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LUHYA CULTURE

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How the Luhya communicated

In the old days there were no proper roads and no communications technology as we know them today. It was difficult to send news from one place to another distant place. When the Luhya wanted to send a message about a well-understood happening, they used drums or horns. If there was a plan to start a great tribal festival, they used drums and horns to announce it. If a great person died, they used them too. They also used them at weddings, at the crowning of a new chief, the approach of an enemy, and the declaration of war, or its end.

Luhya music  instrument
Hornblower: Mzee Isaka Mukhwana entertaining people at Ebwando in Bunyore with his oluika (horn). In the past people would pass important messages such as death by blowing the horn. Usually, each village or clan had one or more people designated as hornblowers
War, death cry

In cases of war or the approach of enemies, as soon as the first drums and horns were heard, they were repeated in every olukongo (village), and thus the message was relayed on over large swathes of the Luhya territory. Other forms of communication included weeping aloud, as in the case of a funeral, or shouting, as in the case of a fleeing thief.. People also spread news through greetings by asking, ‘Akasungwa?’ At other times a messenger could be sent to deliver special news verbally

Danger danger danger

Some rural Luhya villages communicate by beating metallic household utensils such sufurias ( pots), cups, bowls, plates and trays to make as much noise as possible. It often starts from one household and quickly spreads to neighbouring villages. Usually this type of communication is used to alert villagers of impending danger such as a wild animal on the loose.

Taking communication to new heights: Kenya's Jua Kali (informal sector) is known for its creativity and with the widespread of cell phones, it was just a matter of time before some genius came up with earth shattering innovation. Who needs phone holder or hands free when you can have the phone adorn your ears like this chap in the photo (right).

Made in INGO
Made in Kenya: Who needs expensive hands-free or bluetooth?
Ikolomani MP, Dr Bonny Khalwale
Ikolomani MP, Bonny Khalwale is mobile.
How the Luhya communicate today

The invention of the cell phone technology has been a boon to the Luhya community. Where in the past they sent messengers to deliver news to relatives, nowadays news travels so fast through the mobile phone network either by voice or short messaging service (sms). The cell phone is supplemented by the electronic mail (Email) which is now widely used by Luhya people to communicate with each other especially within urban areas although villages are slowly catching up.

Ayisi Makatiani
Ayisi Makatiani, the founder of Africaonline, the largest Internet Service Provider in Africa communicating to his tribesmen, country and continent through Electronic mail (Email). Email is now widely used in Luhya land as a means of communication.

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