Luo culture discourages people from noting when a woman is pregnant for they believe that it would bring problems and troubles from jealous ancestors (Mboya, 1986). Older women and wives accompany expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy and during nativity. In this community, twins are not received very well. They believe that twins originate from the evil spirits and so they treat such cases with special attention. The twins’ parents are required to assume certain taboos. In order to prevent the calamity that may befall the twins’ parents, the community members engage in obscene dancing as well as using foul language.
Only in this way can the burden of giving birth to twins be lifted (Gay, 1981). As mentioned earlier, women receive much of the blame in case of infertility in marriage. This culture believes that infertility is as a result of blasphemy in the ancestral lineage of the woman. They believe that unless the spirits and ancestors intervene, the woman will never give birth (Gay, 1981). As can be seen, it can be argued and justifiably so that control of fertility is attributed to the mercy of the ancestors. In other words, Luo culture believes that fertility is given by the ancestors to the favored ones.
In a more traditional setting, incest has been associated with most pregnancy complications. However, the husband including other relatives should make sure that after the woman gives birth they slaughter a goat or sheep for her where she gets to eat it at intervals. This ritual is compulsory and if one fails to honor it either the mother or the child can experience more complications even to the point of dying (Mboya, 1986). Men shouldn’t watch women giving birth unless on serious conditions. They are supposed to be far away from the scene.
If a woman gives birth traditionally, she has to sit on a stone with her legs apart where other women support her to give birth. Immediately she gives birth the child is rushed in the hut for other rituals which involve cleaning the umbilical cord and cutting part of it to be buried. This is believed to be a sign of appreciation to the ancestors (Liyong, 1972). Death Rituals It is worth noting that Luo culture performs about fourteen rituals for the dead (Wakana, 1997). Table 1 in appendix A summarizes the rituals from the first step to the last.
Whenever a person dies women come out with long, quivering wail which is seconded by sound of drums. Strictly, the death announcement has to take place either in the morning or in the evening. Luo culture prohibits death announcement during the day although this varies across persons, age, sex and occupation (Wakana, 1997). If, for instance, a child dies in the morning the announcement follows immediately but in the case of elderly men, women have to wait until sunset to start wailing (Pritchard, 1965). The bereaved family stays throughout in the compound of the deceased until the burial day.
Other members of the community gather to console the family (Wakana, 1997). Digging of the grave takes place at round 9 p. m. and goes until 3 to 4 a. m. of the burial day (Millikin, 1906). One or two weeks after the burial cholla begins where several relatives to the deceased take their cattle to his compound at around seven o’clock in the morning. It is however important to note that this ritual is only performed for dead men. The men gather there, kill a cock without using a knife and share its pieces of meat.
They then blow horns of buffaloes and rhinoceroses (oporro) and play drums (bul) as well. These men later attract a long procession composed of more men, women and children; it becomes longer and noisier as communities sing and play the instruments even louder (Milikin, 1906). Spirituality It is believed that Christianity has penetrated the lives of Luo community hence changing some of their traditional religious beliefs. However, a greater part of Luo culture still engages in traditional rituals (Ocholla, 1980). The new Christian movements in this community are Catholicism and Protestantism.
Despite their Christian beliefs, they still belief in the intercession of their ancestors in their lives (Ocholla, 1980). Traditionally, it is believed that the ancestors reside in the sky or underground and their souls undergo transmigration either through animals or new born babies (Themes in History, 1990). In actual fact, they carry out ceremonies whenever naming of a child takes place to determine if a particular spirit has been reincarnated (Themes in History, 1990). Additionally, it is believed that the ancestral spirits communicate with the living in their dreams (Ocholla, 1980).