Kisii Tribe in Kenya



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Origin The ancestral Gusii population entered western Kenya from Uganda and later moved from the foothills of Mount Elgon towards their present lands. They spent two generations living at Goye Bay nea

Kisii Tribe in Kenya Description

Origin

The ancestral Gusii population entered western Kenya from Uganda and later moved from the foothills of Mount Elgon towards their present lands. They spent two generations living at Goye Bay near Lake Victoria before moving to the Kano plains and, later, to their present location due to the expansion of the Luo and Maasai tribes. During the migration, Kisii family units became more inclusive and interdependent, forming clans. Each clan was headed by a clan leader, who was in charge of making decisions on behalf of the clan. The family head was still responsible for making the daily decisions in and around his homestead.

Leadership Hierarchy

During the precolonial period, the exogamous, patrilineal clan (eamaate) was the largest cooperative unit. Clans were part of clan clusters, which had birds or animals as totems but lacked any common organization. At the lineage (riiga) level, patrilineal descent and marriage defined commonly recognized access to land and provided the rationale for corporate action. During the colonial period, indigenous political and social organization became conceptualized as a segmentary lineage system in which units from the clan cluster, clans, and clan segments became defined according to a genealogical grid with an eponymous ancestor at the top.

Popular Cultural Events

Due to civilization, education and economic power, the Kisii people have undergone drastic cultural changes. Kisii was one of the few Kenyan tribes that practiced mandatory female circumcision. Although this ritual has since been outlawed, it still persists but is not as frequent as it was in the past. Kisii boys continue to be initiated into adulthood and into the Gusii as a group by circumcision.

Kisii families tend to be very large and socially cohesive, with families living close to each other and sharing daily activities such as cooking and farming. By custom, men are allowed to marry more than one wife and are considered to be the authority in their families, almost a “King” to their women.

Location and Size

Gusiiland is located in western Kenya, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Lake Victoria. Abundant rainfall and very fertile soils have made Gusiiland one of the most productive agricultural areas in Kenya. Since 1989, the Gusii as a single ethnic group have occupied the Kisii and Nyamira districts of southwestern Kenya. In 1989, the number of Gusii was 1.3 million


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