Marriage Culture Among the Abagusii in the Pre-Colonial Period

  • Nahashon Orera Kenyatta University
  • Pius Kakai Kenyatta University
  • Edwin Gimode Kenyatta University
Keywords: Marriage Culture, Patriarchy, Bridewealth
Share Article:


This paper discusses marriage institution among the Abagusii in the pre-colonial period under the following themes: History of migration and settlement of Abagusii, the institution of marriage among the Abagusii in the pre-colonial period, Traditional socio-religious aspects of Gusii marriage, marriage customs among married Gusii men and women in the pre-colonial period, nature of Abagusii households up to 1895, the role of initiation in marriage customs, bridewealth and its place in marriage, the role of patriarchy in marriage, polygamy in marriage. This sequence will help us trace the changes in marriage customs and their implications in the marriage of the Abagusii in the colonial period. This section was guided by social constructivism theory


Download data is not yet available.


Akama, J. S. (2017). The Gusii of Kenya: Social, economic, cultural, political & judicial perspectives. Nairobi

Akama, J. S., & Maxon, R. M., (2006). Ethnography of the Gusii of western Kenya. A vanishing cultural heritage. Lewington. Mellen press

Gwako, E. L. M. (1995). Continuity and Change in the Practice of Clitoridectomy in Kenya: A Case-study of the Abagusii. Journal of Modern African Studies, 333-337.

Hakansson, N. T. (1994). The detachability of women: Gender and kinship in processes of socioeconomic change among the Gusii of Kenya. American ethnologist, 21(3), 516-538.

Hakansson, T. (1988). Bridewealth women and land: Social change among the Gusii.

Hillman, B. W., & Perry, T. (1975). The parent-teacher education centre: Evaluation of a program for improving family relations. American Journal of Family Therapy, 3(1), 11-16.

KNA/SK/3/3/2 Kenya National Archives sources on traditional marriage transactions among the Gusii of South Kavirondo 1911

Levine, R. A. (1966). Sex roles and economic change in Africa. Ethnology, 5(2), 186-193.

Levine, S., & Levine, R.A. (1979). Mothers and wives: Gusii Women of East Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago press

LeVine, S., & Pfeifer, G. (1982). Separation and individuation in an African society: the developmental tasks of the Gusii married woman. Psychiatry, 45(1), 61-75.

Levine, S.A, and Levine, B.B (1956). Nyansongo: A Gusii community in Kenya. New York: Oxford University Press

Maxon, R. M. (1989). Conflict and accommodation in western Kenya: the Gusii and the British, 1907-1963. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press.

Mayer, P. (1949). The lineage principle in Gusii society (Vol. 24). International African Institute.

Mayer, P. (1950). Privileged obstruction of marriage rites among the Gusii. Africa, 113-125.

Mayer, P. (1953). Gusii initiation ceremonies. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 83(1), 9-36.

Misati, Akuma, J. (2015). Socio-cultural and family change in Africa: Implications for adolescent socialization in Kisii county, south-western Kenya. Les cahiers D'afrique De L'est/the East African review ,80-98

Moraa. A (2021) Oral interview on bridewealth Payments and marriage transactions among the Abagusii done on December 25 2021

Motieri, P. (2021) Oral Interview on Bridewealth payments and marriage transactions among the Abagusii done on December 26 2021

Mwembi, N. (2021) Oral interview on bridewealth payments and marriage transactions among the Abagusii in the pre-colonial period done on December 28 2021

Nyamache, E. K., & Asatsa, S. (2022). The Role Of African Traditional Marriage Rites On Marital Stability: A Case Of The Abagusii People, KENYA. Journal of African Studies and Sustainable Development, 5(3).

Nyamao, A. (2021) Oral Interview on female initiation and other circumcision rituals among the Abagusii during the Pre-colonial period done on December 25 2021

Nyangaresi, D. (2021) Oral Interview on Abagusii marriage Culture during the pre-colonial period done on December 26 2021

Nyasani, J. M. (1984). The British massacre of the Gusii freedom defenders.

Ochieng W.R (1974). A pre-colonial History of Gusii of Western Kenya C.A.D 1500 -1914. Nairobi: EALB

Okebiro, G. (2017). Polygamous Family and Social Justice: A Case Study of the Abagusii Tribe in South Western Kenya. Available at SSRN 2984711.

Okiya, D. O. (2016). The Centrality of Marriage in African Religio-culture with reference to the Maasai of Kajiado County, Kenya. A PhD Thesis Kenyatta University.

Omariba, D. (2021) Oral Interview on bridewealth limits in Abagusii marriage done on December 29 2021

Omeke, N. (2021) Oral Interview on Marriage rituals among the Abagusii in the pre-colonial period done on December 24 2021

Orera, N. (2023). Colonial Legacies and Their Implication to Marriage Relations among the Gusii of Kenya (1895-1960). East African Journal of Traditions, Culture and Religion, 6(1), 8-15.

Otiso, J. (2021) Oral Interview on Gusii Marital Ceremonies during the pre-colonial period done on December 26 2021

Parkin, D., & Nyamwaya, D. (Eds.). (1989). Transformations of African marriage (Vol. 3). Manchester University Press.

Shaddle, B. L. (2003). Bridewealth and female consent: Marriage disputes in African courts, Gusiiland, Kenya. Journal of African History, 241-262.

Shaddle, B. L. (2006). Girl cases. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Silberschmidt, M. (1999). “Women forget that men are the masters”: gender antagonism and socio-economic change in Kisii District, Kenya. Nordic Africa Institute.

Were, G. S., & Nyamwaya, D. (Eds.). (1986). Kisii District Socio-Cultural Profile. Kenya. Ministry of Planning and National Development; University of Nairobi. Institute of African Studies.

20 October, 2023
How to Cite
Orera, N., Kakai, P., & Gimode, E. (2023). Marriage Culture Among the Abagusii in the Pre-Colonial Period. East African Journal of Traditions, Culture and Religion, 6(1), 132-146.