A Luo Affair: When is the Process of Having a New KER Starting?

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When is the process of having a new KER starting?

What can we say Ker Otondi achieved for the Luo?

What are we looking for in the next KER?

I have gone through numerous online publications to find much on Ker Willis Otondi and there’s very little about him. There are more news articles and youtube videos about his death and funeral than when he lived.

For a person who occupied such an important position of authority and leadership among the Luo, it is sad that so little can be found of Ker Otondi.

And this isn’t hard to explain.

The Luo Council of Elders as a cultural institution has become, sadly, irrelevant in the collective lives of Luos.

What’s the state of Luo religious thought, Luo law, Luo economics, Luo science, Luo medicine, Luo music, Luo art, and Luo literature?

What, one may ask, should constitute a Luo worldview?

What are Luo fears and Luo hopes? Who are we? Where are we? What are we pursuing as a collective? Are we succeeding? Are we failing? Why?

Luo society today lacks unifying cultural practices, much of which has been taken up and reformed by the Christian church. Luo lives are now organized more around the church and the state than around our customs and norms. Luo communitarianism is dead.

One of the biggest failures of the Luo Council of Elders is their inability to shape Luo politics.

Luo Council of Elders has failed to provide political direction to the community, delegating that role to the political class and more specifically, Raila Odinga, with dire consequences.

How should we relate with governments elected without our input? What should make us oppose or support such regimes? To what extent should we fight? Must we always fight? Should these questions be delegated entirely to the Luo political class?

Luo Council of Elders has failed to update the community on what constitutes being a Luo. What social norms should we keep, and what should we discard? Take for instance land use. Aren’t some cultural practices leading us to a future of landlessness?

Luo Council of Elders has failed to innovate. As Luo society modernizes itself, the lack of direction as to where we end up as a people is tragic.


The next Luo Ker must truly go beyond the conservatism of the late Ker Willis Otondi and bring about a new cultural renaissance.

There is, of course, the question of resourcing. The institution of the Luo Council of Elders should be well-resourced. The Ker and the elders so chosen to sit in the Council should receive our full support. Many of us are willing to donate to the Council, but they must get organized. Perhaps, they need a secretariat.

I conclude by observing that the loud silence on the coronation of our next Ker should worry all of us. It is time to install the next Ker. It is time!

Dikembe Disembe is a Political Researcher and Writer.

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