African Encyclomedia


The name Abaluyia refers to a large ethnic and linguistic group that lives in Kenya and parts of Uganda. When speaking of one person, the Abaluyia use the word Omuluyia, and when referring to their language, they use the word Luluyia. Seventeen subnations exist among the Abaluyia. They are Abakhayo, Bukusu, Vugusu, Banyala, Abasonga, Abanyore, Abatsotso, Idakho, Isukha, Abakabras, Kisa, Logoli, Marachi, Marama, Samia, Tachhoni, and Wanga.

Although the Uganda speakers of Luluyia do not use the term Abaluyia, a term the elders in Kenya accepted and adopted from 1930 to 1960, the Ugandan Luluyia speakers recognize the Kenyan speakers as related to them. They share a similar culture with many of the same myths, rituals, and ceremonies. Most of the Luluyia speakers share in the story told by the Vugusu about the creation of the world. According to these speakers of the language, the world was created when the almighty Wele Xakaba, the Supreme Being, made his own dwelling in heaven; to prevent it from falling out of the sky, he supported it with many pillars just as the builders of a house support the roof with many pillars.

When Wele Xakaba had completed the creation of heaven, he made the moon, sun, and clouds and laced the heavens with them. Then Wele Xakaba created a large rooster and placed the rooster in heaven. This huge red rooster is the source of lightning and thunder. It lives among the clouds, and when it moves its wings up and down lightning flashes; when it crows, thunder is heard on the earth. The creation of the rooster is followed by the creation of the stars, rain, rainbows, regular air, and very cold air. It took Wele Xakaba just 2 whole days to make these creations. But there was a problem: “For whom would the sun shine?” This led to the creation of human beings.

The first man was called by the name of Mwambu. However, because Wele Xakaba had created this man so that he had the ability to talk and see, there needed to be someone with whom he could talk. Therefore, the first woman, Sela, was created to be Mwambu’s mate. Then Wele Xakaba created plants, oceans, lakes, rivers, plants, and animals.

Cattle were also created by Wele Xakaba. Soon Mwambu and Sela had two children, a son, Lilambo, and a daughter, Nasio. In 6 days, Wele Xakaba had completed the work of creation.

On the seventh day, God rested because it was a bad day, probably the source for the negative relationship and taboos the Abaluyia have with the number 7.

Written by: Molefi Kete Asante

See also Luo

Further Readings

Parrinder, G. (1967). African Mythology. London: Paul Hamlyn.

Scheub, H. (2000). A Dictionary of African Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wagner, G. (1965). The Abaluyia of Kavirondo (Kenya). In Daryll Forde (Ed.), African Worlds (pp. 37–38). New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

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