In the early 19th century, pioneer white explorers and missionaries would refer to the Luo as the Kavirondo.
The name stuck for decades. Indeed, even Oginga Odinga one time came up with the Kavirondo Luo Thrift Trading Corporation.
But how did the name Kavirondo come about?
During the time of the building of the Uganda railway, Luo men – like many Nilotic communities towards the north of Lake Victoria, had a lowly stool on which they squatted.
As the visitors ventured into Luo Nyanza, they would come across columns of Luo men squatting in the open and in groups.
The Swahili porters and interpreters accompanying the whites would refer to the squatting position as ‘kukaa virondo’ in Swahili.
Thus the Luo as a community would be referred to as ‘wale wakaa virondo’. Unable to pronounce the phrase correctly, the Europeans would simply call the natives of Lake Victoria region as the ‘Kavirondo’. And so the people of Nyanza then came to be known as the Kavirondo.
Indeed, some of the early maps of Kenya had marked Luoland as ‘Kavirondo’.
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