The Position of Women in the Luo Societies: Case Study of Jok'Onyango A.D. 1750-1920
Ayot, Theodora Olunga O.
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This thesis is a detailed study of the position and role of women in the political, economic and social life as well as decision-making processes. The study is based on four communities which were established by the Luo as they expanded their settlements into South Nyanza in the period between A.D. 1750 and 1920. The first Luo groups in the present-day South Nyanza District were Joka- Jok who arrived in the area from A.D. 1688 onwards, having crossed over the lake at the Uyoma peninsula. They established settlements in Kanyamwa, Kadem, Karungu and Karachuonyo. In the subsequent years these Luo groups have been referred to as Joka-Chwanya or Jok'Onyango. Chwanya is given in their tradition as one of the sons of Jok and that he was the son of Onyango Rabala. This is why these people are referred to as Joka-Chwanya or Jok'Onyango. The study is divided into three parts, comprising ten chapters. Part one centres on the founding of the society. It is composed of two chapters. Chapter one deals with identification of the area under study, the period chosen for the study and why that period was chosen. It contains the statement of the problem, the objective of the study and justification of the study. Also examined in this Chapter are the various modes of analysis in historical development. Methods of historical research used during the field work are fully explained as well as secondary sources and archival materials consulted. Sample questions used during the field work are also included. (See appendix I). Chapter Two gives a general geographical context of the study in terms of origin and expansion of Jok'Onyango. Part Two concentrates on the socio-cultural activities and economic set up of Jok'Onyango. It is composed of four chapters. Chapter Three discusses the importance of women in the Luo society and the role of matrilineal dominance in a society that was basically patrilineal in nature. It distinguishes patrilineal from patriarchal system. Chapter Four examines the role of women in the evolution and emergence of some of the Jok'Onyango communities where both women and men are eponymous founders especially at the clan level. Chapter Five addresses itself to the role of women in cultural history especially in the dissemination of knowledge to the youth in the society. Chapter Six concerns the historical analysis of the contribution of Luo women in subsistence production, the right to land use and the question of inheritance. Part Three deals with women and the world of politics. Chapter Seven surveys the nature of political institutions in the Luo society with a view to determine factors which contributed or hindered the participation of women in politics and decision-making processes. Chapter Eight deals specifically with the participation of women in political activities and military warfare, while Chapter Nine discusses the imposition of alien rule in Kenya and its impact on the women in the Luo societies and how the women responded to these outside forces.