The Bukusus are a prominent sub-tribe within the Luhya community, and they have unique cultural practices that distinguish them from other tribes.
These customs shape their way of life and are passed down through generations, playing a significant role in their social, religious, and familial interactions.
The Bukusu community predominantly inhabits the Western region of Bungoma County, while some members also reside in Trans Nzoia County.
The following practices still exist among the Bukusu community in Kenya.
The Bukusu’s uphold thorough marriage traditions, where the potential partner is carefully vetted before the approval for marriage is granted.
For instance, when a man desires to marry, an investigation is conducted to learn about the background of the prospective spouse.
If there are any doubts or suspicions, such as the belief that the partner’s family practices witchcraft, the relationship may be terminated.
Additionally, the Bukusu’s place great importance on tracing their lineage, and it is not permissible to marry within one’s own clan.
This practice ensures that marriages occur between individuals from different clans, maintaining diversity and strengthening familial ties within the community.
In the Bukusu community, there is a cultural norm where a wife is not expected to shake hands with her husband’s father, as it is considered taboo.
Instead, it is customary for the wife to simply wave at her father-in-law as a sign of respect and acknowledgement.
This practice differs from other tribes where handshakes may be a common form of greeting and interaction.
Birth & circumcision among Bukusus
In the Bukusu community, the act of shaving a newborn baby holds great significance, and it is customary for the baby to be taken to the countryside, typically to the grandmother’s home, for the shaving ceremony.
This means that if a woman marries a Bukusu man, she would visit his family’s home after giving birth, specifically when the baby needs to undergo its first shaving.
However, depending on the circumstances, it is also possible for the grandmother to visit her son’s home to perform the shaving ceremony there instead.
In the Bukusu community, when a boy reaches the age of circumcision, many still adhere to traditional practices, and the rite of passage takes place at home.
The circumcision procedure is typically performed using a knife, and the entire community often gathers to witness the ceremony. The circumcision itself usually takes place in the morning hours.
Once the individual has healed from the circumcision, they are granted their own house, known as a ‘Simba’.
This signifies their transition from childhood to adulthood and symbolizes their graduation into a new stage of life.
Bukusu’s perception of death
In the Bukusu community, when a person dies, their body must lie in their own house for at least one night before being buried.
The manner of burial is typically determined by the circumstances of the person’s death. Those who have died by suicide are usually buried at night, and their belongings are burned.
Burning their belongings symbolizes the act of destroying the evil spirit that caused the death, ensuring that it perishes and accompanies the deceased.
In the Bukusu community, it is customary for close relatives to gather and divide the belongings of the deceased, including their clothes, 40 days after the burial. This practice applies specifically when a person has passed away due to natural causes.
While some of these practices are not strictly followed, they may still apply depending on the beliefs of the person you marry and their family’s traditions.