The Luo are a population coming from Sudan and now living in the area around Lake Victoria, they are the ethnic group of the former US President Barack Obama; an ethnic group very extended in Kenya, a population who produces and markets, and over the years has acquired an important role in the country.
The Luo are a Nilotic population who, over the past 500 years, has begun migrating from Sudan to the South-East, to settle on the Eastern shore of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya.
They are the tribe of origin of the former US President Barack Obama.
According to the last demographic survey, the Luo represent about 13% of Kenya's population and are among the most important ethnic groups, Kisumu is the largest city and cultural center of this ethnic group, some smaller groups are also found in Uganda and Tanzania.
The Luo speak three languages, English, Kiswahili and indigenous language, Dholuo, that, even today, is the preferred option for daily conversation in the family.
The Luo society is polygamous and a woman greatly increases her power and her influence within the lineage of her husband when she has children; also the first wife or "great wife" has a prominent role compared to the other wives.
Even the village's structure reflects the importance of the first wife; every wife, in fact, has her own hut but the hut of the first wife is placed in front of the main gate while the other wives’ huts are located to the right or left of the most important wife's hut.
The huts were traditionally built with a circular shape, with walls of mud and wattle and a thatched roof; while today the Luo live in brick houses and the richer in luxury apartments with all the comforts.
Originally, the Luo were cattle ranchers but over time they became farmers and new land allow to obtain a constant agricultural production, thanks to regular rainfall; the main crops are corn, millet, coffee, tobacco, cotton and sugar cane.
Dwelling in the Lake Victoria zone, the Luo practice fishing, especially the Tilapia fish that is a very valuable one and it is also exported abroad; they also fish for Nile perch recently introduced into Lake Victoria waters.
The Luo staple food is ugali, a kind of porridge that is prepared with white corn and that is accompanied with various meat stews and with the sukumawiki, a vegetable similar to spinach but a bit more bitter.
The Luo have different rituals related above all to the wedding and the funeral, these are in fact the only changes in the lives of people that are celebrated, there are no other rites of passage as in other ethnic groups, even circumcision is not practiced.

Life, tradition and culture of Luo people

  • Music and dances of the Luo
  • The rites, ceremonies and beliefs of the Luo
  • Marriage in the culture of the Luo population 
  • Luo's religious beliefs 
  • The funeral rites of the Luo people