Culture: Why Africa has multiple Cultures

The Rachiebo Foundation emerged from generational family lineages dating back to the 14th Century, rooted in African culture. People preserve cultures as tightly as they weave fabrics, safeguarding traditions and customs for generations to come like cultural background in East, Central and South Africa.

The East African cultural groups and migrations

Migration and settlement significantly shape East Africa’s culture, impacting languages, religions, social structures, economies, and artistic expressions profoundly. These dynamic processes continue to shape the cultural landscape of the region, reflecting the complex interplay of history, geography, and human interaction. Diverse migrations across East Africa combine cultures, forging unique identities through the amalgamation of various cultural elements.

Linguistic Diversity:

  • Migrations of different ethnic groups, such as the Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic peoples, have contributed to the linguistic diversity of East African culture.
  • The region echoes with diverse languages and dialects, mirroring the historical migrations and settlements of its varied tribes.
  • Language interactions and borrowings have occurred between different ethnic groups, leading to linguistic diversity and the enrichment of East African languages.

Cultural Exchange:

  • Migrations have facilitated cultural exchange and interaction between different ethnic groups, leading to the sharing of culture, customs, and beliefs.
  • Pastoralist and agriculturalist communities exchange knowledge on agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade, fostering dynamic interactions and shared practices.

Religious Syncretism:

  • Migrations have brought various religious beliefs and practices to East Africa, including Christianity, Islam, and indigenous African religions.
  • Over time, these religious traditions have interacted and synthesized with indigenous beliefs, resulting in unique forms of religious expression and syncretism.
  • For instance, in many East African societies, elements of traditional African spirituality coexist with Christian or Islamic religious practices.

Cultural Innovation and Adaptation:

  • Migrations have spurred cultural innovation and adaptation as communities have adapted to new environments, climates, and socio-economic conditions.
  • Traditional practices like farming, fishing, and craftsmanship evolve with interactions with new cultures and environments, adapting to changing circumstances.

Urbanization and Globalization:

  • In recent years, urbanization and globalization have accelerated cultural exchanges and transformations in East Africa.
  • Urban centers act as melting pots where diverse cultures intermingle, fostering interaction, idea sharing, and innovative cultural expressions.
  • Globalization has also led to the adoption of new technologies, consumer lifestyles, and cultural practices, influencing traditional customs and values in East African societies.

Identity Formation:

  • Migration and settlement have contributed to the formation of complex identities among East African communities.
  • People often maintain connections to their ancestral homelands while embracing aspects of the cultures of their new environments.
  • Ethnic and cultural identities remain important markers of belonging and social cohesion within East African societies.

The Ancient Ogengwa Rock. Cultural Sites
The Ancient Ogingwa Rock.


The Samia people are an ethnic group predominantly found in the western region of Kenya, near Lake Victoria, particularly in Busia County. They belong to the larger Luhya ethnic group, which is one of the largest ethnic groups in Kenya, known for their rich cultural heritage. The culture of the Samia people reflects their unique history, traditions, beliefs, language, and social practices. Samia culture thrives on community bonds, tradition, and adaptation to socio-economic changes, preserving its identity and heritage amid transformation.


  • The Samia people primarily speak the Luhya language, which belongs to the Bantu language family. However, within the Luhya language, there are various dialects spoken by different subgroups, including the Samia dialect.

Social Structure:

  • Samia people, akin to numerous Kenyan ethnic groups, maintain a patrilineal social structure, tracing descent, inheritance, and family lineage through males.
  • Families and extended kinship networks play a significant role in Samia society, and communal values are highly emphasized.

Livelihood and Economy:

  • Historically, the Samia people have been primarily agrarian, engaging in subsistence farming as their main source of livelihood.
  • They cultivate crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, and vegetables, which are staples in their diet.
  • Fishing also plays a significant role in the economy of Samia communities due to their proximity to Lake Victoria.

Cultural Practices:

  • The Samia people have a rich tradition of storytelling, music, dance, and oral poetry. These cultural expressions are often used to pass down history, morals, and values from one generation to another.
  • Samia people adorn vibrant fabrics and accessories during special occasions, celebrating their cultural identity through traditional attire and adornments.

Beliefs and Religion:

  • The majority of the Samia people adhere to Christianity, with Catholicism and Protestantism being the predominant denominations. However, traditional beliefs and practices, including ancestor veneration and belief in spirits, still hold significance for some individuals and communities.
  • Traditional healers and spiritual leaders play roles in addressing spiritual and health-related issues within the community.

Modern Influences:

  • Like many other cultures, the Samia people have been influenced by modernization, globalization, and urbanization, which have led to changes in lifestyle, education, and economic activities.
  • Despite these changes, efforts are made to preserve and promote traditional practices and cultural heritage among the Samia people, often through community organizations, cultural festivals, and educational programs.

Samia migration and settlement

The Samia tribe is further subdivided into various sub communities that speak quite distinctive dialects including the Bagwe, the Bakhekhe and the Basamia as by the 1995 constitution of the Republic of Uganda. The Bagwe speak Olugwe dialect and they occupy Northern region of Busia district. The Bakhekhe speak Oluhehe and occupy a small region of South-West Busia district and are the second smallest indigenous community of Uganda while the Basamia speak typical Olusamia and occupy Southern Busia district, North of Lake Victoria. It’s very hard to differentiate the above three Lusamia dialects unless you are an insider native.

The Samia indigenous oral history has it that they originated from Misri (Egypt). It is believed they lost their founding ancestor called “Akuru” or “Aguru”, here in Misri. From Misri alongside other Luhya sub tribes, they moved southwards, following River Nile and first settled in Mukuno district. They left here the Baganda tribe and continued southwards, this time sailing in boats on Lake Victoria and settled in Sikulu, or modern day “Sigulu islands.” From Sigulu islands, they split into various groups where others continued to Lwambwa in modern day Bunyala district of Kenya while others moved Northwards in modern day Busia district.

Samia people in Uganda

The Basamia tribe is part of the three Luhya sub tribes found in Uganda consisting of the Basamia, the Banyole, and the Bagisu. Other historical books add the Bagwere and the Basoga. However, other Basamia clans believe to have a connection with the Kenyan Luo while others are direct relatives to the Kenyan Banyala. The Basamia people bury their dead facing eastward, facilitating an easy reunion with ancestors, a poignant cultural symbol.

There has not yet been a clear definition of the all the Baluhya historical background. Some people of the Basamia origin can be traced in Tororo, Bugiri, and Namayingo districts of Busoga sub region of Uganda. Be it as it may, the Basamia people are very peaceful and are great respecters of their cultural institutions. In Samia culture, once married always married, meaning they don’t advocate for divorce but rather advocate for amicable settling of marriage affairs. “Samia” is the tribe, “Basamia” the people and the “Olusamia” the language.

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2 thoughts on “Culture: Why Africa has multiple Cultures

  1. Hi Rachiebo Foundation,

    Thank you for this great history. Let us encourage our children and grand children to read about their family history, tribe and cultures.

    Keep it up. You are doing a good job.

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