Adventists and Luo Culture

By Odek Rabach


Odek Rabach

First Published: March 19, 2021

The Luo are a Nilotic ethnic group that is spread out in East and Central Africa. Most of them inhabit the shores and the environs of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania.1 Adventism among the Luo of Kenya is over a century old, tracing its roots to the missionary activities of Arthur Carscallen and Peter Nyambo, who arrived at Kendu Bay in the eastern shores of Lake Victoria in November 1906.2


Adventism rapidly spread among the Luo, and this can be observed in the number of Adventist churches and church entities that have been organized in the Luo territories. There are today three conferences and a field in Kenya, and one conference in Tanzania that are largely populated by the Luo.3 Luo Adventists are also found in the major cities in East Africa and also as far away as Europe and America.

The first wave of converts to Adventism became prominent people in society largely because of the Adventist emphasis on education. However, some of these early converts abandoned Adventism for Luo cultural practices, somewhat reversing significant early gains by the denomination. Paul Mboya and Joel Omer, who were some of the initial converts and first Luo Adventist pastors, later on became the Ker, a Luo cultural leader. The first Kenyan pastor was a Luo, Paul Mboya, who was ordained in 1931. He later left the ministry for the Provincial Administration in 1935 and reverted to Luo culture, even becoming a polygamist. He wrote a book on Luo culture.4 Therefore, culture has been a sticking point among the Luo who became Adventists. Many of those who abandon the faith do so largely because of cultural pressure.5 Modern socio-economic trends such as labor migration, urbanization, and education have led to the decline of some cultural practices. From late 20th century onwards, the AIDS scourge and its prevalence among the Luo has brought into question some cultural practices like wife inheritance, a major Luo cultural practice. Several leading voices have questioned the validity of some cultural practices, suggesting they be discarded due to emergent social realities.6 Nevertheless, the pervasive nature of the Luo cultural practices can be observed in the popularity of regular radio talk shows on Luo culture.7 There is always a fear of that, if one fails to comply with cultural practices misfortunes (called “chira”) may befall them.8 Many Luo Adventists find themselves quite often at crossroads and often under pressure to give in to cultural practices.

Marriage and Death

Luo cultural practices that conflict with Adventist teachings are mainly those that revolve around marriage and death. Marriage and death are the source and the hub of morality. It is a cultural belief that, through marriage and childbearing, one is immortalized.9 In death, a person transits into the spirit world.10 Death is therefore a momentous occasion among the Luo. This can be observed in their elaborate funeral preparations and ceremonies. The deep respect for the dead and the fear of ancestors underlines the activities surrounding death and funerals.11 Though the Luo have since abandoned many cultural practices, the rituals associated with death are still prevalent.12 It is in these rituals that the conflict between Adventism and Luo culture is mostly manifested. The Biblical view of death as terminal and not transitional has not permeated the Luo psyche. As in other African traditional religions, death is an initiation into another form of life.13 This conflict of worldviews is observed in the tension that some Luo Adventists undergo at the death of their relatives.

Marriage is a key institution among the Luo. It is central to the survival of the clan or the community. Luo women bear the names of communities they are married in. They are referred to as min Karungu, Kanyada, Alego, etc. (mother of Karungu, Kanyada, Alego) based on the clan in which they are married. This is because marriage is first and foremost mainly for engendering the community. It is a permanent institution. A Luo woman is married only once. Remarriage and divorce are not envisioned under any circumstance, and remarriage is not allowed even when the spouse is deceased. In the patriarchal Luo society, the woman remains married to the husband even in death. Therefore, in the event of the death of the husband, the widow is expected to perpetuate the household and the name of the deceased husband.14 This leaves Luo Adventist widows in a difficult situation as they are expected to be taken over by one of her brothers-in-law. There is also a crisis when the marriage union does not produce an offspring, preferably a male offspring. Polygamy becomes the remedy. This article explores Adventist response to these two aspects of Luo culture and others related to them. This is done by, first, describing the nature of these practices, and secondly, the Adventist response.

Luo Death Rituals

Death rituals among the Luo are ingrained in the belief in the existence of the spirit world and the ancestors.15 Elaborate death rituals were carried out, a few of which are nowadays still being practiced.16 Upon the pronouncement of death until the end of the mourning period, there are series of rituals.17 The duration between the pronouncement of death and the burial depends on the age and the prominence of the deceased. It is longer based on the gender, age, and prominence. For elderly men, the duration is also longer. After the pronouncement, the relatives begin vigils in the homestead of the deceased until the burial. The deceased must spend the night before the burial at home. The burial place is determined by the position and the role of the deceased in the family. The clan elders mark the place of burial and break the ground for the grave, then the youth dig the grave. Burials are usually held from noon onwards, depending on the age of the deceased. Widow cleansing, a recent development in Luo culture, is performed before the burial.18 Death, it was believed, rendered the widow unclean; therefore, a man was sought to have symbolic (or actual) sexual intercourse with the widow as an act of cleansing. The practice of widow cleansing is nowadays rarely practiced and is dying out. Several other rituals are performed from burial until normalcy is restored in the home after the event of death.19 After the burial, there is a ritual shaving, the first minor act to send away the spirit of death into the battleground. A little later, a repetition of the sending away of the spirit ritual is done in a major way. These two rituals, practiced less nowadays, were performed if the deceased was a man. The major death rituals revolving around the widow are discussed below.

The Widow and Ritual Cleansing

Death among the Luo has a massive impact on the widow. The widow is considered “marked off,” under ban or prohibition, and in a taboo state chola.20 Therefore, removing the taboo state (golo chola) is mandatory. The process begins with the widow identifying the one who would inherit her. She would then visit her natal home (tero chola), leaving the inheritor in her house. In her natal home, a goat would be slaughtered, then prepared and eaten. She would bring back some of the goat meat, which she would also prepare and eat with her inheritor, and have symbolic or actual sexual intercourse with him.21 This last act, referred to as removing the tassel (chodo kode)22, brings to an end the mourning period.23 For normalcy to be restored in the widow’s life and the family life to continue, a cleansing ritual is performed.24 These practices have significant socio-cultural ramifications. The widows who do not perform them are regarded as unclean, and the effects are dire. She is under a curse, or chira, and may die. Other social engagements are hindered. The homestead becomes unclean. Luo Adventist widows find themselves under pressure from the society to perform these rites so that they may resume normal social engagement. Widowhood among the Luo is a difficult state. There are so many things that only a husband or the one who plays the role of a husband can do. A woman is not allowed to initiate such activities as blessing her son’s marriage, marrying off a daughter, establishing a homestead, repairing a roof, or planting of crops, among others. A widow must therefore have an inheritor, jater, or she has no place in the society. Upon the death of a husband, the widow is to have another man formally selected by the clan. This is ostensibly to perpetuate the lineage of the deceased. In modern days, the widow may choose who may inherit her. In practice, women rarely have options in this matter. The widowed woman cannot remarry. She can only be inherited. This is a major source of tension for Luo Adventist widows.

The Widow and Establishment of a Homestead

Among the Luo, the establishment of a new homestead is impossible without a husband.25 A widow whose husband had not established a home, must be inherited in order to have a new homestead. In the Luo worldview, the home forms the unit of the clan, and thus must be properly established. The taboos associated with homestead establishment are dire, and consequences are serious when violated. The sons of the widow cannot establish new homesteads without a father. Though the practice is waning, there are some Luo regions where it is still prevalent. The role of the father was to be present at the establishment of the new homestead, break the ground, and plant the first post for the first house in the new home.26 This cultural practice has changed with time, and the types of buildings have also changed. Many have moved from the grass-thatched houses to semi-permanent or permanent buildings. Whatever the case, the father or a representative of the father must be present to perform the first ritual, of breaking the ground. The problem arises when there is no father. In this case, the mother has to find someone else, an inheritor or jater, to stand in for the father. In most cases, it is the sons of the widow who pile pressure on the mother to find the surrogate father.

The Underlying Beliefs

The rituals surrounding death emanate from the belief that the death renders other family members unclean, chola. A cleansing ceremony is therefore necessary for normalcy to be restored into the home.27 There are two concepts underlying this belief of impurity caused by death. The first is the belief that the spirit that brought death must be removed from the home.28 The second is that, in the Luo world view, for the restoration of order in propagating the family to be achieved a certain process has to be followed after the disruptive event of death.29 Serious consequences would befall those who do not adhere to this process of restoring normalcy. At death, the surviving members of the family, especially the widow, are considered to be under a taboo state. A strict adherence to the process of restoring normalcy is required. Otherwise, it is believed misfortune may befall the survivors.30 There are forces in the Luo universe to which they must conform. It is believed that conforming to chike (rules) has a potential of creating life and harboring death. Therefore, conforming to these rules is necessary in order to engender life.31

The other underlying reason for the practice of death rituals among the Luo is the fear of ghosts. The belief in ghosts is pervasive among the Luo. The narratives of mistreated deceased ones coming back “for pay back” are rife. It is probably the belief in ghosts that mostly influences the practice of death rituals rather than the idea of impurity. Ghosts are usually the living dead, who may come back and haunt the living.32 This belief is ingrained in the worldview that death is transitory and not terminal. Reality among the Luo comprises the spirit world populated by dead ancestors and the living dead.33 The funeral is therefore an important event. The way it is conducted will determine whether the spirits of the departed will haunt the surviving members or not. Ghosts are part of everyday life for the Luo people.34 The treatment of the dead and the subsequent rituals demonstrate how entrenched this worldview is among the Luo. It has survived more than a century of the Christian teaching about the state of the dead. There are those who neither believe in the ghosts nor impurity after the death of a relative but are forced to perform death rituals because of socio-economic ramifications.35 The fact that some Adventists still subscribe to these cultural practices when it comes to death indicates that the Luo worldview continues to play an important role in their lives.

Adventist Response

The early Adventist missionaries’ attitude reflected generally the attitude of the early Christian missionaries towards African culture. They viewed African cultural practices as evil and understood their role as helping the Africans abandon these “evil” practices.36 They assumed that all cultural practices, including rites of passage, rituals, ceremonies, divinations, songs and dances, were evil. This early attitude has been examined and has elicited various responses. There are those who saw the missionaries as collaborators with the colonizers, and others observe that, though they meant well, the missionaries were inadequately prepared for the anthropological aspects of the missionary task.37 They did not understand the mission context of the African culture. In spite of the enormous sacrifice in their missionary endeavors, there were major gaps. The missionaries assumed that western way of life and Christianity were one and the same, and wanted the Africans to adopt their way of life.38 There was confusion about the distinction between the two. Africans were deemed irreligious or, if religious, it was “evil.” Thus, they were introducing “religion” to them. On the contrary, the African was, in the words of Prof. Mbiti, “notoriously religious.”39 With this attitude, the missionaries failed in most cases to reach the African at the level of his or her world view. They taught their initial Africans converts to abandon their cultural practices. But this change was only peripheral. Africans adopted Christianity on the days of worship and continued with their cultural ways of life afterwards. Christianity, in most of the cases, never influenced their lives. In order to achieve their mission, most of the early missionaries established educational centers.40 From these centers, the evangelization of the African took place. Early Adventist missionaries used the same approach in attempting to reach the Africans.

The first Adventist missionaries to Kenya, Arthur Carscallen and Peter Nyambo, found much of Kenya “taken up” by other Christian missionaries. They came via Tanganyika, landing in the port of Tanga and went to Pare Mountains, where the first Adventist mission was established in 1903. They were then escorted to their new station by German missionary A.C. Enn, and ended up at Gendia, Kendu Bay, on the shores of Lake Victoria in 1906. Their first task was to set up a mission station.41

In this mission station, the initial group of students was taught to read and write. They opened another mission station at Wire in 1909. The missionaries used education as their strategies to approach the Africans. With the first baptism in 1911 at Gendia, the missionaries embarked on opening other mission stations to train the converts. They opened four mission stations in 1912-1913 in Karungu, Kanyidoto, Kamagambo, Rusinga, and Nyanchwa in Gussi land.42 The purpose was not only to train Africans to read and write, but to introduce them to better ways of living, construct better houses, and hygienic living. The withdrawal of these first students from the society to join these schools created an impression that everything Luo was to be discarded for the new “Christian” way of life embraced.43 This concept was replicated by opening several centers of learning. The abandonment of the culture by these schooled members created an impression that the Luo culture was evil.44 However, the response of the Luos during these early years was that those who embraced Adventism practiced it during the Sabbath, but in their day-to-day lives, they were steeped in Luo culture. The school system, though designed to help the Luo abandon some cultural practices, failed to penetrate their worldview.

When the Adventist church leadership became indigenized among the Luo from mid-20th century onwards, it continued with the same western missionary mentality of ignoring the Luo culture, and failed to conceptualize its underlying beliefs and its pervasive nature. The result was a continued lapse into cultural practices. The official church position on cultural practices was to censor those who practiced them. Censore was applied to those who participated in a wide range of cultural practices deemed to be evil. Even those who played drums during mourning ceremonies received censure.45 It seems the church leadership in Luo territories did not delineate practices that were contradictory to biblical teachings. This would have enabled the church to address the issues at the core. Those who were censured went through a period of cleansing, puodhruok, a cleansing just before the Lord’s Supper, and if found to have breached matters of faith, were removed from membership. Luo, ng’ado esawo literally meant, “removed from the Lord’s Table.” This was the understanding of not being in good and regular standing. Most pwuodhruok sessions had cases of people who had engaged in some prohibited cultural practice, mostly those associated to funerals. In most cases, those who lapsed back into cultural practices such as polygamy or wife inheritance, withdrew and stopped attending the church, or if they attended, never became very active church members. A few would later on be rebaptized and become church members.

The current Adventist response to Luo cultural practices has not changed much in spite of the exposure among Adventist clergy and laity. The majority of the Luo Adventist clergy are educated. This has led to the understanding and appreciation of Luo cultural practices and the Luo universe. Several works on Luo culture have been produced by Luo Adventist scholars. S.O. Misiani’s thesis on the practice of polygamy among the Luo is insightful. F. F. Gumbo’s dissertation on Adventist missiological response to traditional cultural practices is also an attempt to respond to the issue about cultural practices.46 Nevertheless, these scholarly works have not influenced much of the mission work among the Luo. The formal Adventist response to Luo cultural practices has remained the early missionary view, which was to abandon the Luo cultural practices without thinking of engaging the Luo worldview. The Luo universe has remained intact in spite of the exposure of the clergy and laity.


For over a century of the Adventist presence among the Luo, there have been significant developments. The growth and maturity of Adventism is witnessed in the establishment several church entities and institutions in the Luo region. Many Luos have experienced better socio-economic development courtesy of Adventist emphasis on education. There are Luo regions with fifth- or sixth-generation Adventists, and Adventism remains vibrant. Nevertheless, there are many Luo Adventists who still subscribe to Luo cultural practices in moments of crisis. As previously mentioned, Adventism still has not addressed the Luo at the worldview level.

There are several points that can be observed on how Adventists have responded to Luo cultural practices:

1. Adequate Knowledge of Mission Context: The responses of the Adventist Church from the time of the missionaries to modern times on Luo cultural practices indicate inadequate knowledge of the concepts underlying cultural practices. This knowledge would help in dealing with the practices at their core. The current stance of dismissing cultural practices has not helped the Luo Adventist at the time of crisis. Conversion should focus on the change of worldview. Knowledge of the culture of the receptors of the Gospel would help Gospel messengers in reaching the Luo. Therefore, the Adventist clergy need to make an effort in educating themselves about the Luo culture.

2. A mission strategy to the Luo: There is a need to develop a mission strategy to the Luo. Traditional approaches of evangelism among the Luo has largely proved inadequate. However, while these approaches have translated into many Luo converts to Adventism, the change is mostly peripheral. In moments of crisis, some Luo Adventists revert to cultural practices. Therefore, evangelistic endeavors among the Luo should incorporate discipling the new members into a new way of life, Christianity, and how to apply the Christian principles in their context without compromising the biblical principles and the Luo not losing their identity.

3. The View of Women: Some of the Luo cultural practices that conflict with Adventism involve some rituals Luo women perform. Therefore, it is critical to educate Luo Adventists about the biblical status of women. The Luo, whose concept of the first wife, mikayi, as highly respected personality, could easily appreciate the biblical status of women. The first wife was central to the activities in the home; her house occupied the central position in the homestead. Main rituals were performed from her house, and the husband’s grave was beside her house. This central role could be a contact point to educate Luo Adventists about the role of women. With the social fabric becoming less stringent, the Luo should be educated that the younger widows should be allowed to remarry.

4. Formal Response to Luo Cultural Practices: The Adventist Church among the Luo should equip the clergy and laity with sufficient information to respond to cases where Luo culture conflicts with Adventist teachings. The church conferences and fields among the Luo should develop policies on responding to cultural issues affecting Luo Adventists. The current state where the clergy are left to apply the broader Church Manual and Church Policy statements may not assist in practices affecting Luo Adventists. These policy statements should outline the response of the church to specific challenges facing Luo Adventists.

5. Replacement of Rituals: There should be ritual replacement for some cultural practices. For instance, there should be an order of service for some functions such as establishment of a home in the case of widows. The practice of the Luo Adventist widows inviting the church pastor or elder at the establishment of a new homestead should be well expressed in a formally written liturgy. This could be an item in the pastor’s handbook just like the one on the opening of a new house. The ritual conducted by the whole church should have a song, prayer, Bible reading on homes, groundbreaking, and then closing prayer. In places where construction may take a long time, the church can come again at the house-opening ceremony and worship with the family as they enter their home. The homestead has a social dimension, so the church needs to find suitable substitutes and plan some rituals on the establishment of the homesteads. There should even be rituals for the widow and the bereaved family and, as Gumbo suggests, a Holy Communion service for the bereaved family as they start life after the death of a loved one.47


Vitalis, Abong’o Ngore. “The Socio-Cultural Changes in the Luo Society Since the British Invasion and the Effect on the Levirite Custom: A Critical Survey.” Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, 2014.

Gumbo, Festus Felix. “Adventist Missiological Response to Traditional Beliefs in Kenya.” D.Min. Diss., Andrews University: Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A., 2002.

Mbiti, John S., Introduction to African Traditional Religions, East Africa Educational Publishers, Nairobi, 1975.

Mbiti, John S. African Traditional Religions and Philosophy. East African Educational Publishers. Nairobi, 2002.

Mboya, Paul. Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi. Anyange Press Ltd. Kisumu, 1983.

Mboya, Paul. Richo Ema Kelo Tho. East Africa Publishing House, Nairobi, 1978.

Misiani, S. O. “An Assessment of the Biblical teaching and practice of Polygamy in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Policy in Kenya.” M.A. Thesis, Andrews University: Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A., 1986.

Miruka Philip, Nathan Joshua, Jack Obong’o. “The Cultural View of the Luo People of Western Kenya on Widow Care and the Biblical Approach.” Sociology and Anthropology. (2015).

Nyarwath, Oriare. “Luo Care of Widow (Lako) and Contemporary Challenges.” Thought and Practice: A Journal of Philosophical Association of Kenya, Nairobi, 2012.

Nyaundi, Nehemiah. Marking 100 Years of SDA Activities in Gussi Kenya 1912-2012, University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, 2012.

Ocholla, A. B. C. Traditional Ideology and Ethics Among the Southern Luo. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1976.

Ocholla, A. B. C. Traditional Ideology and Ethics Among the Southern Luo. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1976.

Ogot, Bethwel. History of the Southern Luo. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1967.

Ogutu, G. E. M. Ker Jaramogi is Dead: Who Shall Lead My People. Palwa Search Publishers. Kisumu, 1994.

Onyancha, Boaz Kariuki. “African Spiritual Response to Western Christianity with Particular Reference to the Abagussi and the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ogembo Division, Kisii District Kenya.” M.A. Thesis University of Nairobi Kenya, Nairobi, 1989.

Muraya, Phylis. “Missionary Work in Kenya and African Response: Implication on Pastoral Care of Young Adults.”

Prince, Ruth. “Salvation and Tradition: Configurations at the Time of Death.” Journal of Religion in Africa, 2007.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second rev. ed. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald, 1996.

Shiino, Wakana. “Death and Ritual Among the Luo of South Nyanza.” in African Study Monographs, (1997).

Shorter, Alyward. Cross and flag in Africa: The “White Fathers” during the Colonial Scramble (1882-1914). Orbis Books, New York, 2006.

Hassan, Tugame Lubowa. “Attitudes of Christian Missionaries Towards African Traditional Religious Beliefs in East Africa British Colony.” African Journal of History and Culture 7, no. 10.

Vilhanova, Viera Pawlikava. “Christian Missionary Enterprise in Africa: A Synonym for Cultural Imperialism.” Africa Asian Studies 11, n. 52, 2002.


  1. Ogot Bethwel, History of the Southern Luo, (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1967) for the history, migration, and the settlement of the Luo.

  2. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia rev. ed. (1996), s.v. “Cascarlen, Arthur Asa Grandville.”

  3. These are the Ranen Conference, Kenya Lake Conference, Central Nyanza Conference, and Victoria Field in Kenya and Mara Conference in Tanzania.

  4. Paul Mboya, Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi, (Kisumu: Anyange Press Ltd), 1983.

  5. Backsliding from Adventist faith can be attributed mainly to practices such widow inheritance and polygamy among others.

  6. Abong’o Ngore Vitalis, “The Socio-Cultural Changes in the Luo Society Since the British Invasion and the Effect on the Levirite Custom: A Critical Survey,” Research in Humanities and Social Sciences 4 (2014): Miruka Philip, Nathan Joshua, Jack Obong’o, “The Cultural View of the Luo People of Western Kenya on Widow Care and the Biblical Approach,” Sociology and Anthropology 3, (2015): 240-250.

  7. Several Luo vernacular radio stations like Ramogi FM, Victoria FM, Lolwe FM host talk show programs in which Luo traditions are discussed with callers asking questions about Luo cultural traditions.

  8. Paul Mboya, Richo Ema Kelo Tho, (Nairobi: East Africa Publishing House Limited, 1978), 10-11; A.B.C. Ocholla, Traditional Ideology and Ethics Among the Southern Luo (Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies. 1976), 147.

  9. Ogutu, G. E. M, Ker Jaramogi is Dead: Who Shall Lead My People (Kisumu: Palwa Search Publishers, 1994), 13.

  10. John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Traditional Religions (Nairobi: East Africa Educational Publishers, 1975), 118-119.

  11. Wakana Shiino, “Death and Ritual Among the Luo of South Nyanza,” African Study Monographs, (1997): 213.

  12. Ruth Prince, “Salvation and Tradition: Configurations at the Time of Death,” Journal of Religion in Africa 37 (2007): 97.

  13. Mbiti, Introduction to African Traditional Religions, 118-119.

  14. Oriare Nyarwath, “Luo Care of Widow (Lako) and Contemporary Challenges,” Thought and Practice: A Journal of Philosophical Association of Kenya 4 (2012): 96.

  15. A.B.C. Ocholla, Traditional Ideology and Ethics Among the Southern Luo (Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies. 1976), 171.

  16. Shinno, Death Rituals, 216.

  17. Ibid.

  18. Oriare Nyarwath, Luo Care of Widows, 105. He observes that the practice of widow cleansing by professional cleanser is a relatively recent introduction into the Luo customs.

  19. Shinno, Death Rituals, 216-221

  20. Nyarwath, Luo Care of Widows, 99.

  21. Normally, a cloth or a walking stick is placed in the house of the widow by the potential inheritor.

  22. The bark cloth in form of a tassel tied on the wrist in former days was broken by the inheritor. Nowadays, the word chodo kode (breaking the tassel) is referred to without any literal corresponding ritual.

  23. Nyarwath, Luo Care of Widows, 99 opines that chodo okola or golo kode is the symbolic untying or removing of sorrows associated with the death of a spouse. It is a cleansing rite and the last funeral rite.

  24. Paul Mboya, Luo Kitgi gi Timbegi (Kisumu: Anyange Press Ltd), 1983, 122-124.

  25. Saphan Onyach, a Luo Elder from Kanyada, interview by Odek Rabach. He observes that the establishment of a homestead among the Luo is a simple, orderly event when the father figure is present. The sons establish their homesteads in the order of their birth. This is strictly adhered to. If a younger son does theirs first, the elder sons have to avoid stepping in the home. A home established without a father is not home, and the society does not acknowledge it. Anyone associated with it will be under a curse.

  26. Saphan Onyach, a Luo Elder from Kanyada, interview by Odek Rabach. He observes that the rituals attending to this event were elaborate. The one-day event commenced early in the morning when a father and the son whose home was to be established would carry a cock and an axe. The father then moves to the new site where the homestead is to be established and breaks the ground by digging the hole for the first post and plants the first post for the house.

  27. Nyarwath, Luo Care of Widows, 114.

  28. John S. Mbiti, African Traditional Religions and Philosophy, (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 2002), 203.

  29. Nyarwath, Luo Care of Widows, 95

  30. Ibid

  31. Prince, Salvation and Tradition, 98.

  32. Mbithi, Introduction to African Religion, 122-127.

  33. Ibid.

  34. Jim Harries, Ghosts and Cleansing amongst the Luo People of Kenya: An explanation of how Christianity is understood by an African people, 2000, 12.

  35. Prince, Salvation and Tradition, 91.

  36. Alyward Shorter, Cross and flag in Africa: the “White Fathers” during the colonial scramble (1982-1914), (New York: Orbis Books). 2006, 45; Tugame Lubowa Hassan, “Attitudes of Christian Missionaries Towards African Traditional Religious Beliefs in East Africa British Colony,” African Journal of History and Culture 7. Np\o. 10, 193.

  37. Viera Pawlikava Vilhanova, “Christian Missionary Enterprise in Africa: A Synonym for Cultural Imperialism,” Africa Asian Studies, 11 (2002), 52; Phylis Muraya, “Missionary Work in Kenya and African Response: Implication on Pastoral Care of Young Adults,”

  38. Vilhanova, Christian Missionary Enterprise in Africa, 65.

  39. Mbiti, Introduction to African Traditional Religions, 27.

  40. Vilhanova, Christian Missionary Enterprise in Africa, 61.

  41. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (SDAE), rev. ed., s.v. “Cascarlen, Arthur Asa Grandville”

  42. Nehemiah Nyaundi, “Marking 100 Years of SDA Activities in Gussi Kenya 1912-2012,” Baraton University, (2012), 7.

  43. See the idea of isolation of the initial converts so that they are not contaminated by the African customs of the interview of Abel Nyakundi in Boaz Kariuki Onyancha, “African Spiritual Response to Western Christianity with Particular Reference to the Abagussi and the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ogembo Division, Kisii District Kenya” (M.A. Thesis University of Nairobi Kenya, Nairobi 1989), 133-134.

  44. Ibid.

  45. Ibid.

  46. Festus Felix Gumbo, “Adventist Missiological Response to Traditional Beliefs in Kenya” (D.Min. Diss., Andrews University: Michigan U.S.A., 2002); S. O. Misiani, “An Assessment of the Biblical teaching and practice of Polygamy in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Policy in Kenya” M.A. Thesis, Andrews University: Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A., 1986.

  47. Gumbo, 166-167.


Rabach, Odek. "Adventists and Luo Culture." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 19, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2024.

Rabach, Odek. "Adventists and Luo Culture." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 19, 2021. Date of access June 18, 2024,

Rabach, Odek (2021, March 19). Adventists and Luo Culture. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024,