The social, economic and political organisation
of the Akamba in the 19th Century.
The Akamba were organised into clans made up of
several related families. They had age-groups and age-set system. They
practiced circumcision as an initiation rite.
They believed in witchcraft and had
medicinemen and diviners. The Akamba conducted traditional ceremonies. Finally,
they worshipped God and performed sacrifices to him.
Some Akamba practiced crop cultivation and
planted sorghum, millet, potatoes and beans while others kept livestock such as
cattle, sheep and goats. The Akamba were skilled hunters and they also gathered
fruits and roots to substitute their diet.
They traded with the Kikuyu, Taita,
Mijikenda and later with the coastal people. The Akamba sold honey, arrow
poison and tobacco to them while they bought beads and cloth from the coast and
also ivory and foodstuff from the interior communities like the Samburu and
Mbeere respectively. They smelted iron and made spears, arrow-heads, hoes,
knives, cattle bells and jingles.
The Akamba were efficient beekeepers
and they harvested a lot of honey. They were engaged in traditional industries
where they manufactured pots, baskets, mats, stools and shields.
Those who lived close to river Tana
did some fishing. They made carvings from wood and sold them to the people in
exchange for cloth, snuff boxes and beads.
Politically the Akamba were organised into
clans made up of several related families. They had councils of elders each
entitled to "Nzama Sya Utui”.
They practiced the age-set system
and they were ranked in age grades such as junior elders, medium elders, full
elders and senior elders. The Akamba were decentralised. Akamba warriors
defended the community. Judgement of cases was done by the council of elders.
How the Abagusii were organised socially, economically and politically.
The Abagusii were organised into clans. Their
social organisation was based on the extended family whose members claimed to
have a common ancestor. They conducted initiation ceremonies in form of
circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls. Polygamy was a very common
social practice among the Abagusii.
The Abagusii worshipped one supreme
God called ‘Engoro’. They prayed through ancestral spirits. The Abagusii
sacrificed to their God, Engoro who they regarded as the creator of the universe.
They had medicinemen, rain makers and prophets. Lastly, they also conducted
ceremonies marking birth, initiation and death.
The Abagusii were pastoralists and they kept
cattle, sheep and goats. They cultivated crops such as millet, sorghum,
pumpkins, potatoes and beans. Men hunted wild game while women gathered wild
fruits and roots.
They conducted trade with their
neighbours such as the Luo and the Luhyia. Finally, they were engaged in
traditional industries such as making stone curvings and iron hoes for
The Abagusii were politically organised into
clans made up of related families and each clan was ruled by "Omogambi”. They had age-set systems and
councils of elders which led the clans in wars and judged cases.
The Abagusii were politically
decentralised. They had warriors who defended their territory from the enemies.
The social, economic and political organisation
of the Mijikenda in the 19th Century.
The social organisation of the Mijikenda was
based on the clan. They practiced the age-set system. Initiation of boys took
place after every five years. The elders were the clan leaders. Inter marriages
between Kayas existed.
There was division of labour.
Children looked after cattle, sheep and goats while young men built houses and
cattle sheds, hunted and cleared the bush for cultivation.
The Mijikenda worshipped God and
offered sacrifices. They conducted ceremonies during the time of birth,
initiation and marriage.
The Mijikenda fished in the Indian Ocean. They
kept livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats and hunted and gathered fruits,
honey and vegetables. They were engaged in traditional industries such as
weaving and basketry.
The Mijikenda grew crops such as
millet and also traded with the Swahilis and the people of the interior such as
The Mijikenda political set up was under the
control of the clan. There were councils of elders who sorted out all matters
concerning the ‘Kayas’.
Age-set system existed. The
Mijikenda had warriors who defended their territory and ensured that there was
law and order. Cases were judged by the council of elders.
The Social, economic, and political
organisation of the Luo in the 19th Century.
The Luo were organised into clans composed of
families with a common ancestor. The clans were grouped into larger territorial
units called ‘Gweng’ which were
occupied by foreign lineages entitled ‘Joka’ and clansmen. A council of elders
existed which presided over religious ceremonies.
The Luo worshipped a God called
Nyasaye through their ancestral spirits. This was conducted in the sacred
places. Priests existed who linked the people with the ancestral spirits. They
had diviners who interpreted God’s messages to the people. The Luo sacrificed
for thanks giving and for appeasing their God.
They initiated boys and girls into
adulthood by removing their six lower teeth. They also prepared them for
marriage. Finally, the Luo conducted other ceremonies and celebrations such as
burial ceremonies, naming, beer drinking and wrestling.
The Luo cultivated crops such as
beans, sweet potatoes, peas, millet, groundnuts and sorghum. They hunted wild animals
and collected fruits, vegetables and roots. The Luo businessmen traded with
their neighbours for example Abaluhyia, Abagusii, Nandi and Kipsigis.
The Luo smelted iron and made iron
tools and also engaged themselves in the traditional industries such as
pottery, basketry and cloth making. They fished in Lake Victoria and in the
rivers passing through their territory e.g. Rivers Sondu, Nzoia, Nyando, Kuja
The political organisation
The Luo were politically organised into clans
and they were decentralised. The clans were made up of families headed by "Jaduong”. Several clans merged together
formed a ‘gweng’. There existed a
council of elders made up of clan heads and other remarkable elders. Related
clans formed alliances and defended their territory. Each Luo alliance (Oganda) had a political leader entitled Ruoth. There were individual clan
councils, doho, controlled by Ladito.
Also there was a council called Buch Piny made up of elders who advised
the Ruoth for example the military leader, Osumba Mirwayi. The council of
elders was made up of clan heads and other remarkable elders. It solved
internal disputes over land, declared war and performed other political and
Doho was a smaller council which
operated under smaller regional sub-divisions. There were warriors referred to
as Thuondi who raided the neighbouring communities.