Joluo people


Joluo (Luo)

The Luo of Kenya and Tanzania are a Nilotic ethnic group native to western Kenya and the Mara Region of northern Tanzania in East Africa.

The Luo are the fourth-largest ethnic group (10.65%) in Kenya, after the Kikuyu (17.13%), the Luhya (14.35%) and the Kalenjin (13.37%).

The Tanzanian Luo population was estimated at 1.1 million in 2001 and 1.9 million in 2010. They are part of a larger group of related Luo peoples who inhabit an area ranging from South Sudan, southwestern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Uganda, northeastern Congo-Kinshasa, southwestern Kenya and northern Tanzania.

Joluo people map

They speak the Luo language, also known as Dholuo, which belongs to the Western Nilotic branch of the Nilotic language family. Dholuo shares considerable lexical similarity with languages spoken by other Luo peoples.

The Luo are descended from migrants who moved into western Kenya from Uganda between the 15th and 20th centuries in four waves. These migrants were closely related to Luo peoples found in Uganda, especially the Acholi and Padhola people. As they moved into Kenya and Tanzania, they underwent significant genetic and cultural admixture as they encountered other communities that were long established in the region.

Traditionally, Luo people practiced a mixed economy of cattle pastoralism, seed farming and fishing supplemented by hunting. Today, the Luo comprise a significant fraction of East Africa's intellectual and skilled labour force in various professions. They also engage in various trades, such as tenant fishing, small-scale farming, and urban work.

The Luo are the originators of a number of popular music genres including benga and ohangla. Benga is one of Africa's most popular genres.



The present day homeland of Kenyan and Tanzanian Luo lies in the eastern Lake Victoria basin in the former Nyanza province in Western Kenya and the Mara region in northwestern Tanzania. This area falls within tropical latitudes and straddles the equator. This area also receives average rainfall averages. The average altitudes range between 3700 and 6000 feet above sea level.



The Luo, like other Kenyans, are typically conversant in at least three languages. The two national languages of Kenya are English and KiSwahili.

English, derived from the British colonial era before Kenya's independence in 1963, is the official language of government, international business, university instruction, banks, and commerce. It is taught throughout Kenya in primary and secondary schools. KiSwahili is the primary language of many coastal populations in Kenya and has spread from there throughout East Africa, including Luoland.

Today, the KiSwahili language serves as a language of trade and commerce in urban markets and rural towns.

Nowadays, KiSwahili is also taught in Kenyan primary and secondary schools. In addition, radio, television, and newspaper materials are available in these two languages.

Nevertheless, the indigenous language of the Luo, referred to as Dholuo, is for most people the language of preference in the home and in daily conversation.

Dholuo is taught in primary schools throughout Luoland. Most Luo young people are fluent in English, KiSwahili, and Dholuo.



Stories, legends, riddles, and proverbs are an important part of Luo culture. They are traditionally recited in the siwindhe, which is the home of a (widowed) grandmother.

Luo boys and girls gather there in the evenings to be taught the traditions of their culture. In the evenings, after people have returned from their gardens, they gather to tell and listen to stories.

In the siwindhe, however, grandmothers preside over storytelling and verbal games. Riddles take the form of competitive exchanges where winners are rewarded by "marrying" girls in a kind of mock (pretend) marriage situation.

Friendly arguments often erupt over interpretations of riddles. One riddle, for example, asks the question, "My house has no door," which is answered by "an egg." Another riddle is, "What is a lake with reeds all around?" The answer is, "an eye."

Clever answers are frequently given as alternatives to these standard answers. Proverbs are another part of the siwindhe discussions and are common in everyday use as well.

Some examples are, "The eye you have treated will look at you contemptuously," "A hare is small but gives birth to twins," and "A cowardly hyena lives for many years."

Morality tales teach all listeners the proper way to cope with life's circumstances. Such questions as, Why do people die?, What is the value of a deformed child?,

What qualities make an appropriate spouse?, What is friendship?, Who is responsible for a bad child?, Why do some people suffer?, and many others are the subject of folklore.

For example, the story known as "Opondo's Children" is about a man called Opondo whose wife continuously gave birth to monitor lizards instead of human babies. These lizard babies were thrown away to die because they were hideous.

Once, however, the parents decided to keep such a child and he grew to adolescence. As a teenager, this child loved to bathe alone in a river. Before swimming he would take off his monitor skin, and while swimming he mysteriously became a normal human being.

His skin was, in fact, only a superficial covering. One day a passerby saw him swimming and told his parents that he was a normal human being. Secretly, his parents went to watch him swim and discovered that he was in fact normal.

They destroyed his skin and thereafter, the boy became accepted and loved by all in his community. For this reason, Opondo and his wife deeply regretted that they had thrown away all of their many monitor children. This tale teaches that compassion should be displayed toward children with physical defects.

In an origin tale concerning death, it is told that humans and chameleons are responsible for this calamity. Were (God) wanted to put an end to death, which strikes "young and old, boys and girls, men and women, strangers and kinsmen, and the wise and the foolish." He requested that an offering be made to him of white fat from a goat.

A chameleon was assigned to carry the offering up to the sky where Were lives. Along the way, the fat became dirty and was angrily rejected by Were.

He declared that death would continue because of this insult. The chameleon became cursed by the Luo, and ever since it must always walk on all fours and take slow steps.



Christianity has had a major impact on Luo religious beliefs and practices. Today, religious communities draw on beliefs both from indigenous practices and from Christianity. The Anglican Church, known as the CPK, and the Roman Catholic Church are very significant among the Luo.

Many people, however, do not draw sharp distinctions between religious practices with European origins and those with African origins. Mainstream churches draw on a rich Luo musical and dance tradition.

For many Christians, the ancestors continue to play a significant role in their lives. In traditional belief, the ancestors reside in the sky or underground, from where they may be reincarnated in human or animal form.

Ceremonies are sometimes performed when naming a baby to determine if a particular spirit has been reincarnated. The spirits of ancestors are believed to communicate with the living in their dreams.

In the Luo religion, troublesome spirits may cause misfortunes if they are not remembered or respected. Luo refer to spirits by the term juok, or "shadow." The Luo refer to God by many names that indicate his power. For example, Were means "one certain to grant requests"; Nyasaye, "he who is begged"; Ruoth, "the king"; Jachwech, "the molder"; Wuon koth, "the rain-giver"; and Nyakalaga, "the one who flows everywhere." Prayers and requests are addressed to God by those in need of his assistance.

Christianity has fused most notably with traditional religious beliefs and customs in "independent Christian churches," which have attracted large followings.

For example, the Nomiya Luo Church, which started in 1912, was the first independent church in Kenya. The founder of this church, Johanwa Owalo, is believed to be a prophet similar to Jesus Christ and Muhammad. Owalo later teamed up with a Catholic priest and began teaching a new theology that rejected both the Pope and the doctrine of the trinity.


Rites of passage among the Luo people in Kenya

Traditionally, the names given to children often reflected the conditions of the mother's pregnancy or delivery (including, for example, the time or season).

Further, the Luos have traditionally practiced the removal of six lower teeth between the ages of twelve and sixteen. The practice is referred to as "Nago lak" ( Nago is the process, lak means teeth). It is from this ritual that the Luos are also called onagi meaning those who have their teeth removed. This practice has now fallen largely out of use.

People are discouraged from noting when someone is pregnant for fear that problems might result from jealous ancestors or neighbors. Older women and midwives assist the woman throughout her pregnancy and in childbirth.

The birth of twins, which is believed to be the result of evil spirits, is treated with special attention and requires taboos (prohibitions) on the part of the parents.

Only if neighbors engage in obscene dancing and use foul language will the burden of giving birth to twins be lifted. The Luo, however, did not adopt circumcision for men, as practiced in some neighboring Bantu groups.

Adolescence is a time of preparation for marriage and family life. Traditionally, girls obtained tattoos on their backs and had their ears pierced. Girls spent time in peer groups where conversation centered on boys and their personal attributes.

Sex education was in the hands of older women who gave advice in a communal sleeping hut used by teenage girls. Lovers sometimes made secret arrangements to meet near these huts, although premarital pregnancy was strictly forbidden.

Nowadays, neighborhood and boarding schools have replaced communal sleeping huts and elders, although sex education is not taught in these schools.

Since there are no initiation ceremonies in earlier stages of the life cycle, the funeral serves as the most important symbol for family and community identity. Burials must take place in Luoland, regardless of where a person may have lived during his or her adult years.



Social relations among the Luo are governed by rules of kinship, gender, and age. Descent is patrilineal (traced through the male line) to determine kinship.

Kin align themselves for purposes of exchange of goods, marriage, and political alliance. Names are received through the male line, and after marriage women reside in the homesteads of their husbands.

A married woman builds up alliances for her husband's family by maintaining strong relationships with her brothers and sisters who live at her birthplace or elsewhere.

It is expected that after marriage a woman will bear children for her husband's lineage. Bride wealth, given by her husband and his family, contributes to the woman's ability to maintain ties with her own family throughout her life.

By having children, a woman greatly enhances her power and influence within the lineage of her husband. As the children grow, they take special care of her interests.

Perhaps as many as 30 percent of Luo homesteads are polygynous (in which a man has more than one wife). This contributes to solidarity between a mother and her children, and between children born of the same mother.

Polygyny is commonly accepted by both men and women, provided traditional ideas and regulations are maintained. These include, for example, a special recognition for the first wife or "great wife," whose house and granary are located prominently at the back of the homestead opposite the main gate.

Subsequent wives have homes alternatively to her right and left in the order of their marriage. Sons are provided with homes adjacent to the main gate of the compound in the order of their birth. The husband maintains a homestead for himself near the center of the compound.

His own brothers, if they have not yet formed their own homesteads, reside on the edge of the compound near its center.

As Luo become wealthy in Luoland or elsewhere, it is common for them to build a large house for their mother. This is especially necessary if she is a "great wife," as it is considered improper for younger wives to have larger homes than wives more senior to themselves.

Visiting and being visited is the major source of pleasure for the Luo. The social principles regarding age, kinship, and gender impose a heavy schedule of ritual obligations on Luo, regardless of their place of residence.

Attendance at funerals is a significant obligation for all Luo. At funerals, Luo consume large amounts of meat, beer, and soft drinks and socialize with friends and relatives. Funerals last for four days for a male and three days for a female.

After the burial and expression of grief through speeches and viewing of the body, there is a period of feasting and celebration. After the funeral of a man, a rooster (which symbolizes masculinity to the Luo) is taken from his house and eaten by his relatives.

This signifies the end of his homestead. (When a new homestead is founded, a man is given a rooster from his father's home.)

Visitors for funerals gather from far and wide and are housed around the compound of the dead person, which is where he or she will be buried. This location and the duration of the ritual is an excellent opportunity for young people to meet and observe members of the opposite sex, or for elders to discuss marriage alliances that they might wish to promote. Dating may well follow initial meetings or deliberations at the funeral.


Living conditions

There are several types of rural houses. A common house is made of mud and wattle (woven twigs) walls with a thatched roof. Another style includes mud and wattle walls, with a roof made of corrugated metal.

A more elaborate, permanent house has brick walls and a roof covered with iron sheets or tiles. Bricks, iron sheets, and tiles are all items of prestige, and their ownership symbolizes success in farming, animal husbandry, or some modern occupation such as teaching, the ministry, or shopkeeping.

Homes vary in shape as well as size. Some homes of the old variety made of wattle and mud are circular. Those with more permanent materials tend to be rectangular.

A prosperous man who is the head of a large extended family may have several wives whose homes are situated by their rank within a large circular homestead.

Luo living in Kisumu, the regional capital, or in Nairobi have homes that vary according to their social status.

Some Luo are numbered among the elite Kenyans whose homes are elaborate, with facilities for automobiles, sleeping accommodations for visiting relatives, and servants' quarters.

Other less fortunate Luo live in Nairobi's crowded slums where homes are quite temporary, made of wattle and mud and short-lived materials such as tin, paper, and plastic.

Malaria is a major killer in Luoland. Children's diseases, such as kwashiorkor (a form of protein malnutrition), are a threat in those families without access to a balanced diet or knowledge about nutrition and health standards.

In villages, there is an emphasis on preventive medicine; most rural communities have clinics with medical workers who emphasize sanitation, prenatal care, nutrition, and other practices known to reduce the risk of disease.



A popular Luo meal includes fish (rech) especially tilapia (ngege) and omena, usually accompanied with ugali (called kuon in Dholuo) and traditional vegetables like osuga and apoth. Many of the vegetables eaten by the Luo were shared after years of association with their Bantu neighbours, the Abaluhya and the Abagusii. Traditional Luo diet consisted of kuon made of sorghum or millet accompanied by fish, meat, or vegetable stews.


Family life

Marriage was traditionally considered to be the most significant event in the lives of both men and women. It was thought inappropriate for anyone to remain unmarried. Large families ensured adequate numbers of workers. The system of polygyny (multiple wives) guaranteed that all people married.

The significance of bride wealth is increasing, even among educated Luo. Members of the groom's family initiate a process of negotiation with the bride's family that may unfold over many years.

Negotiations can be intense, and for this reason a "go-between," who is neutral to the interests of each family, is used. Luo believe that divorce cannot occur after bride wealth has been exchanged and children are born.

Even if separation happens, the couple is still ideally considered to be married. Failure to have children, however, is thought to be the fault of the bride and, for this, she will be divorced or replaced by another wife. Cattle are the primary item given in bride wealth.

In determining the value of a prospective bride, her family takes into account her health, appearance, and, nowadays, her level of formal education. Failure of men to raise a high bride wealth prompts many of them to propose elopement, a practice that is on the rise today.

Young people in Kenya still tend to marry within their own ethnic groups. Tribal elders frequently caution against "intertribal marriages."

The more distant the ethnic group in space and customs from the Luo, the greater the cautionary warnings. For this reason, Luo intertribal marriage is most likely to occur with members from neighboring Baluya societies, which are Bantu. However, most Luo marry within their own ethnic group.



Traditionally, the Luo wore minimal clothing. Animal hides were used to cover private parts, but there was no stigma (shame) associated with nudity. Nowadays, clothing styles are largely Western in origin. They vary according to a person's social class and lifestyle preference.

It is not uncommon to see people in remote rural areas fashionably dressed according to some of the latest tastes.

Luo living in Nairobi tend to wear clothing that is cosmopolitan by rural standards and similar to the clothing worn in New York or Paris.

In rural areas, most people dress according to their work routines. For example, women wear loose-fitting dresses made of solid or printed cotton fabric while farming or attending market. Wearing sandals or going barefoot are typical while working.

Men wear jeans as work pants while farming. During the rainy season, the roads can become very muddy; consequently, boots and umbrellas are especially prized by both men and women.

These days, there is a strong market in second-hand clothing, making slacks, dresses, coats, undergarments, sweaters, shoes, handbags, belts, and other items available to even poorer families.

Luo enjoy dressing up for funerals and weddings and are considered throughout Kenya to be very fashionable.


Traditional system of government

Traditionally, the Luo people were a patriarchal society with a decentralized government system. The family was headed by the father or the first wife mikayi or son in the absence of the father. Many families came together through a traced relations by blood to form a clan, anyuola, which mostly brought together the heads of different families together as people of the same descent, jokang'ato. Many clans came together to form a village called gwengwhich was headed by a village elder titled dodo or jaduong' gweng' who ruled with the assistance of elders who were traditionally men of status gained through commerce, wealth, war, or eloquence. Many villages came together to form a sub-tribe which was headed by a hereditary chieftaincy by the eldest son Ruoth. The Luo government structure was stronger at the sub-tribe level under Ruoth who had a council of elders, galamoro mar jodongo or jodong gweng', from all the villages in their territory. The Luos organized their defense and security at the sub-tribe level which was headed by a commander, Osumba Mrwayi, who was part of the council of elders. The council also had a spokesperson who talked on behalf of the council in official matters in village market meetings, religious, and cultural ceremonies that Ruoth presided over. Sub-tribe relations with each other was ad-hoc as there was no single ruler of the Luo people. Sub-tribes came together during calamities, war, and natural disasters like drought, famines, and floods to help each other. Sumo, the act of sharing produce with people who were struck by famine was a common tradition with Kisumo being one of the renowned marketplaces where those who were struck by famine never missed the generosity of their Luo counterparts. The concept of a Luo ruler ker was coined by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga during the formation of the Luo Union in 1947 that was aimed at uniting all people of Luo descent in East Africa. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was the first Luo Ker. As part of distinguishing a tribal leader from a national leader, part of the conditions was that a Luo Ker would not go into national politics and when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga went into national politics in 1957, he had to quit being a Ker.

In recent years, the Luo Ker seat has been claimed by different factions of Luo council of elders that started with the appointment of Willis Opiyo Otondi by Raila Odinga in 2010 to replace Ker Riaga Ogalo. Traditionally, the Ker was elected by a Council of Elders and was not appointed as it happened with Opondo Otondi, and a Luo Ker could only leave office under two conditions, resignation or death. Ker Riaga Ogalo argued that he had not resigned nor died to warrant the appointment of another Ker while Opiyo Otondi argued that he was the duly elected Ker of the Luo people. Ker Riaga Ogalo represented Raila in numerous political forums and helped build Raila Odinga's political career contrary to the requirements of the council during the days they were in good talking terms.

Ker Riaga Ogalo is credited for having progressive ideas of all modern Luo Kers by championing for circumcision of the Luo men to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Circumcision was alien to the Luo tradition but his leadership made many hearts to accept the new changes. Ker Riaga Ogalo also served as the Vice-Chairman of the National Council of Elders. During the last years of his reign, he argued that Raila was deterring the Luo People to grow democratically and economically with his style of polictics. Ker Riaga Ogalo died in 2015 after a kidney infection at the Kenyatta National Hospital. The Council's wrangles continued after his demise with today Willis Opiyo Otondi still claiming to be the legitimate ker rivalled by Ker Nyandiko Ong'adi who was elected by the Luo Council of Elders in 2015 to replace ker Riaga Ogalo. The attempt to centralize the Luo people under one authority have not been easy given their history with a decentralized government structure.


Marriage customs

Historically, couples were introduced to each other by matchmakers, but this is not common now. Like many other communities in Kenya, marriage practices among the Luo have been changing and some people are moving away from the traditional way of doing things.

The Luo successfully expanded their culture through intermarriage with other groups in the region, and many Luo today continue to marry outside the Luo community. This mainly acceptable since it is an exogamous community with restrictions at clan level both paternaly and maternally. The traditional marriage ceremony takes place in two parts, both involving the payment of a bride price by the groom. The first ceremony, the Ayie, involves a payment of money to the mother of the bride; the second stage involves giving cattle to her father. Often these two steps are carried out at the same time, and, as many modern Luos are Christians, a church ceremony often follows.



Traditionally, music was the most widely practiced art in the Luo community. At any time of day or night, music would be made. Music was not played for its own sake. Music was functional, being used for ceremonial, religious, political, or incidental purposes. Music was performed during funerals (Tero buru), to praise the departed, to console the bereaved, to keep people awake at night, and to express pain and agony. It was also used during cleansing and chasing away of spirits. Music was also played during ceremonies like beer parties (Dudu, ohangla dance), welcoming back the warriors from a war, during a wrestling match (Olengo), during courtship, etc. Work songs also existed. These were performed both during communal work like building, weeding, etc. and individual work like pounding of cereals, or winnowing. Music was also used for ritual purposes like chasing away evil spirits (nyawawa), who visit the village at night, in rain making, and during divination and healing.

The Luo music was shaped by the total way of life, lifestyles, and life patterns of individuals of this community. Because of that, the music had characteristics which distinguished it from that of other communities. This can be seen, heard, and felt in their melodies, rhythms, mode of presentation and dancing styles, movements, and formations.

The melodies in Luo music were lyrical, with a lot of vocal ornamentations. These ornaments came out clearly, especially when the music carried an important message. Their rhythms were characterized by a lot of syncopation and acrusic beginning. These songs were usually presented in solo-response style, although some were solo performances. The most common forms of solo performances were chants. These chants were recitatives with irregular rhythms and phrases, which carried serious messages. Most of the Luo dances were introduced by these chants. One example is the dudu dance.

Another unique characteristic in the Luo music is the introduction of yet another chant at the middle of a musical performance. The singing stops, the pitch of the musical instruments go down and the dance becomes less vigorous as an individual takes up the performance is self-praise. This is referred to as Pakruok. There was also a unique kind of ululation, Sigalagala, that marked the climax of the musical performance. Sigalagala was mainly done by women.

The dance styles in the Luo folk music were elegant and graceful. They involved either the movement of one leg in the opposite direction with the waist in step with the syncopated beats of the music or the shaking of the shoulders vigorously, usually to the tune of the nyatiti, an eight-stringed instrument.

Adamson (1967) commented that Luos clad in their traditional costumes and ornaments deserve their reputation as the most picturesque people in Kenya. During most of their performances, the Luo wore costumes and decorated themselves not only to appear beautiful, but also to enhance their movements. These costumes included sisal skirts (owalo), beads (Ombulu / tigo) worn around the neck and waist, and red or white clay worn by the ladies. The men's costumes included kuodi or chieno, a skin worn from the shoulders or from the waist respectively to cover their nakedness, Ligisa, the headgear, shield and spear, reed hats, and clubs, among others. All these costumes and ornaments were made from locally available materials.

The Luo were also rich in musical instruments which ranged from percussion (drums, clappers, metal rings, ongeng'o or gara, shakers), strings (e.g., nyatiti, a type of lyre; orutu, a type of fiddle), wind (tung (instrument)|tung' a horn,Asili, a flute, A bu-!, to a specific type of trumpet).

Currently the Luo are associated with the benga style of music. It is a lively style in which songs in Dholuo, Swahili, or English are sung to a lively guitar riff. It originated in the 1950s with Luo musicians like George Ramogi and Ochieng' Kabaselle trying to adapt their traditional dance rhythms to western instruments. The guitar (acoustic, later electric) replaced the nyatiti as the string instrument. Benga has become so popular that it is played by musicians of all ethnicities like mugithi among the Kikuyu, and it is no longer considered a purely Luo style. It has become Kenya's characteristic pop sound.


Kinship, family, and inheritance

Ocholla Ayayo writes in "Traditional Ideology and Ethics among the southern Luo":

"When the time of the inheritance comes the ideology of seniority is respected: the elder son receives the largest share, followed in the order of seniority. If it is the land to be divided, for instance, the land of the old grandfather's homestead, the senior son gets the middle piece, the second the land to the right hand side of the homestead, and the third son takes the land on the left hand side. After the father's death the senior son takes over the responsibilities of leadership. These groups when considered in terms of genealogy, are people of the same grandfather, and are known in Dholuo as Jokakwaro. They share sacrifices under the leadership of the senior brother. If the brother is dead the next brother in seniority takes the leadership of senior brother. The responsibility and prestige position of leadership is that it puts one into the primary position in harvesting, cultivation, as well as in eating specified parts of the animal killed, usually the best parts. It is the senior brother, who is leading in the group, who can first own the fishing boat. Since it is he who will be communicating with the ancestors of their father or grandfather, it is he who will conduct or lead the sacrifices of religiousity of the boat, as we have noted earlier. [...] The system of the allocation of land by the father while he is still alive is important since it will coincide with the system of inheritance of land. The principle of the division of the land in monogamous families is rather simple and straightforward. [...] The senior son takes the centre portion of all the land of the homestead up to and beyond the gate or to the buffer zone; the second son then has the remainder of the land to divide with the other brothers. If the land is divided among the elder sons after they are married, and take to live in their lands, it often happens that a youngest son remains in the village of the father to care for him in his old age. His inheritance is the last property, called Mondo and the remaining gardens of his mother. [...] In the case of a polygamous village, the land is divided along the same lines, except that within the village, the sons claim the area contiguous to the houses of their mother. Each wife and her children are regarded as if the group constituted was the son of a single woman.By that I mean the children of the senior wife, Mikayi, are given that portion of the total area which could have been given to the senior son in a monogamous family. The sons of Nyachira, the second wife, and the sons of Reru, the third wife, lay claim to those portions which would have fallen to the second and third sons of Mikayi in a monogamous village".

Paul Hebinck and Nelson Mango explain in detail the family and inheritance system of the Luo in their article "Land and embedded rights: An analysis of land conflicts in Luoland, Western Kenya." Parker MacDonald Shipton also writes extensively about kinship, family and inheritance among the Luo in his book "Mortgaging the Ancestors: Ideologies of Attachment in Africa":

"Outside the homestead enclosure, or (where there is no more enclosure) beyond and before its houses, Luo people have favored a layout of fields that in some ways reflects placements of houses within. The following pattern, as described in Gordon Wilson's work from the 1950s, is still discernable in our times—not just in informants’ sketches of their ideals, but also in the allocations of real lands where space has allowed following suit. If there is more than one son in a monogamous homestead, the eldest takes land in front of or to the right of the entrance, and the second son takes land on the left. The third receives land to the right and center again, but farther from the father's homestead. The fourth son, if there is one, goes to the left but farther from the paternal homestead than the second. Further sons alternate right and left. While elder sons might thus receive larger shares than the younger ones, the youngest takes over the personal garden (mondo) kept by the father for his own use—as if as a consolation prize".