Fig 1: A Section of a Luo Homestead (Dala or Pacho) showing the Main House (Od Mikayi), a Granary (Dero) and a Euphorbia (Ojuok) Fence (Source: NMK Audiovisual Archives, Photo by Fiddy Wangari Waruinge 2010). Traditional granaries were cylindrical and had conical grass-thatched roofs. Some granaries today are rectangular and made of planks of wood and sisal poles with iron-roofs. A food reserve for each Luo family, Dero was a noble centre of the homestead portraying the community’s capacity against hunger and a significant cultural spot of varying entertainment and ritual value. Such granaries are disappearing from the contemporary Luo Homesteads.
Not only forming a resting place during sunny weather, dero was a social and a health index for the Luo people. People often had meals and played games like ajua besides deche. Whenever one was overfed or suffered from constipation during festivities, one would be urged to run around dero a number of times, singing and blowing out air from one’s mouth into the granary. While this may have been purely a wise counsel to careless feeders on the need for physical exercise to relax their stomach muscles and allow digestion to occur, the focus of this activity was ritualistic in the sense that relief came from singing and dancing to the store, the source of the consumed food. The stomach and the granary were to be in harmony for the sustained health of the individual members of the Luo community. This did not mean that the Luo had no knowledge of curative herbs, for pepper and other weeds just did the miracle. The community wise-men saw that physical exercise to relieve constipation had to be done around the granary or else the individual had to go and rub his or her stomach on a path as a curse of greed to ground on which people trod on end.