From Luoland to the White House: Obama's Kenyan Heritage
Barack Obama has specific family ties with the Luo tribe,  whose members in 1994 numbered 3,185,000 in Kenya and 280,000 in Tanzania . The Luo people are also known as Dholuo and Nilotic Kavrirondo and are the third-largest ethnic group in Kenya (13% of the population).
Obama's cattle-herding ancestors migrated slowly from the Sudan over the past 500 years. Indeed, the Luos speak an Eastern Sudanic language within the Nilo-Saharan family, whereas Swahili (with English, the official language of Kenya) is an unrelated Bantu language of the Niger-Congo family. Language is an important tie among the Luos, as are marriage and other kinship connections. Like their fellow Kenyans, most Luos can speak at least three languages.  The Luo language, like Chinese, uses different tones to distinguish the meaning of otherwise identical words, for what P. Kilbride called "an esthetically pleasing musical quality." 
When the Luos arrived in their new homeland, they exchanged social customs with their Bantu neighbors. For instance, the Bantus borrowed the Luo practice of knocking out their lower incisor teeth as a token of beauty. The Luo men, however, rejected the local tradition of circumcision. 
Bride wealth -- which usually consists of cattle -- is essential to marriage preparations in Luoland. Discussions become so intense that a neutral go-between must often forge an agreement. After a groom accepts a bride's dowry and children have been born, he risks the scorn of his kinspeople; the family will still consider the couple married. 
Although Christian (Anglican, Catholic and independent churches), the Luos retain some of their traditional religious beliefs, such as ancestor worship, and have adopted more recent practices from the outside world.  Sometimes a family will conduct a ritual to learn whether a newborn baby is the reincarnation of an ancestor spirit "juok," meaning "shadow'), freed from spirit realms in the sky or under the earth.  A "juok" may cause serious trouble if neglected or forgotten.
The Judeo-Christian God and the main Luo deity have merged in the Luo religion. The name for "God" depends on a particular power within the context of Christian religion: "Were" ("The one certain to grant requests"); "Nyasaye" ("He who is begged"); "Ruoth" ("The King"); "Jachweth" ("The molder"); "Wuon koth" ("The Raingiver"); and "Nyakalaga" ("The one who flows everywhere"). 
The Lord's Prayer plays an important part in Luo spiritual life:
"Wuonwa manie polo,
nyingi mondo omi luor,
Pinyruodhi mondo obi,
Dwaroni mondo otimre e piny kaka timore e polo.
Yie imiwa kawuono chiembwa mapile pile.
Kaka wan bende waseweyo ne jogopwa.
Bende kik iterwa e tem,
To reswa e lwet Ngama Rach." 
Luo society is patrilineal (with descent through the male line of a family), with bride wealth and polygyny (multiple wives) cementing the kinship ties with the tribe. The Encyclopedia of World Cultures stated that in traditional Luo society:
"Products of exchange progressed from cultivation to chickens, chickens to goats, goats to cows, and finally cows to women. The success of marriages and the wives' social status both depend on their producing of children."
All the same, Luos avoid any discussion of an ongoing pregnancy for fear of mischief from jealous "juoks" or neighbors. Babies wear charms against the "evil eye" and twins are attributed to wicked spirits. 
Within every circular, polygynous homestead, each Luo wife maintains her own house, tending separate fields and granaries. Women do the lion's share of work -- caring for the staple crops -- while the lighter labor of the cash crops falls to the male heads of households. 
The Luos accord deep respect their elders, who control the distribution of bride wealth, cattle, land and relations with outsiders (even labor and cash, to a lesser extent); this comes naturally with the belief that wealth and respect should come with age. 
Although Luos now wear European-style clothing at work and leisure, it was once socially acceptable walk about totally naked in public. Clothes in the old days were minimal -- often just animal hides to cover what Westerners call the "private parts." 
"Ugali" is a Luo staple food eaten several times a day. It is cornmeal stirred into boiling water to make a thick, smooth porridge. A meat stew is a common sauce for the ugali, with a side of "suku mawiki" (greens). 
Children and adults particularly enjoy playing soccer. When a playmate dies, Luo children imitate the mourning rituals of grownups. Girls "make believe" at grinding grain while curshing dirt on a flat stone, play with clay or corncob dolls and try to toss up and catch small stones (a game called "kora"). A popular board game for all ages is "bao," where players try to keep an opponent from placing seeds on their side of the board. 
The children also like to play tongue-twisters and other word games. The child who can say the following sentence the quickest without a flub wins the game:
"Acham tap chotna malando chotna cham tapa malando."
("I eat from the red dish of my lover and my lover eats from my red dish." ) 
According to Erick Otieno Nyambedha and Jens Aagaard-Hansen , the term “duol” is “a term used in reference to traditional Luo life to signify unity and solidarity within a lineage under the authority of the elders.” “Duol” was the rule of Luo society before and during the period of British colonialism, but declined with the modernization of Kenya after independence. Luos have revived and updated their tradition of “duol” to assist rural communities with high instances of HIV/AIDS and to provide life’s necessities to the neediest members of the tribe. The word of the elders speaks louder than the bureaucrats in Nairobi.
One of Barack Obama’s Luo relatives did not fare as well in politics as his American kinsman. “Kenya’s defeated presidential challenger, Raila Odinga,” reported Mike Pflanz  claimed … to be a cousin of Barack Obama and said that they had discussed his country's post-election violence.”
"He has called me to talk about the constitutional crisis in this country,” said the 63 year-old Odinga, “despite being in the middle of the very busy New Hampshire primary.''
"Barack Obama." Notable Black American Men Book II, Thomson Gale, 2006.
Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC. Accessed on November 6, 2008.
 "Luo." Ethnologue Database, http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=luo.
 "Kenya." CIA World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html
 "Luo." Middleton, John and Amal Rassan (volume editors). Encyclopedia of Word Cultures. Volume IX,: Africa and the Middle East. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1995.
 Kilbride, P. "Luo." Gall, Timothy (editor). Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. Volume 1: Africa. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997.
 "Luo." Jerusalem -- Pater Noster (The Lord's Prayer in 1444 Languages) http://www.christusrex.org/
 Nyambedha, Erick Otieno, and Jens Aagaard-Hansen. "Practices of relatedness and the re-invention of duol as a network of care for orphans and widows in western Kenya." Africa 77.4 (Fall 2007): 517(18). General OneFile. Gale. DISCUS Remote Patron Access ITWeb. Accessed on November 9, 2008.
 Pflanz, Mike. "Obama is my cousin, says head of Kenya's opposition.(News)." Daily Telegraph (London, England) (Jan 9, 2008): 017. Custom Newspapers (InfoTrac-Gale). Gale. DISCUS Remote Patron Access ITWeb. Accessed on November 9, 2008.