Category Archives: Top Articles

Threads Stitched By Standard Bank: The Business Of Fashion Accelerator Programme

Instagram flyer

The global Fashion industry today is worth 3 trillion USD however, Sub-Sahara Africa accounts for only 1% of that.

Of all the potential obstacles to growing this market in South Africa, it seems creative talent and exposure are the least of what hinders upcoming fashion brands from thriving on the international scene, access to finance even less. There is a definite need for teaching the business of fashion – fashion entrepreneurs need to be supported in professionalizing their enterprises and running a truly profitable business.

There is real opportunity to take South Africa’s up-and-coming fashion designers and turn them into powerful fashion CEO’s. Given the appropriate support, these fashion entrepreneurs could be running profitable businesses capable of competing on the international apparel scene, creating jobs, and having an impact on the South African economy.That’s why purpose-driven marketing agency NONZēRO partnered with Standard Bank to create: the Business of Fashion accelerator programme “Threads – stitched by Standard Bank”:

What Standard Bank is looking to do is support the entrepreneurs’ creativity with the crucial business know-how, mentorship and support that’ll propel the business to the point where they’re experiencing real growth, and running like professional outfits. The partnership with Standard Bank is a key to delivering on this goal. In order to supplement the programme with an academic backbone, the team partnered with the e4 Impact Foundation, an initiative of the Universita Cattolico of Milan focussing on impact entrepreneurship. Together they created a 12-week curriculum that focuses on the business operations of a fashion enterprise: From financing and retaining employees, to lean manufacturing and eCommerce, as well as specialized procurement methods and marketing.

The programme is open to all fashion entrepreneurs with existing business operating in South Africa, and is taught simultaneously from four regional classroom hubs: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The programme takes place two evenings per week for a 12-week duration. The participants will also be taken on action learning field trips across South Africa designed to showcase best practices’ across the country in various fields.

Working together with the Standard Bank Incubator and a strong eco-system of partners in business (including Mercedes-Benz), government and civil society, the programme calls upon the expertise of some of South Africa’s top business minds and thought leaders as programme teachers. The programme uses real-life case studies and experiential learning exercises to reinforce the academic learnership of the programme with practical industry insights.

At the end of the programme, the participants will be invited to present their new business model in a business case presentation to a panel of judges, and the winning participant will be taken on an international trade trip to Europe. The key focus of this trade trip is a meeting with a high-impact private distribution network enabling the participant to liaise with and present their business/products to wholesale buyers and retailers, as well as attending trade fairs.

The winning participant will receive an SME start-up pack courtesy of Standard Bank, will become a Mercedes Benz brand ambassador and drive the brand new vehicle for a 12 month period, as well as benefit from continued mentorship by the Threads team.

To participate in the Threads programme, interested entrepreneurs can apply online, via Threads website, http://www.threadsonline.co.za. (Open to entrepreneurs with an existing business in operation in South Africa for at least one year). The application process opens on 11th September, 2017 for a one-month period, ending on 11 October, 2017.

 

Advertisements

#MBFWJ17 Day 1 Favourites

AFI Prive

Last night Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2017 kicked off at Mall of Africa in Johannesburg and day 1 has set a good pace for the rest of the days. Fellow fashionistas and I braved the cold and windy Joburg weather for the love of fashion.

AFI Prive which is an African Fashion International inhouse fashion brand made a return last night on the runway and I must say that I was impressed with the collection. “Under the African Sun” is what the collection embodied and the garments were made of soft and comfortable fabrics. The kind of clothes that one wears in an African summer next to the pool, river or beach; whatever floats your boat. The cute thin waist belts were significant in giving the best view of the outfits. My absolute favourite outfit was the off the shoulder crop top with multi-layered sleeves and the matching pants which give off a relaxed look.

AFI PriveAFI PriveAFI PriveAFI PriveAFI PriveAFI Prive

All the looks from the AFI Prive collection can be shopped at the AFI Prive store at the crystal court at Mall of Africa and soon on the website http://afiprive.com/

Thula Sindi is showcasing again and I couldn’t be any happier. Before the show, everyone who follows Thula Sindi on Twitter and I got to see a sneak peek of what to expect at his show and true to his word; his collection reflected his obsession with hard edged details on soft fabrics.

My favourite dresses from Thula Sindi’s collection are the dresses above whose details are hard to miss, I definitely paid so much attention here and I could not help but see a peacock in its glory  as its covert feathers are  displayed during the  courtship ritual.

The collection also featured some of the best embroidery I have ever seen. Everything was just so precise, in the right colour and paired with best pieces. I love that you can switch up the TS garments and you can wear them for any occasion.

Thula SindiThula SindiThula SindiThula Sindi

Other designers who showcased included Gavin Rajah and Spero Villioti. Even Though their collection were nice, I would have loved to see something different because I feel like we always see the same collections from them. Spero Villioti had models wear fake colourful locks which did nothing for the collection and we have seen this before in international designers. I honestly did not see the point of the fake locks as they added nothing to the story.

Photo Credits: SDR Photo

Originally Kasified Clothing Revealed Art Inspired Women’s Collection

sfwss17_kasified33

This year Originally Kasified Clothing has been showing women’s collection starting with the Autumn/Winter collection that they showcased earlier this year at Soweto Fashion Week, which I absolutely loved. but by far this Spring/Summer collection inspired by elements of Art is my favourite.”Not only was it a part of this year’s plans but also because I’ve always wanted to make a womens wear collection since I’ve started showcasing at SFW and other shows. It gives me an ability to tell a story through the style that I’ve created in a more realistic and understandable way” , says Afrika Mabena the designer. He wanted to show his other creative side.


The collection is telling a story of a young woman who loves shopping. A clean example of someone who just got paid, looking all nice and classy, feeling herself and comfortable in her outfit. And all this happens in a mall, heading to her favourite shoe store, to pick up her favourite shoes…the rest of the story is just the imagination of how this fun concept ends. Afrika used lines, shapes and colours. The colour combinations of the outfits was amazing, it was the right amount of black and white and the equally amazing touch of mustard and burnt orange. the stripes and the blocks draw you to the collection and the colours keep you there. I imagine that it was fun for the models to wear these outfits and there is no doubt in my mind that I would have had a blast on the runway. There is nothing more sexy than an outfit that makes a woman looks stylish and still allows her to have fun and I believe that Afrika Mabena achieved style and fun in this collection.

All photos by Eunice Driver

#MBFWJ: NN Vintage Perfectly Portrays The African Queen Trend

NN Vintage

Last night NN Vintage wowed fashion lovers with a star-studded showcase at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg in Sandton. I was eager to see what NN Vintage had in store for us because I have always been impressed by their previous collections. I really relate to the garments and I am definitely the kind of woman who wears and understands NN Vintage. The African Queen trend has really taken over with women all over Africa embracing headwraps and really taking pride in their cultures. NN Vintage keeps up with the times and the collection is modern and played a lot with stripes, grays and a pop of colour just to brighten it up.

What stood out for me is that the showcasing was more than the fact that the Queens are proud of who they are. African queens love each other, they dance together, the have fun together and they generally encourage each other. African Queens uplift each other and provide opportunities to each other. That is what the African Queen trend is all about and I believe that  the celebrities who walked for Nhlanhla Nciza’s show cemented the fact that African Queens support each other and they are happy for the other’s successes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All images by AFI

Jenevieve Lyons Wows Fashion Lovers At #SAMW

16B_SAMW_SDR_4149_SDR_JenevieveLyons_w580_h386

Jenevieve Lyons always leaves us talking after every show and last night’s show was no different. The LISOF graduate has sure came a long way since her AFI FastTrack days.  Her latest collection titled Deferential which she debuted last night at South African Menswear Week in Cape Town is all sorts of amazing. She says that the collection plays on the ugly, gender fluidity and juxtapositions. It is the new movement of anti “being”  and anti categorization. So basically the collection is about not being and my take on this is that it is not just for men but for women as well. I love the layers and her amazing skill with the cut-outs. It’s a true work of art and that green grass had me looking forward to summer. The garments allow for easy movements and are suitable for all kinds of weather. I love that the kind of person to wear a Jenevieve Lyons creation is one who cares about looking great and is not bothered about what people think is masculine or womanly. The contrast of the colours draws you in and when you thought that was the wow factor, the tailoring and the creativity with the belts and the layering gets you. This is my favourite collection from Jenevieve thus far and judging from the people’s reactions on social media, I am not the only one. Which is a good thing because as a designer your current collection should be better than your last and that is what Jenevieve Lyons has nailed to the T.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos by SDR Photo

Imprint A/W 2016: Haboring Hope

Pg 9

I was introduced to Imprint By Mzukisi Mbane last year at SA Menswear Week in Cape Town and I have been hooked ever since. I love the way Mzukisi styles his look books and how he takes you to places. The choice of models is always the perfect fit, on Haboring Hope he works with Corine and Lesala Mampa.

pg 3,4

Clothing :  Imprint
Stylist : Mzukisi Mbane
Models: Corine (female) and Lesala Mampa (male)
Photographer : Dylan Louw
MUA : Prada

Pg 5,6

Haboring Hope is a collection inspired and dedicated to changing and challenging the concept of menswear and the meaning of being a men in Africa in a very beautiful, calm and less dramatic way.
Last season we started on a journey, creating gender bending looks. Also referred to as unisex. Inspired by the woman who gave birth to us all. This season we are still on that same gender bending tip. But this time inspiration is taken from various cultural group as well as religious group. Translating this in a more edgy, futuristic and clean way.- Mzukisi Mbane- Founder & Creative Director

Pg1,2 Pg 12,13 pg 7,8Pg 10,11

Mzukisi the Creative Director of Imprint says Haboring Hope is unapologetic and it is definitely not about fitting in, it’s simply about being you and it is peaceful and calm. In creating this collection, he says he was taken to a place where creativity is limitless and I can surely see that from his collection. You are immediately drawn in by how simple yet unique his designs are and the combination is just RIGHT.

Pg 16, 17 pg 18, 19

I found myself having this freedom. I got taken to a place where creativity was basically limitless. I became free to challenge the very idea of what menswear is (to the society). How it is supposed to be constructed, the silhouettes and well which lines to cross. In this collection you see me playing around with a lot of geometric shapes. Most shapes taken from a deconstructed a – line skirt.I also found my self challenging and exploring  the term over-sized and fitted. I was able to just create and have that “so what” attitude. I wanted to tell the story of believing in your dreams and who you are from a different side. A side where you don’t have to fight. Aside of beauty and peace.- Mzukisi

Pg 14,15 pg 20,21

“Hope on bravely”

Tropics Voices Ambassadors

I am so happy to announce that a couple of awesome human beings and I have been selected as Tropics Voices Ambassadors by South African based media group called Tropics Media.We will be sharing our stories on http://www.tropics-magazine.com stay tuned and follow our articles on different topics.

ADRIENNE ANGE ANGELA CHANTAL CHARLOTTE CHRISTIAN DJI FATOU GUY JOACHIM MARIANNE MELANIE OLUFUNKE PATRICE PETER RONKE SOIZIC SRIMAL URS VENICIA VUYISO WANDA YETUNDE

African Cultures By Young Africans: Bashi Tribe

Photocred: Patricia Lokwa

Photocred: Patricia Lokwa

BASHI TRIBE FROM SOUTH KIVU IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Written By Eddy Mihigo

I am from the Bashi tribe in the South Kivu province, one of three provincial groups (the others being Maniema and North Kivu) that make up the Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s Second Largest country and is one of the most populated in Africa. The capital is Kinshasa, which is situated in the Central Western part of the country. The country is Surrounded by 11 countries, which the most neighbours any country has in Africa.  A lot is already known about the riches of the country, and the wars that plague it.

Geographically, the Kivu province is made up of three provinces that run along the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania (along the Lake Tanganyika).  This area is unique in the DRC because of its climatic and geological conditions. The eastern Maniema Province is located in the Plateau and core basin areas. Height reaches approximately 500 metres and the equatorial forest is an important portion of the area. The climate here is hot and the region has a very short dry season. Height rises towards the east, reaching 1500 to 2000 metres with peaks of 5000 metres in the mountainous and plateau area. This area, the North and South Kivu, is called the “Mountainous” Kivu. It is the Congolese portion of the large range of mountains and tectonic deeps that crosses from Northern to Southern Africa from the Red Sea to the Zambezi River. This specific area conditions the hydrographic net, because of the lakes that are situated here.  From north to south there is Lakes Albert, George, Edward, Kivu and Tanganyika. This system splits up two huge hydrographic basins of the Congo and the Nile rivers.

Brief History of Traditional Authorities

Administratively, most tribes in the Kivu are organized around collectivities, with each based on a specific lineage. These in turn are divided in sub-groups and villages. Various collectives are mono-ethic, but tribes often have blood ties with neighboring collectivities. The tribes’ traditional boundaries loosely became the basis of modern administrative boundaries.

The collectivity, and any lower administrative level is headed by a Mwami (Chief), who is also part of the modern administration. The same tribe can have several Bwami (plural) at the same traditional level. Their ranks are however differentiated by the (modern) administration (Collectivity>subgroup>village). Historically, the major responsibility of the Mwami centered around the allocation of land among members of his tribe. Today, the Mwami’s major role is to conserve customs and traditions. The Bwami retain spiritual influence over their people and continue to play a role in mobilizing people, as they had done since pre-colonialism.Each tribe has a council of elders to assist the Mwami in managing local affairs. The council is often made up of lower Bwami, and may also include men of competence. The Bwami also have responsibility over lower courts to deal with local disputes about matters relating to land use, divorce, bride price and rape. They are assisted in these functions by local judges who are selected by the Mwami himself according to competence. The next higher Mwami (if there is one) must confirm the selection.

The Ethnic and native Tribes of Kivu

With over 30 native tribes, the Kivu is one of the most organized provinces in the country, with each tribe having a well-defined hierarchy.  I will concentrate on the tribes I am directly connected to.

A brief history of the relationship between the Banyabungo (Bahavu – Sibula Dynasty) and the Bashi (Ngweshe/Kabare – BushiDinasty). The mother of Nsibula I yaNyibungawasNyibungawaKamome and was the daughter of King of the Bushi,NnabushiKamome. At the time Bushi was one and the capital was in Kabare in Cirunga. She was kidnapped at the time of the invasion in Bushi by the Mwami of Rwanda Nsoro 1stSamukondo. She would later be remitted to her father by the Rwandan king himself. Her father then sent her to live with his younger brother, her uncle, Chief Chifundangombe, who impregnated her. Ashamed of this, and to avoid any scandals. Her father then married her to the king of Bunyabungo (Buhavu) LukaraRwaNsibula, the son of Mbebaerimanza. Lukara then became the adopted father of the child that was born, who took the name of Nsibula, and became known later as Nsibula I yaNyibunga.

The Bushi people, who were a powerful kingdom that extended from Kabare in the North, along the Lake Kivu to the south in Walungu, were constantly plagued by invasion and infighting. This caused a rift in the tribe and today, they are scattered across the land, each with its own Mwami.

IJWI(IDJWI):  An island on the Kivu Lake in South Kivu, which was annexed by Rwanda at the end of the 19th century and ceded by the Germans to Congo in 1910. The Belgians made Ijwi a vassal of Buhavu in 1921, a cause of instability until 1940. The capital is Rambo. Ijwi was split in two in 1943 by the Belgians with Rubenga in the North, and Idjwi in the south.

RULING DINASTY: Sibula

TITLES:

Head of Family: The Mwami of Ijwi

Name: Roger NtambukaBalekageMihigo II (in Exile)

FAMILY MEMBERS:

Sons of MwamiMwendanga:

  1. MwamiKabego
  2. Balikage, Sultani of Rubenga

PREDECESSORS:

MwamiMwendanga, +c1870. Son of Kabwika (heir and oldest son of BihakoBamanyirwe, Mwami of Buhavu) and father of:

MwamiKabego c1870-…, +c1889. Father of:

MwamiMihigo I Ndogosa c1878-deposed 1889, restored 1896-deposed…, exiled,  +1928

MwamiNtambukaBarhakana 1928-194 and restored around 1960-72. Half-brother of:

Chief Mahamiriza 1943-1960,

MwamiMihigo I, +c1998

Roger NtambukaBalekageMihigo II, Mwami of Ijwi

NGWESHE: A state in the Walungu District of South Kivu on the Kivu Lake, the junior line of the Bashi Dynasty who pushed the senior line north to the present territory of Kabare, also known as Bushi.

TERMS

Baluzi: Princes

Bami: plural of Mwami

Bashi: People of Bushi

Bwami: Kingdom

Mwami: King

MwamiKazi: Queen Mother

RULING DYNASTY: Bushi

TITLES 

Head of the family: The Mwami of Ngweshe

Name: Ngweshe XV Weza III Pierre J.M.J. NdatabayeMuhigirwa, Mwami of Ngweshe since before 1979, Senator, jailed in Kinshasa around 1998 (Exiled)

PREDECESSORS

MwamiNgweshe XIV Muhigirwa 1936 – … Father of

Ngweshe XV Weza III Pierre J.M.J. NdatabayeMuhigirwa, Mwami of Ngweshec1979-…

 

BASHI CHIEFDOMS

Burinyi (Burhinyi): A Bashi Chiefdom in the Mwenga District of South Kivu, a part of which split to form the Chiefdom of Kabare.

Head of family: MwugandaBas(h)engezi, Mwami of Burinyi, c1997

Kalonge: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Kalehe District, South Kivu Province.

Head of family: NakalongeMpagama II, Mwami of Kalonge c1997 (jailed in Kinshasa in 1998)

Kaziba: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Walungu District of the Province of South Kivu (formerly known as Bafulero).

Head of family: Chimanye II KabonwaNnakaziba, Mwami of Kaziba c1998 (Exiled)

Luhwindja: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Menga District of South Kivu

Head of Family: Philemon MukubaNaluhwindja, Mwami of Luhwindja 1988 – 2001 (Killed) Successor unkown.

Nnindja: A Bashi chiefdom in the Kabare District, South Kivu

Head of family: NanindjaBalekembaka, Mwami of Nindja since 1989 (Exiled)

Kabare: A Bashi Chiefdom in the Kabare District, South Kivu Province, the senior line of the Bashi Dynasty that was pushed north by the Junior line (from  Ngweshe). The capital is Chirunga.

Dynasty: Mwoca

Head of Family: Desire KabareRugemanizi II, Mwami of Kabare since 1990 (Jailed in Kinshasa in 1998) (Exiled).

SOCIAL LIFE IN KIVU

The culture in Kivu is a peculiar one, mostly because it allowed itself to be influenced by external forces (colonial), while it kept its core values. The constant changing local political landscape, along with the tribal conflicts have shaped the people, but have not cancelled the traditional cultural practices, which already had a strong impact on the rural environment where 80% of the people live. Almost all activities, from agricultural techniques to construction methods

 

 

 

African Cultures By Young Africans: Tsonga Ethnic Group

Photo: kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com

Photo: kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com

The Tsonga Ethnic Group – “Royalty of the East”

By @FanaThePurp

VaTsonga are a coastal people that Inhabits South-East Africa,spread out in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. There are over 12 million Tsonga speakers in the world of all Xitsonga variants; majority is in Mozambique, then followed by South Africa.

Tsonga means East, it is the Southern pronunciation of the word Rhonga, which means East. The Tsonga people are also known as Tonga or Thonga. The Tsonga ethnic group is a combination of various groups of different origins such asMbai, Karanga (Rozwi, Ndau etc.) and Nguni and Sotho (Arrived eVutsonga around the 1800s). These groups came to eVutsonga for different reasons; Vutsonga was set up different to their Kingdoms and surrounding Kingdoms. Vutsonga was an economic hub and was less hostile, and international with Persia and Asia was booming. New Chiefdoms and Kingdoms were established, but these identities were formed on cultural assimilation and not conquest or war. Language linked the people of the East, cultural customs separated them from people on the other side of Save, the people of BuKaranga, and the Ngoni on the South.

Xitsonga is part of the Tswa-Ronga/Tshwa-Rhonga language family.

The Tsonga ethnic group is made of the following tribes and language groups:

  • VaHlengwe
  • VaN’wanati
  • VaNdau
  • VaRhonga
  • VaNhlave
  • VaKhosa
  • VaLenge
  • VaHlanganu
  • VaDzonga
  • VaXika
  • Valoyi
  • VaBila
  • Machangani

Linguistically, Xitsonga has the following main variants:

  • Xitshwa
  • Xihlengwe
  • Xikhambani
  • Xirhonga
  • Xihlanganu
  • Xidzonga
  • Xibila
  • Xin’walungu
  • Xiluleke
  • Xihlave
  • Xilenge
  • Gitonga

Tsonga people did not have a single political entity. Different Tsonga tribes had their own political power. Places or areas were named after the geographic direction or the people who inhabitant the land. Varhonga are the most easterners, inhabitant by the Tembe in Northern KZN and Maputo, in the coast. Then you had eHlengweni, the land of wealth and the land of the Hlengwe tribe. The Vahlanganu are the rainbow nation of the Tsonga people, they are made up of different Tsonga groups, hlangani means mixture. And some areas were named after its soil type, such as Bileni, which is a dark rich soil.
The Tsonga people don’t have a King. Mutsongaahiwarimhondzo, Tsonga is not a lineage. But various Tsonga tribes have Kings, Chiefs natindhuna who rule their respective people.

Unlike in Mozambique,VaTsongava South Africa use their ethnic identity instead of their tribal identities like in Mozambique. This is because in South Africa, the Tsonga people are a minority and are made out to be foreigners and reduced to animals on land they inhabitant long before majority of Bantu groups in present day South Africa. The major ethnic group in South Africa is the Nguni, then followed by the Sotho and Tsonga is third. The economic and political segregation of the Tsonga people forced Tsonga tribes to come together in solidarity for survival. The Tsonga tribes in South Africa stood as an ethnic group while the other ethnic group stood as individual tribes, as it is to this day.

But the creation of Gazankulu reduced the Tsonga ethnic group to a tribe, feeding into the Shangaan agenda to Shangaanize the Tsonga ethnic group to revive its Kingdom. The South African government used the Shangaan against the Tsonga people to divide them. Pop culture popularized the word Shangaan to mean Tsonga. The mines used Shangaan to refer to VaTsonga and Gazankulu officiated Shangaan to Tsonga.

And that’s how Tsonga became Shangaan.

Shangaan is Tsonga, but Tsonga is not Shangaan.

The Tsonga has survived over a thousand years, this is due to the very nature of the Tsonga identity; it is not about conquering people. It is about culture, heritage, language and wealth as means of unity, and not as reasons for war.

Ancient Facts about VaTsonga:

  • International traders/Merchants
  • Advance Farmers
  • Artisans
  • Fishing (First people in Southern African to fish)
  • Organized Labor & Mining
  • First Bantu group to interact with the Portuguese and the first people to defeat a European army in an arms war in Southern Africa.

Popular Tsonga Surnames:

Cawuke, Mavasa, Maluleke, Khosa, Baloyi, Ndlhovhu, Nkuna, Mathevula, Ngoveni  etc..

The Tsonga people are also known for the high tempo, known as Tsonga Electro and traditional, with legendary artists such as Dr. Thomas Chauke, Paul Ndlovu, Peta Tenet and Penny Penny. The Tsonga people have produced a number of prominent political leaders in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa such as SamoraMachel, and Eduardo Mondlaneetc… Including the legendary JomoSono and Irvin Khoza, and notorious Collins Chauke.

 

For more on Tsonga people go to http://fanathepurp.co.za/category/project-tsonga/

African Cultures By Young Africans : LUO TRIBE

I had an interesting  conversation with Winnie when I asked her what tribe she was. She told me that she did not know much about the Luos (her people) but she will do all she can to acquire more information and she did.

***************************************************************

LUO TRIBE written by Winnie Odande

11892265_10155903942360247_2887558086691873436_n

Twitter & Instagram @fitndiscover

***************

So when I got an inbox from Vuyiso asking me what tribe I am, I was curious to know why. She is South African so that was a bit out of the blues. Then she tells she’s doing this African series on her blog and after a few chit-chats we decide I’m going to guest post about my culture.

Exciting as it was, it was also daunting because as much as I’m Luo, I’m your typical town girl having visited my rural area less than 5 times in my entire lifetime, (yea, I know). Meaning I basically know little to nothing about my culture save for what I learnt in school, which I don’t completely remember, and the few things I pick up along the way. Anyway, it was a nice opportunity for me to reconnect with my tribe hence I couldn’t let it pass.

My name is Winnie Odande and I am Luo, 100% Luo. I always get inboxes of people asking me whether I’m Nigerian because apparently Odande is a Nigerian name. I was told the other day by a Nigerian pal that it is a Yoruba name. What do I know? Ask my parents.

My tribe is one of the 42 ethnic groups in Kenya with its own unique values, skills, languages and cultural practices. We mainly inhabit the Nyanza County of Western Kenya.  If I remember my History well, we are believed to have originated from Southern Sudan, travelling along the River Nile. I think after years of walking along the river we were probably drawn to the water features because we ended up establishing our settlements in the lands surrounding Lake Victoria. I must tell you that Lake Victoria is quite beautiful. Over the years though its beauty has been marred by the effects of the hyacinth and we only hope that the government will do something to clear the problem because it is also affecting the existing water life. My home, read ‘shagz’ Kenyan slang for rural home, is a just a few metres from the lake and I remember us walking down to the lake and seeing people doing their house chores like washing clothes, bathing, and economic activities all at the same place. Trust me, there was order.


The Joka-jok who were closely followed by Jo-k’Owiny.
The Luo tribe is the third largest community in Kenya .Our arrival took place in phases. The first groups to arrive were:

  • Jok’ Omolo came in third and the Luo Abasuba made the final arrival; The Luo Abasuba are as a result of intermarriage between the Luo and Ugandan Bantu.

What we are famously known for as a tribe is our traditional practices and our mastery of the English dialect. We are also known to be quite intelligent persons and we also boast of raising serious scholars and intellectuals like Tom Mboya, Prof.Anyan’g Nyong, James Orengo, PLO Lumumba and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Raila Odinga to name but a few.

When it comes to the cultural practices, we have the most obvious ones which are known countrywide like; Luos don’t circumcise their men. The traditional Luo man was initiated by removal of the lower six teeth. Don’t ask me whoever came up with that and why they thought it wise. Although with time government initiatives and sensitization has seen the modern Luo man getting circumcised in the quest to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Another cultural practice we are highly acclaimed for which I find quite retrogressive is the wife inheritance. If a man dies and leaves behind a widow, his brother  or close relatives inherit the widow, she becomes his wife and he in turn must meet all her marital requirements. This tradition is also slowly fading away especially with the rebellious and learned crop of the urban generation and the entry of Christianity.  In addition to this, we have the mourning ceremony, tero buru, which is still widely practiced. This is a unique, elaborate and dramatic ceremony that symbolizes the departure of a loved one.

Marriage is considered a vital rite of passage among the Luo. Traditionally, a marriage ceremony was conducted in two phases, which involved the payment of a bride price by the groom. The first phase is the Ayie involving a payment of money to the mother of the bride; the second phase involving giving cattle to her father. Usually, these two steps are carried out simultaneously, and as many modern day Luos are into Christianity, a church ceremony then follows.

In the Luo Culture the birth of a baby in the family was and still is a big celebration among the members of that family and friends. In the olden days, the celebrations included some rituals which were done. Among the rituals were:

  • Naming the child – This was done a few days after birth, by the parents of the child. Luos were naming their children after their dead relatives, the time and the season the child was born, and if a mother conceived without seeing her periods.
  • Shaving – In olden days shaving of a new born was a ritual of its kind. The shaving was done by a grandmother or an aged lady from the some clan, if the grandmother was not around or was dead. The person shaving was required to have a calabash (Agwata) full of water, a traditional razor and traditional Herb. A calabash full of water was used to prevent the baby from being obese, the traditional Herb was used as soup.
  • Taking the child outside for the first time – Boys were taken out after 4 days and girls after 3 days. This was usually done in the morning hours between 9:00 am – 10:00 am to avoid the heat.
  • Visiting the mother and her new born baby – According to Luo culture when a baby is born in a family, the relatives and friends must pay a special visit. In the olden days, many rituals were also performed during this visitation. The first visitation was done by the lady’s young sisters to represent their mother. The sisters were sent with cooked food and food which was not cooked. The cooked food included Meat (Sun dried) ,Ugali made from Millet flour, Indigenous Vegetables i.e. African Nightshades (Osuga), Spiderplant (Dek), Crotalaria (Mitoo). The cooked food was eaten cold and served in a small basket called (Adita). After this, one sister was usually left behind to help the sister until she was strong.

For Luos living in rural areas, fresh-water fishing in Lake Victoria is the most important economic activity. The fish are consumed locally while some, especially the Nile perch, are exported to Europe and other countries. Fish and ugali are our staple foods. Agriculture, especially sugarcane and cotton farming, is also practiced in other areas where we live.

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

  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
  • Ochieng Aneko
  • Tom Mboya
  • Robert Ouko
  • Raila Odinga

We have very enriched traditional dance costumes; skirts made from sisal and colored beads worn around the neck and waist. Ladies usually use red and white clay to decorate them. All these costumes and ornaments are made from local materials.