Luo Tribe in Kenya

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Origin History indicates that the genesis of the Luo people is Sudan, along the River Nile. They traveled from this region to Kenya more than five centuries or 500 years ago. Upon reaching the country

Luo Tribe in Kenya Description


History indicates that the genesis of the Luo people is Sudan, along the River Nile. They traveled from this region to Kenya more than five centuries or 500 years ago. Upon reaching the country, they settled around the largest freshwater lake in Africa, Lake Victoria.

However, they did not come in one phase. The first group of Luo tribe to reach the present settlements were the Joka-jok followed by the Jo-k’Owiny and then the Jok’ Omolo before the arrival of the last phase composed of the Luo Abasuba.

The Luo Abasuba came into being from intermarriage between the Ugandan Bantu and the Luo.

Leadership Hierarchy

When the time of the inheritance comes the ideology of seniority is respected: the elder son receives the largest share, followed in the order of seniority. If it is the land to be divided, for instance, the land of the old grandfather’s homestead, the senior son gets the middle piece, the second the land to the right hand side of the homestead, and the third son takes the land on the left hand side. After the father’s death the senior son takes over the responsibilities of leadership. These groups when considered in terms of genealogy, are people of the same grandfather, and are known in Dholuo as Jokakwaro. They share sacrifices under the leadership of the senior brother. If the brother is dead the next brother in seniority takes the leadership of senior brother. The responsibility and prestige position of leadership is that it puts one into the primary position in harvesting, cultivation, as well as in eating specified parts of the animal killed, usually the best parts.

Popular Cultural Events

The Luo consider their entire traditional way of life to be an important community resource. There is a great deal of disagreement over what should be preserved and what should change. Customs centering on marriage and gender relations are hotly debated.

Songs are popular today as in the past. Musicians praise and lament political, generational, economic, and cultural contradictions in contemporary life. Luo devote much time to listening to music, and regularly purchase records, tapes, and CDs. Christian church music is also a form of entertainment.

It is said that the short story was a well-developed art among the Luo in traditional times. Such stories were often accompanied by music. The most important short-story writer in Kenya today is a Luo woman, Grace Ogot. In her stories she includes traditional themes as well as modern dilemmas, such as an educated woman living in a polygynous arrangement. Some of her best-known stories are “The Other Woman,” “The Fisherman,” and “The Honorable Minister.”

Location and Size

The Luo number are about 13 percent of Kenya’s total population. Along with the Luhya, the Luo are the second largest ethnic group in the country, behind the Gikuyu. Most Luo live in western Kenya in Western province or in the adjacent Nyanza province, two of the eight provinces in Kenya. Some Luo live to the south of Kenya in Tanzania. Many Luo also live in Nairobi. Most Luo maintain strong economic, cultural, and social links to western Kenya, which they consider home. Over the past 500 years, the Luo have migrated slowly from the Sudan to their present location around the eastern shore of Lake Victoria. This area changes from low, dry landscape around the lake to more lush, hilly areas to the east. The provincial capital of Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya and is a major cultural center for the Luo.


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