It needs no mention that the Luo-speaking people are a force to reckon with in the three East African countries of Uganda Kenya and Tanzania. In Kenya they are the second largest tribe surrounding Kenya's only share of the waters of Lake Victoria, an area which until the second half of the 16th century was largely Bantu
world. Because the Luo are a people who, until about the turn of this century have been on the move, the task of the research on their religious attitudes, beliefs and practices, is to discern its authentic continuity and change within the general rubric of history and experience. And, in order to perceive the dimensions of change and development some aspects of culture contact and interraction in the course of their southern trek and settlement in western Kenya, requires careful scrutiny.
The study commences predictably with a dilineation of the Luo setting in western Kenyas the people; their geographical setting, ethnic identity, traditional education and concept of family. It is within the context of the family, and the sacrificial ceremonies the members of the family participate in, tha^ Luo religious concepts including the concept of God must be understood.
But, the Luo of western Kenya, like the children of Israel, had their religious heritage influenced by their migratory mode of life, and the people in whose land they settled. To determine the influence of such peoples the study takes a turn and looks at the historical background of the Luo prior to their arrival and settlement in western Kenya. Herein is seen an important clue to the influence of ecology and historical experience on a people's beliefs and practices. The study then proceeds with a description of the traditional Luo Idea of God.
When people who possess different cultures meet and live together for a long time it is unlikely that the cultures they possess after long contact shall ever be the same again. A synthesis takes place, the end product of which though it might be dominated by one of them, involves mutual sharing and borrowing from all of them. This was the situation in the West Kenya scene as the Luo arrived, settled and lived together with their neighbours: the Luyia, the Gusii, the Kuria, and the Maasai.
Closely knit with the Luo Idea of God is belief in the world of the unseen and the supernatural forces. There follows therefore, a study of the relationship between the living and the dead, including ancestral ethical sanctions and belief in ithe world of spirits.
Active propagation of belief through practice is the hub of the Luo Traditional Religion, where the act of worship is through the avenues of prayer, offerings and sacrifice. Here the study probes into the Luo concept of worship with delineations concerning "ancestor Worship" and the worship of God.
The thesis concludes by showing how the traditional Luo religious beliefs and practices have persisted in spite of the environmental, social, economic and political factors that descended upon them in the course of their early history.