Saturday, 1 March 2014

Importance Of Chicken ‘Gweno’ In Traditions

Chicken ‘Gweno’ (in Dholuo) is the considered as a special food among the Luo community. In the community, chicken was slaughtered during occasions such as:
Marriage ‘Nyombo’
Funerals ‘Liel’
For special visitors ‘Welo mogen’
Home coming ‘Duogo dala’
Moving from the parents home to one’s home ‘Golo dala' and many other ceremonies.

Preparation of chicken ‘Chinjo gweno
Chicken slaughtering was done at the backyard by the man of the home. In his absence members of the household would do it (i.e. the sons). Women would only slaughter chicken in the absence of men.

The slaughtered chicken would be dipped in hot water to make the removal of feathers easier. After removal of the feathers the chicken was roasted on the fire place or placed on three stones used for cooking until it turns brown.

The now featherless chicken would be apportioned into 7 or 8 pieces according to the occasions e.g. during marriage ‘nyombo’. In other occasions, apportioning of chicken ‘ng’ado gweno’ was done in the normal way, either by men or women depending on who was available at that time.

The apportioned pieces were placed in a pot, water and salt added then it was let to boil. In the old days the frying of food was not done, oil from milk was used. The oil was added to the boiling water and it was left boil till tender and ready for eating.

Marriage occasions ‘Nyombo
The chicken was apportioned into big sizes of 4 or 5 parts. Some parts were removed like gizzard, intestines and liver whereas parts like the head and feet were kept aside.
The son-in-law was served with special parts of the chicken and he was the one to eat before other visitors. This was so done to enable other sons-in-law to take chicken in their in-laws homes.

Funeral occasions ‘Liel’ 
During funerals chicken was slaughtered for the visitors i.e. in-laws from both sides. There was also a special chicken which was slaughtered and eaten by the elders of the clan for cleansing ceremony of the dead person. The ceremony was only for older men.

Special visitors ‘Ruako welo mogen
Luos as a community are very welcoming and proud people. In the event of a visit by a respectable person then chicken together with brown ugali would be served to the visitors.

Home coming ‘Duogo dala
Chicken was slaughtered during the home coming of a son who migrated near home or went on a journey in a far land and he is finally home. This happens even today though sons and daughters get the same privileges since the girls are nowadays allowed to eat chicken, as opposed to the earlier days.

Cultural beliefs (Myths)
Traditionally, chicken was food for men only. Women and girls were not allowed to eat chicken.
Nowadays chicken is eaten by all members of the family. Chicken used to be slaughtered for important visitors and during most of the celebrations or occasions but nowadays it may be taken just as a family meal.

Luos generally love chicken and this explains why in most of the homes chicken is kept.

Story Prepared By:
Monica Ageng’o, Librarian (Herbarium Nmk

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