Book Review: The Luo Girl From Infancy to Marriage by Simeon H. Ominde

I thought I should write something about this old book.

First of all, Ominde’s book has a self-explanatory title, it brushes on what a girl born into a traditional Luo homestead goes through till she becomes a married woman.

Secondly, it was a work of thesis that he wrote at the University to pass his exams. And the Kenya Literature Bureau deemed it fit to publish it for posterity. It was first published before independence in 1955.

When I began reading this book on the 19th of March 2029, it was actually boring; that’s why I put it away for some many months to concentrate on other books. It is a very old book, but being a student of sociology, it is great that I finished it yesterday 11th December 2029 at 9:42 pm.

There are some other better books written about the history and customs of Luo people. However, in this book, I found some introductions.

I learnt about how girls were viewed in the traditional Luo society, how young people learnt about sex, and how marriage, pregnancy, childbirth were viewed by my ancestors.

Let’s just say, life was tough for the unmarried, childless and twins.

Prolonged dating was discouraged, unmarried ladies, because of premarital pregnancy or others, were given away to old men, possibly those that had other wives, and childless households were disbanded. Twins were a taboo, a bad omen.

Let me expound on childlessness. Of course, as in many African societies, the woman was the one blamed, but if a second wife was brought and the man failed to make her pregnant, then the man was told to seek services of the woman’s brother in law or disband the family. Most chose the former.

Rich women

In the traditional setting, and with the garden economy (not money economy), women who tilled their land well became rich. It was the work of the hands of women to feed men. This was especially pronounced in a polygamous setting.

Money economy changed all this as then, it became the work of the males to feed women. Not that men didn’t contribute in the past. Men used to heard or take care of livestock.

This book is also a quick comparison between the emerging influence of Christianity on the Luo traditional ways as seen that time.

On this, Ominde puts some points side by side. The book got interesting in the middle pages and I recommend for people wanting a quick take-through on the aforementioned.

Nonetheless, as for true and in-depth Luo history, one has to read many books especially those written by Prof. Bethel Ogot.