Luo (Kenya and Tanzania)

Luo (Kenya and Tanzania)

Overview
The Luo are an ethnic group in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, eastern Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, and northern Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. They are part of a larger group of ethnolinguistically related Luo peoples who inhabit an area including southern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, northern and eastern Uganda, western Kenya, and northern Tanzania.

The Luo are the third largest ethnic group (13%) in Kenya, after the Kikuyu (22%) and the Luhya (14%). The Luo and the Kikuyu inherited the bulk of political power in the first years following Kenya's independence in 1963.
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Encyclopedia
The Luo are an ethnic group in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, eastern Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, and northern Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. They are part of a larger group of ethnolinguistically related Luo peoples who inhabit an area including southern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, northern and eastern Uganda, western Kenya, and northern Tanzania.

The Luo are the third largest ethnic group (13%) in Kenya, after the Kikuyu (22%) and the Luhya (14%). The Luo and the Kikuyu inherited the bulk of political power in the first years following Kenya's independence in 1963. The Luo population in Kenya was estimated to be 3,185,000 in 1994 and 4.1 million in 2010. The Tanzanian Luo population was estimated at 280,000 in 2001 and 490,000 in 2010.

The main Luo livelihood is fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, farming and pastoral herding. Outside Luoland
Luoland
Luoland is the tribal homeland of the Kenya Luo , a people of western Kenya, also extending into eastern Uganda and northern Tanzania. This area consists roughly of the basin surrounding Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria...

, the Luo comprise a significant fraction of East Africa's intellectual and skilled labour force in various professions. Less educated members work in eastern Africa as tenant fishermen, small scale farmers, and urban workers. They speak the Dholuo language
Dholuo language
The Luo language, Dholuo or Luo proper, is the eponymous language of the Luo group of Nilotic languages, spoken by about 4.4 million Luo people of Kenya and Tanzania, who occupy parts of the eastern shore of Lake Victoria and areas to the south...

, which belongs to the Western Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family spoken by other Luo-speaking peoples such as the Lango
Lango
-Lango of Uganda:The Lango or Jo Lango live in the Lango sub-region , north of Lake Kyoga. Lango sub-region comprises the districts of Amolatar, Alebtong, Apac, Dokolo, Kole, Lira, Oyam, and Otuke...

, Acholi, Adhola and Alur
Alur people
Alur are an ethnic group who live mainly in the Nebbi, Zombo, and Arua districts in northwestern Uganda, but also in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of Lake Albert. They are part of the larger Luo group, and their language is closely related to Acholi...

 (all of Uganda and parts of Sudan and Eastern Congo).

Pre-colonial times


The Luo
Luo (family of ethnic groups)
The Luo are an ethnic linguistic group located in an area that stretches from South Sudan and Ethiopia through northern Uganda and eastern Congo , into western Kenya, and ending in the upper tip of Tanzania. These people speak an Eastern Sudanic language, a branch of the Nilo-Saharan language...

 of Kenya descend from early fishing, agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya's early pre-colonial history. The Luo people and dialects of their language have historic roots across the Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

 region. Chief among the powerful families to which the Luo trace their ancestry were the Sahkarias of Kano, the Jaramogis of Ugenya, and the Owuors of Kisumu, whose clans married several wives and had multitudes of grandchildren and heirs to various chieftainships. Leaders of these lineages typically had multiple wives and intermarried with their neighbours in Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

. The Luo tribe, through intermarriages and wars, are part of the genetic admixture that includes all modern East African ethnic groups as well as members of the Buganda
Buganda
Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala, with the exception of the disputed eastern Kayunga District...

 Kingdom, the Bunyoro
Bunyoro
Bunyoro is a kingdom in Western Uganda. It was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa from the 16th to the 19th century. It is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro...

 Kingdom, the Toro Kingdom, and the Nubians
Nubians
The Nubians are an ethnic group originally from northern Sudan, and southern Egypt now inhabiting North Africa and some parts of East Africa....

 of modern day Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

.

The Luo had many ethnic neighbours with whom they frequently inter-related, including the Nandi
Nandi people
The Nandi people are a number of Kenyan tribes living in the highland areas of the Nandi Hills in Rift Valley Province who speak the Nandi languages. They are a sub-group of the Kalenjin people....

, Luhya, Kipsigis and the Kisii
Kisii people
The Kisii is a community of Bantu speakers who inhabit the two counties in Nyanza Province, Western Kenya...

. As a result, treaties and intermarriages were accomplished, resulting in a mixture of inter-cultural ideals and practices. As is the case with all so-called tribes of modern day East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, Luo history is intricately interwoven with the histories of their neighbours, attesting to the complexity of East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

n precolonial history.

The Luo probably originated at Wau
Wau, Sudan
Wau is a city in South Sudan.-Location:It lies on the western bank of the Jur River, in Wau County, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, in northwestern South Sudan. Its location lies approximately , northwest of Juba, the capital and largest city in that country...

 in southern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, near the confluence of the Meride and Sue Rivers. The Kenya Luo migrated into western Kenya via today's eastern Uganda, the first wave arriving sometime around 1500 AD. Arrivals came in at least five waves arriving at different times:
  1. The Joka-Jok (who migrated from Acholiland, the first and largest migration)comprise the JoKarachuonyo, JoKabondo, JoNyakach, JoKanyada, JoKadem among others
  2. Those migrating from Alur
    Alur people
    Alur are an ethnic group who live mainly in the Nebbi, Zombo, and Arua districts in northwestern Uganda, but also in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of Lake Albert. They are part of the larger Luo group, and their language is closely related to Acholi...

     joined the Joka-Jok
  3. The Jo-K'Owiny (who migrated from Padhola) include JoSakwa, JoUyoma, JoSeme, JoAsembo, JoKajulu, JoKisumo among others
  4. The Jok’Omolo (perhaps from Pawir) arrived later, including the JoAlego, JoUgenya, JoGem, and JoYimbo.
  5. The Abasuba (an heterogeneous group in southern Nyanza
    Nyanza
    Nyanza may refer to:*Nyanza, Rwanda**Nyanza District, the district surrounding Nyanza, Rwanda*Nyanza Province, Kenya*Nyanza Lac, Burundi*Nyanza, the Bantu word for lake, in particular:**Lake Albert **Lake Edward...

    , with antu peoples|Bantu] from Buganda and Busoga]) were assimilated into groups such as JoKaksingri, JoKaswanga, JoGwassi, JoKamasengre among others.


The present day Kenya Luo traditionally consist of 26 sub-groups, each in turn composed of various clans and sub-clans ( "Jo-" indicates "people of".):
  1. Jo-Gem
  2. Jo-Yimbo
  3. Jo-Ugenya
  4. Jo-Seme
  5. Jo-Kajulu
  6. Jo-Karachuonyo
  7. Jo-Nyakach
  8. Jo-Kabondo
  9. Jo-Kisumo (Jo-Kisumu)
  10. Jo-Kano
  11. Jo-Asembo
  12. Jo-Alego
  13. Jo-Uyoma
  14. Jo-Sakwa
  15. Jo-Kanyamkago
  16. Jo-Kadem
  17. Jo-Kwabwai
  18. Jo-Karungu
  19. Abasuba (Jo-Suna,Jo-Gwassi, Kaksingri, etc.)
  20. Jo-Kasgunga
  21. Jo-Kanyamwa
  22. Jo-Kanyada
  23. Jo-Kanyidoto
  24. Jo-Kamgundho
  25. Jo-Kamagambo
  26. Jo-Ramogi


By the 1840s, the Luo had a tight-knit society with leadership from Ruodhi, or regional chiefs.

Colonial times


Early British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 contact with the Luo was indirect and sporadic. Relations intensified only when the completion of the Uganda Railway
Uganda Railway
The Uganda Railway is a railway system and former railway company linking the interiors of Uganda and Kenya with the Indian Ocean at Mombasa in Kenya.-Origins:...

 had confirmed British intentions and largely removed the need for local tribal alliances. In 1896 a punitive expedition
Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge...

 was mounted in support of the Wanga ruler Mumia
Rulers of Wanga
List of Rulers of Wanga...

 in Ugenya against the Umira Kager clan led by Gero. Over 200 were quickly killed by a Maxim gun
Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

. In 1899, C. W. Hobley
Charles William Hobley
Charles William Hobley, CMG — known as C. W. Hobley — was a pioneering British Colonial administrator in Kenya...

 led an expedition against Sakwa, Seme and Uyoma locations in which 2,500 cattle and about 10,000 sheep and goats were captured.

By 1900, the Luo chief Odera was providing 1,500 porters for a British expedition against the Nandi
Nandi people
The Nandi people are a number of Kenyan tribes living in the highland areas of the Nandi Hills in Rift Valley Province who speak the Nandi languages. They are a sub-group of the Kalenjin people....

.

In 1915, the Colonial Government sent Odera Akang'o, the ruoth of Gem, to Kampala
Kampala
Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.-History: of Buganda, had chosen...

, Uganda. He was impressed by the British settlement there and upon his return home he initiated a forced process of adopting western styles of "schooling, dress and hygiene". This resulted in the rapid education of the Luo in the English language and English ways.

The Luo generally were not dispossessed of their land by the British, avoiding the fate that befell the pastoral tribes inhabiting the Kenyan "White Highlands
White Highlands
The term White Highlands describes an area in the central uplands of Kenya, so-called because, during the period of British Colonialism, white immigrants settled there in considerable numbers. The main motivation was to take advantage of the good soils and growing conditions, as well as the cool...

". Many Luo played significant roles in the struggle for Kenyan independence, but the tribe was relatively uninvolved in the Mau Mau Uprising
Mau Mau Uprising
The Mau Mau Uprising was a military conflict that took place in Kenya between 1952 and 1960...

 of the 1950s. Instead, some Luo used their education to advance the cause of independence peacefully. The lawyer C.M.G. Argwings-Kodhek, for example, used his expertise to defend Mau Mau suspects in court.

Independent Kenya


Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963. Oginga Odinga, a prominent Luo leader, declined the presidency of Kenya, preferring to assume the vice presidency with Jomo Kenyatta
Jomo Kenyatta
Jomo Kenyattapron.] served as the first Prime Minister and President of Kenya. He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation....

 as the head of government. Their administration represented the Kenya African National Union
Kenya African National Union
The Kenya African National Union, better known as KANU is a political party which ruled Kenya for nearly 40 years after its independence from British colonial rule in 1963, until its electoral loss at the end of 2002...

 (KANU) party. However, differences with Jomo Kenyatta caused Oginga to defect from the party and abandon the vice presidency in 1966. His departure caused the Luo to become politically marginalized under the Kenyatta and subsequently the Moi administrations.

In Tanzania, Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere had personally sought to work with Hellon Ang'iela Owino of Shirati
Shirati
Shirati is a town in North Mara, Tanzania.Shirati Hospital found its beginning with the arrival of Missionaries from the United States of America in 1934. These first missionaries from Eastern Mennonite Missions were committed to providing education and health care in the Shirati Community....

, Tanzania, as a trusted and vibrant political aide who was never ashamed of eloquently speaking his mind whenever needed. Mr. Owino was well known among the front bench politicians who exchanged fists with the then Oscar Kambona
Oscar Kambona
Oscar Salathiel Kambona was the first foreign affairs minister of Tanganyika and the second most influential and most popular leader in the country after President Julius Nyerere....

 and Bhoke Munanka, whom he said were betraying Nyerere behind his back. Owino (1930s-1988) was sent many times by Nyerere (through Oginga Odinga) to mend relations with Kenya and was the one who passed information (through Okello, who was his friend) to Nyerere on Kenya's mission to take Zanzibar.

Many years of marginalization and disastrous economic management in Kenya, particularly under the KANU party's administration of the nascent state, had tragic consequences for the people of Kenya. despite the economic potential of nearby Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

. Kenya continues to struggle with poverty
Poverty in Africa
Poverty in Africa refers to the lack of basic human needs faced by certain segments of African society. African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring small size economic activity, such as income per capita or GDP per capita, despite a wealth of natural resources...

 and AIDS today.

More than 1,000 people were killed in Kenya's election violence
2007–2008 Kenyan crisis
The 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis refers to a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that erupted in Kenya after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007. Supporters of Kibaki's opponent, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic...

 amongst the Kikuyu, Luo, and several other ethnic groups following the controversial December 2007 presidential election.

The most prominent Luo politician today is Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga
Raila Amollo Odinga , also popularly known to Kenyans as Agwambo, is a Kenyan politician, currently serving as the Prime Minister of Kenya in a coalition government. He has served as a Member of Parliament for Langata since 1992, was Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002, and was Minister of Roads,...

, the son of Oginga Odinga and former Minister of Roads and Public Works. He is widely credited with enabling Mwai Kibaki
Mwai Kibaki
Mwai Kibaki is the current and third President of the republic of Kenya.Kibaki was previously Vice President of Kenya for ten years from 1978–1988 and also held cabinet ministerial positions, including a widely acclaimed stint as Minister for Finance , Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for...

 to win the 2002 presidential election through the support of his Liberal Democratic Party
Liberal Democratic Party (Kenya)
The Liberal Democratic Party was a political party in Kenya.In the general election held on 27 December 2002, the party was a partner in the National Rainbow Coalition, which won 56.1 % of the popular vote and 125 out of 212 elected seats. The party itself took 59 of these seats...

. Other prominent politicians include James Orengo, Professor Anyang' Nyong'o, Oloo Aringo, Dalmas Otieno amongst others. Dr. PLO Lumumba who is the current Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director is also a Luo.

Another prominent member was Barack Obama Sr., whose son, Barack Obama II
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, is the 44th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

.

Religious customs


'
Like many ethnic communities in Uganda, including the Baganda, Langi, Acholi, and Alur, the Luo do not practice the ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 circumcision
Circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

 of males as initiation
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

. Instead, children formerly had their six lower front teeth removed at an initiation. This ritual has largely fallen out of use.

In 1907,Johanna Owalo formed the first African independent church in Kenya called 'Nomiya' or the mission i was given.Nomiya church is a mixture of Christian,Islam and traditional African religious doctrines.The church practices circumcision for male children at the age of 8 days and they pray facing north.The church currently has a following of 800,000 in the Nyanza region.other local churches include;Legio Maria,Roho and Fwenya among others.

Marriage customs


Historically, couples were introduced to each other by matchmakers, but this is not common now. Like many other communities in Kenya, marriage among the Luo at the moment is fast becoming westernized and people are moving away from the traditional way of doing things. The Luo frequently marry outside the tribe. The traditional marriage ceremony takes place in two parts, both involving the payment of a bride price
Bride price
Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...

 by the groom. The first ceremony, the Ayie
Ayie
Ayie is the first of two stages of a traditional marriage ceremony of the Luo tribe of Kenya and Tanzania. The ceremony involves the payment of a bride price by the groom to the mother of the bride...

, involves a payment of money to the mother of the bride; the second stage involves giving cattle to her father. Often these two steps are carried out at the same time, and, as many modern Luos are Christians, a church ceremony often follows. If the husband should die during the marriage, it is customary for the brother to act as a replacement.

Music



Traditionally, music was the most widely practiced art in the Luo community. At any time of the day or night, some music was being made. Music was not made for its own sake. Music was functional. It was used for ceremonial, religious, political, or incidental purposes. Music was performed during funerals (Tero buru), to praise the departed, to console the bereaved, to keep people awake at night, to express pain and agony, and was also used during cleansing and chasing away of spirits. Music was also played during ceremonies like beer parties (Dudu, ohangla dance), welcoming back the warriors from a war, during a wrestling match (Olengo), during courtship, etc. Work songs also existed. These were performed both during communal work like building, weeding, etc. and individual work like pounding of cereals, or winnowing. Music was also used for ritual purposes like chasing away evil spirits (nyawawa), who visit the village at night, in rain making, and during divinations and healing.

The Luo music was shaped by the total way of life, lifestyles, and life patterns of individuals of this community. Because of that, the music had characteristics which distinguished it from the music of other communities. This can be seen, heard, and felt in their melodies, rhythms, mode of presentation and dancing styles, movements, and formations.

The melodies in Luo music were lyrical, with a lot of vocal ornamentations. These ornaments came out clearly, especially when the music carried an important message. Their rhythms were characterized by a lot of syncopation and acrusic beginning. These songs were usually presented in solo-response style, although some were solo performances. The most common forms of solo performances were chants. These chants were recitatives with irregular rhythms and phrases, which carried serious messages. Most of the Luo dances were introduced by these chants. One example is the dudu dance.

Another unique characteristic in the Luo music is the introduction of yet another chant at the middle of a musical performance. The singing stops, the pitch of the musical instruments go down and the dance becomes less vigorous as an individual takes up the performance is self praise. This is referred to as Pakruok. There was also a unique kind of ululation, Sigalagala, that marked the climax of the musical performance. Sigalagala was mainly done by women.

The dance styles in the Luo folk music were elegant and graceful. They involved either the movement of one leg in the opposite direction with the waist in step with the syncopated beats of the music or the shaking of the shoulders vigorously, usually to the tune of the nyatiti
Nyatiti
The nyatiti is a five to eight-stringed plucked lyre from Kenya. It is a classical instrument played by the Luo people of Western Kenya, typically in Benga music. It is about two to three feet long. The player holds it to his chest while seated on a low stool. Usually it is played together with the...

, an eight-stringed instrument.

Adamson (1967) commented that Luos clad in their traditional costumes and ornaments deserve their reputation as the most picturesque people in Kenya. During most of their performances, the Luo wore costumes and decorated themselves not only to appear beautiful, but also to enhance their movements. These costumes included sisal skirts (owalo), beads (Ombulu / tigo) worn around the neck and waist, and red or white clay worn by the ladies. The men's costumes included kuodi or chieno, a skin worn from the shoulders or from the waist respectively to cover their nakedness, Ligisa, the headgear, shield and spear, reed hats, and clubs, among others. All these costumes and ornaments were made from locally available materials.

The Luo were also rich in musical instruments which ranged from percussion (drums, clappers, metal rings, ongeng'o or gara, shakers), strings (e.g., nyatiti, a type of lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

; orutu
Orutu
The orutu is a one-stringed fiddle native to western Kenya, especially amongst the Luo community.The term also refers to a genre of music in Kenya which involves this instrument...

, a type of fiddle
Fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

), wind (tung' a horn,Asili
Asili
Asili is a village on the southwest coast of Tutuila Island, American Samoa. It is located between Leone and 'Amanave....

, a flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

, A bu-!, to a specific type of trumpet).

Currently the Luo are associated with the benga
Benga music
Benga is a genre of Kenyan popular music. It evolved between the late 1940s and late 1960s, in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi. In the 1940s, the African Broadcasting Service in Nairobi aired a steady stream of soukous, South African kwela, Zairean finger-style guitar and various kinds of Cuban...

style of music. It is a lively style in which songs in Dholuo, Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

, or English are sung to a lively guitar riff. It originated in the 1950s with Luo musicians trying to adapt their traditional tribal dance rhythms to western instruments. The guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 (acoustic, later electric) replaced the nyatiti
Nyatiti
The nyatiti is a five to eight-stringed plucked lyre from Kenya. It is a classical instrument played by the Luo people of Western Kenya, typically in Benga music. It is about two to three feet long. The player holds it to his chest while seated on a low stool. Usually it is played together with the...

 as the string instrument. Benga has become so popular that it is played by musicians of all tribes and is no longer considered a purely Luo style. It has become Kenya's characteristic pop sound.

Luo singer and nyatiti player Ayub Ogada
Ayub Ogada
Ayub Ogada is a musician from Kenya. Ogada was born in Mombasa and is one of the Luo people of Western Kenya.He received his first exposure to Western culture early on. When he was six, his parents , toured the college circuit in the U.S...

 received widespread exposure in 2005 when two of his songs were featured in Alberto Iglesias
Alberto Iglesias
Alberto Iglesias Fernández-Berridi is a Spanish composer. He wrote the music for several Spanish films, mostly from Pedro Almodóvar...

' Academy Award-nominated score for Fernando Mereilles' film adaptation of The Constant Gardener
The Constant Gardener (film)
The Constant Gardener is a 2005 drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles. The screenplay by Jeffrey Caine is based on the John le Carré novel of the same name. It tells the story of Justin Quayle, a man who seeks to find the motivating forces behind his wife's murder.The film stars Ralph Fiennes,...

.

Internationally notable Luo people

  • Tom M'boya
    Tom Mboya
    Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya was a prominent Kenyan politician during Jomo Kenyatta's government. He was founder of the Nairobi People's Congress Party, a key figure in the formation of the Kenya African National Union , and the Minister of Economic Planning and Development at the time of his death...

  • Peter Anyang' Nyong'o
    Peter Anyang' Nyong'o
    Peter Anyang' Nyong'o is a Kenyan politician. He is the Secretary-General of the Orange Democratic Movement and was elected to the National Assembly of Kenya in the December 2007 parliamentary election, representing the Kisumu Rural Constituency. r. Peter Anyang' Nyong' is the Minister for Medical...

  • Barack Obama, Sr.
    Barack Obama, Sr.
    Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a Kenyan senior governmental economist and the father of U.S. President Barack Obama. He is a central subject in his son's memoir, Dreams from My Father.-Early life:...

  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
    Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
    Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga was a Luo Chief, who became a prominent figure in Kenya's struggle for independence. He later served as Kenya's first Vice-President, and thereafter as opposition leader...

  • Raila Odinga
    Raila Odinga
    Raila Amollo Odinga , also popularly known to Kenyans as Agwambo, is a Kenyan politician, currently serving as the Prime Minister of Kenya in a coalition government. He has served as a Member of Parliament for Langata since 1992, was Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002, and was Minister of Roads,...

  • Grace Ogot
    Grace Ogot
    Grace Ogot is a Kenyan author, nurse, journalist, politician and diplomat.Ogot was born Grace Emily Akinyi in Asembo, in the district of Nyanza. She trained as a nurse in Uganda and in England. She has worked as a midwife, a tutor, as journalist, as a BBC Overseas Service broadcaster, and in a...

  • Ramogi Achieng Oneko
  • James Orengo
    James Orengo
    James Orengo, is a lawyer and former presidential candidate in Kenya. He comes from Ugenya Constituency of Siaya District; he was educated at Ambira Primary School and the Alliance High School. He is law graduate of the University of Nairobi where he was the student body president in his final year...

  • Henry Odera Oruka
    Henry Odera Oruka
    Henry Odera Oruka was a Kenyan philosopher who is best known for Sage Philosophy, a project started in the 1970s in an attempt to preserve the knowledge of the indigenous thinkers in traditional African communities.- Life and thought :...

  • Silvanus Melea Otieno
  • Robert Ouko (politician)
  • Steve Tikolo
    Steve Tikolo
    - Career :He is a right-handed middle order batsman and part time right-arm medium pace bowler. He bowls quite effective offspin in the shorter form of the game. Tikolo has previously represented Border in South African domestic cricket and has also spent time playing in England and Bangladesh...


See also

  • Legio Maria
    Legio Maria
    Legio Maria — also known as Legio Maria of African Church Mission, and Maria Legio — is an African Initiated Church or new religious movement initially among the Luo people of western Kenya which incorporates traditional Luo religious customs into a Catholic Christian framework...

    , a large religious group originating in Luoland