The Luo migration


  • The Luo are also referred to as the River-lake nilotes.
  • They originated from Bahr el- Ghazel in southern Sudan.
  • They are known as River –Lake Nilotes because they settled along Rivers and lakes.
  • Their migration took place between 1350 – 1500 A.D.
  • They entered East Africa through the Northern part of Uganda following the Albert Nile.
  • They included tribes like Alur, Langi, Acholi, Japadhola and Ja-luo of Western Kenya.

Causes of the Luo migration

  • Search for water and pasture, the Luo migrated from their cradle land because they lacked enough water sources and pasture for their animals.
  • Population pressure: Their cradle land was over crowded and due to over grazing of their animals in Bahr-el-Ghazel.
  • Internal conflicts: Some Luo migrated to E.A because they were constantly included in civil wars over land and animals.
  • External-conflicts: There was a lot of pressure from their neighbors especially the Galla from Ethiopia which forced the Luo to migrate into E. Africa.
  • The hostile climate of the southern Sudan also led to the Luo migration into E. Africa. i.e. prolonged drought.
  • The Luo also had the desire to export their political culture and organization. E.g. some of them wanted to exercise their political rights.
  • Band Wagon effect: i.e. some of the Luo migrants simply migrated as a result of seeing their relatives moving.
  • Love for adventure: Some Luo migrants especially the youth were interested in knowing what was happening in other areas.
  • Natural calamities: e.g. drought and famine also led to Luo migration into E. Africa.
  • The southward movement of the Sahara desert also led to the Luo migration into E. Africa.
  • Some historians attribute the Luo migration to over flooding since they lived along the banks of R Nile.
  • Misfortunes and epidemics e.g. sleeping sickness and Nagana led to the Luo migration into E. Africa.
  • The Luo also migrated to look for fertile areas that could support agriculture since some of them were farmers.
  • The Natural aggressive tendencies of the Luo also led to their migration into E.A so as to conquer the weak people.
  • The need to settle around water bodies and rivers since they did some fishing also forced them to move.