Introduction / History
The Bukusu are a Bantu people who are part of the larger Luhya ethnic group. Their main source of income is subsistence farming, but cattle and other domestic animals also play an important role. Sugar cane and coffee are two of their most important agricultural crops. The area usually receives sufficient rain to sustain the population.
As is the case in most Kenyan communities, the traditional culture is under heavy pressure. Development and modernization have a strong impact on most parts of traditional life. However, quite a number of traditional customs have been maintained, some with adaptation. For instance, initiation rites still take place among virtually all sections of the population, but the timing has been adapted to coincide with school vacations, so that they do not interfere with the child's education.
Traditionally there was resistance against modern influence among the Bukusu. This was most vividly expressed in the Dini ya Msambwa movement, led by Elijah Masinde. This movement is a mixture of traditional religion with some Christian elements. It manifested itself clearly as a protesting movement against colonial authorities. Its leader was detained several times, mainly in relation to the attacks carried out on administrative institutions. A ban was reinstated even after independence, because of an anti-establishment attitude in word and deed. As for religion, sacrifice was the basic ritual for the movement, just as for the traditional religion. Ancestor worship also played an important role. Despite Masinde's death several years ago, the movement still commands some following.
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