Sons are banned from planting until the sexual ritual is fulfilled
Before the planting season, married Luos head to the village for a very important ritual. Golo kodhi which loosely translates to ‘removing seeds’ is a cultural practice that dictates what couples who have homesteads should do the night after planting.
Normally, planting is preceded by clearing of farms and tilling the land. Some farms require ploughing for the second time, also known as harrowing. Then comes the actual planting.
Culturally speaking, no Luo should plant without performing certain rituals. According to Samson Jarongo Okumu, a Luo elder and resident of Kochieng’ Village Homabay County, a husband and a wife must have sex on the first night after planting. This ritual, Okumu explains is called ‘Golo kodhi.’
The ritual begins in the morning when people head to the farm. In the evening, the husband and wife meet in bed to fulfill the cultural rite.
“It does not matter whether the husband or the wife go to plant in person. They can send even their children but what is important is that they must fulfill the cultural rite at night,” 97-year-old Okumu told The Nairobian.
The significance of this ritual is to free the sons of the homestead to proceed with planting in their own farms. Before their parents partake of their golo kodhi, sons-married or not-are prohibited from planting.
For polygamous homes, the first wife is obligated to fulfil the ritual, after which the other wives can begin planting. Chairman of a faction of Luo Council of Elders Nyandiko Ongadi explains why it is compulsory for the first wife also known as nyachira to participate in golo kodhi.
He argues that it is a sign of honour and respect.
“Nyachira is considered the honour of a husband. She is the one responsible for fulfilling the ritual. That is why the body of a husband must be taken to the house of nyachira even if he dies in the house of another wife,” Ongadi explains.
Raymond Obonyo, 64-year-old resident of East Kanyada in Homa Bay Sub-county argues that golo kodhi gives the first wife an opportunity to plant first.
“There are cases where nyachira may be disadvantaged financially or physically. This rule gives her the opportunity to have her farm planted regardless of their problems,” Obonyo said.
“Golo kodhi is an opening activity which allows everybody in the homestead to start planting in their farms,” Okumu adds.
This is why Luo men and women who work in kapango or away from the village, return home just before the planting season.
“A woman or man with a homestead must return home for golo kodhi. The number of days they spend at home does not matter as long they spend a night to fulfill the ritual,” Okumu explains.
However, sons who are married are prohibited from having sex on the night their parents are ‘planting a seed’.
“Either the husband or the wife can notify children on the night of golo kodhi. Sons are expected to sleep like omondi long’ lilo (men whose genitals don not function). This is a cultural requirement which must be observed well,” Okumu said.
Sons can only start having sexual intercourse at least two days after the ritual.
Luo elder Nyandiko Ongadi says violation golo kodhi rules can result in chira.
Chira is a disease characterized by wasting away.
“A person suffering from chira grows thin and thinner. But the disease cannot be detected if the patient undergoes medical tests,” Ongadi says.
The ritual also takes place for weeding and harvesting time.