The Luo tribe inhabits the Nyanza province of Western Kenya. They originally belong
to a larger group called the Luo people who now live in the northern
and eastern Uganda, Northern Tanzania and Southern Sudan areas. The Luo are also
referred to as Jaluo of the Joluo. They are the third largest ethnic group
with an estimation of 13% of the population in Kenya. They are said to have migrated
from Wau in southern Sudan to their current territory via what is now known as eastern
The Luo tribe people speak Dholuo Language. One dominant practice
for the Luo is fishing given their close proximity to the Lake Victoria
. This makes fish their major staple food and ugali. This fish is used for both
domestic consumption and export especially the Nile Perch to export to Europe.
For those who reside outside the lake region, they work as tenant fishermen, small
scale farmers, and urban workers. Marriage is considered as a vital rite of passage
among the Luo. Traditionally, a marriage ceremony was conducted in two
phases, which involved the payment of a bride price by the groom. The first phase
is the Ayie involving a payment of money to the mother of the bride;
the second phase involving giving cattle to her father. Usually, these two steps
are carried out simultaneously, and as many modern day Luos are into Christianity,
a church ceremony then follows.
Unlike many ethnic groups in east Africa, the Luo do not practice ritual circumcision
males as an initiation rite. As a substitute, children used to have their six lower
front teeth removed at as an initiation. Actually, this ritual is largely falling
out of use. They practice another distinctive custom called wife inheritance,
that allowed the brothers or close relatives to a man, to inherit his wife in the
case of his death. Recently, it's slowly dying away due to the fear of it spreading
diseases. Another unique widely practiced ceremony is the tero buru
in which there is music and dance performed, symbolizing the departure of a loved
one. The Luo have very enriched traditional dance costumes; skirts
made from sisal and colored beads worn around the neck and waist. Ladies usually
use red and while clay to decorate them. All these costumes and ornaments are made
from local materials.
Rich in musical instruments, the Luo still have traditional instruments
which vary from percussion, string, like nyatiti, a type of lyre;
orutu a type of fiddle), wind tung' a horn, and Asili a flute.
Presently, the Luo are known for the benga music style. It is a
dynamic approach in which songs in Dholuo, Swahili, or English are sung alongside
a lively guitar riff.
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