ABSTRACT

The essay has two parts. The first part outlines one cardinal aspect that runs through traditional African societies: the communal spirit. It is argued that it is this aspect of traditional African societies that sets them apart from the individualistic Western societies. The notions of ontology, ethics, and marriage are used to characterize the communal spirit. The second part, which is the core of the essay, focuses on the naming system among the Luo ethnic group of Kenya (“Joluo”). Three categories are identified in their naming system and it is maintained that all the categories reflect the prevalent communal principle and is the reason why Joluo treat names with reverence. For them a name is more than what one responds to when called out; it is a reflection that an individual is part and parcel of the community .

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