Thursday, June 1, 2017

Excerpts from Selected Articles About Luo Naming Traditions (East Africa)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series on Luo (East African) naming traditions.

Part I provides an excerpt from an article about the Luo ethnic group as well as excerpts from selected articles about Luo naming traditions.

Click For Part II of this series. Part II provides excerpts from various online articles about the origin and meaning of the Luo (East African) name "Obama" with special focus on the genealogy of United States President Barack Obama.

The content of this post is presented for etymological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Part I

"The Kenyan Luo tribe is a subgroup of the larger Luo community that spans across Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Congo and Ethiopia.

The people of Kenya are comprised of 42 ethnic groups or tribes, each with its own unique values, skills, language and cultural practices.

The luo tribe is the third largest community in Kenya and makes up close to 13% of the entire population. History suggests that the Luo travelled along the River Nile from Sudan. They made entry into Kenya around 500 years ago and established settlements in the lands surrounding Lake Victoria- Africa’s biggest fresh water lake. Their arrival took place in phases.


Political History of the Luo
Under British colonial rule, the Luo people did not have their land taken from them, unlike some other Kenyan tribes. The Luo community has been a key player in the Kenyan political scene since the pre-colonial times. Some of its favored sons in the pre-colonial and post-colonial period include...

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
Being the first vice president of Kenya, he arguably was the biggest force in the Luo political landscape at the time. He was deemed to follow a communist approach and was an exact foil of the founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. His differences with the president later led him to pioneer the birth of opposition politics in Kenya. Interestingly, the Luo community still continues to stage opposition politics today. He died in 1994.


Kenya's other famous People from the Luo Tribe
Other well-known Luo people include Washington Jalang'o Okumu [and] James Orengo. Obama [Senior] - the late father of Barack Obama, the current president of the United States of America, was from the Luo tribe.

The Luo tribe has traditionally produced many scholars and other educated persons, including some who have graduated from very prestigious colleges around the world. As a result, Luo professionals are dominant in nearly every area of the Kenyan economy, business and government, serving as university professors, doctors, engineers and lawyers."...

These articles are quoted in no particular order. Numbers are assigned for references purposes only.

Excerpt #1:
A Cultural Guide to the Luo People

Around the sixteenth century, the ancestors of the Luo began migrating from the Bahr alGhazal region, south of the Nile, finally settling on the eastern side of the Lake Victoria basin. They continued arriving in a steady stream until the nineteenth century. Practitioners of pastoralism, they spoke a western Nilotic language known as DhoLuo, which is distinct from the language spoken by their neighbors.

Currently, the Luo are the third most populous tribe in Kenya, comprising over 13% (2.8 million) of the country’s population and many of its most influential intellectual and political minds. Due to the supra-national states created during the scramble for Africa by European colonists in 1884-85, there is also a significant number of Luo people living in neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.

Culture permeates the daily life of the Luo. From the name one receives at birth, to the placement of one’s grave at death, culture and tradition dictate movements of the society. Because of countless deaths due to the AIDS virus, there are fewer and fewer elders to pass down customs, and the cultural fabric of the Luo society is unraveling.

An example of Luo culture, representative of life in Luoland, is the naming process of the Luo people. Luo names refer to forces or spirits that exist beyond the immediate presence of life on earth. When individuals are deceased, they are referred to as the spirits of the ancestors. The means by which children receive spirit names is tied directly to the position of the sun in relation to the earth when they are born. Different names carry different personality characteristics. So, when meeting a stranger on a dusty crossroad, one gains insight into the character of that person simply by learning the individual’s name.

Luos name their children at the time of day that they are born, for example: Atieno is a girl born at night, Akinyi is morning, Achien’g when the sun is high.

Akeyo is the name given during harvesting, and Apiyo and Adongo are twins, with Apiyo as the name of the first to be born. The first letter of a name also indicates gender: “A” signifies a woman, and “O” for a boy. For example, Otieno would be the name of a boy and Atieno for a girl, both of the same name.”...
Page 1 of 5"

Excerpt #2 Naming-traditions

"Name giving traditions in the Luo- tribe
A Luo is given three names. A first name that now more and more often is an international name, as Joseph, Leonard, Florence etc. The second name depends on the conditions of the day or time of the day of birth. For example if it was an early morning or a rainy season. The day Obama was elected as a president, many children was given Obama as their second name!. The third name, the surname, is the fathers second name. Further on the second name starts with an A if it is a girl and an O if it is a boy. Take Josephs second name: Opiyo, which means fast, normally used for the first twin, but for Joseph he was an early born, only 6 months old he wanted to come out and start living, he even bounced down on the floor, he was that eager! But if it would have been a girl instead, the name would have been Apiyo.

Below we are explaining some of the names that our children have:
Achieng: Hot sun, midday
Adiambo: Evening
Owilli: Forgetful
Awiti: Thrown away
Okoth: Rainy
Oyoo: Season for rain, but also used as a Hallo!!
Akinyi: Morning
Amondi: Early morning
Okinda: Determined
Odello: Hungry
Atieno: Night
Onyango: Daytime”

Example #3
"Appendix: Luo surnames
Main category: Luo surnames
List of Luo Surnames:

Luo names follow an order pattern of (1) a Christian given name (these used at least for the past two generations), (2) a personal surname (selected from among over 50 "special" attributes, usually relating to the circumstances of a birth, see below), and (3) a patronymic, the child’s father’s personal surname (a woman assumes her husband’s at marriage). Thus, e.g., Valentine Odhiambo Pengo or Philomena Ogwang Odede.

The commonest Luo “personal surnames” are as follows (O- always indicates a male; A- indicates a female; about 85% of Luo names include one of these). The meaning is indicated, when well known and accepted.

By spelling distortion, “personal surnames” finishing by the “lo” letters can also be find with a double “l” as Akello for Akelo or Omollo for Omolo etc.

Obong'o/Abong'o -- Only child
Hera -- "Love"
Obama – Twisting
Obiero/Abiero -- born with the placenta (biero mean placenta)
Obonyo/[Abonyo] -- Born during locust infestation (Bonyo is locust)
Obura/Abura -- Born during a meeting (bura mean meeting)
Oburu/Aburu -- Born during a funeral (buru mean ash)
Obuo/[Abuo] -- Is a medicinal water plant
Ochanda/XXXXX -- Difficult birth (Same for male and female)
Ochieng’/Achieng’ -- Born with the sun shining (Born about Noon & after (12n –2pm)) (chieng' mean sun)
Ochola/Achola -- Born after the father’s death
Ochuka/[Achuka] --
Odede/[Adede] --
Odero/Adero -- Born during a during a period of abundance (dero mean a granary)
Odhiambo/Adhiambo -- Born in the afternoon (Born around dusk (3-6pm); Born in the evening; Born after sunset) (odhiambo mean afternoon)
Odhon’g/Adhon’g -- Very old name; Meaning "Fist"
Odek - Born when mother had gone to pick traditional vegetables from farm
Odika/[Adika] -- Something that Steps hard on the ground
Odinga - Luhya Origin
Odiwuor/Adiwuor -- Born at night Like Owuor/Awuor(11pm-2am)
Odondi/[Adondi] -- Quarrelsome
Odongo/Adongo -- Second born of a twin pair
Odoyo/Adoyo -- Born during weeding
Oduol/[Aduol] -- Born in the father's house (Duol)
Oero/Aero -- Very old name; Meaning "To Love"
Ogola -- Born outside the house, just under the eave
Ogol -- Remove
Ogolo --Striger weed
Ogot/[Agot] -- Born on a hill (Especially if the mother had taken a walk not expecting the child to come).
Ogutu/[Agutu] -- Born next to the traditional Luo Ugali Bowl (Called Ogutu or Hagudu)
Oigo/[Aigo] -- Wrestle with
Ojwang'/Ajwang' -- Born after father died
Ojuok -- Born by the intervention of a spirit (juok mean spirit)
Okelo/Akelo -- Born after a pair of twins or the third born of triplets
Okech/Akech -- Born in famine
Okeyo/Akeyo -- Born at harvest time
Okinyi or Okinyo/Akinyi -- Born at dawn (Born just after dawn (6am-10am); Male form rare
Okombo/[Akombo] --
Okomo/Akomo -- Born in prosperous times or during planting
Okongo/Akongo -- Born during celebration especially where alcohol brew is plenty
Okoth/Akoth -- Born during rainy season (koth mean rain)
Okumu/Akumu -- ‘Mysterious birth’: Conception after a birth, but before resumption of menses (kum mean punition)
Okungu/[Akungu] -- Born during the outbreak of caterpillars, which was also an indication of impending bumpler harvest.
Oloo/[Aloo] -- It's the luo name for Adam
Oludhe/[Aludhe] -- Provoking, as the case of Peninah to Hannah in the Bible
Oluoch/Aluoch -- Born during a cloudy season
Omolo/Amolo -- Born around dawn (4-6am)
Omondi/Amondi -- Born around dawn (6-10am). Mostly men, used interchangeably with Akinyi for women
Okoka/[Anoka] -- Luo for Enock
Ondiek - Monster or A wild animal especially the Leopard
Oneko/[Aneko] -- Mad or Wild
[Ong’ina]/Ang’ina -- Round
Ongonga/[Angonga] --
Onyango/Anyango -- Born in the early morning (Born before Noon (10am-12noon)
Ooko/Aoko -- Born out-of-doors (usually unintentionally!)
Ooro/Aoro -- Born during dry season (oro mean drought)
Opiyo/Apiyo -- First born of a twin pair
Opolo/Apolo -- Very old name; Meaning Heavenly
Opondo/Apondo -- born hidden (pregnancy was not visible)
Otieno/Atieno -- Born at night (7- 11pm) (otieno mean night)
Otiende/[Atiende] -- Luhya Origin
Ouma/Auma -- Infant delivered into a prostrate position on the ground
Owino/Awino -- Born with umbilical cord around neck (Born covered in meconium or caul)
Owiti/Awiti -- ‘Thrown out’: Mother disowns infant for difficult birth as an apotropaic gesture
Owuor or Odwuor/Awuor -- Born between midnight & 2am
Oyange/Ayange -- Very old name; Meaning Discovered"
This page also includes a list of “Other Luo surnames, not following the “classic” pattern”

Excerpt #4
From "Africa's naming traditions: Nine ways to name your child" By Adelaide Arthur, BBC News
30 December 2016


Day and night
Among some groups in eastern and southern Africa, certain names are selected depending on the time of the day or season a child is born.


Olweny means time of war (Luo)


While the Luos are very specific:
Omondi (dawn)
Okinyi (morning)
Onyango (mid-morning)
Ochieng' (sunny midday)
Otieno (night)
Oduor (midnight)
Girls are given the same names but starting with an A instead of an O."

This concludes Part I of this two part series on Luo naming traditions.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment