Gusii - Settlements



Before the colonial period, the extended polygynous family was spatially divided into two components: the homestead ( omochie), where the married men and women and their unmarried daughters and uncircumcised sons lived, and the cattle camps ( ebisarate), located in the grazing areas, where most of the cattle were protected by resident male warriors. The British abolished the cattle camps in 1913. In the late nineteenth century most Gusii were settled in dispersed farmsteads, although the North Mugirango built fortified villages for protection against Kipsigis raids. A homestead consisted of the wives' houses. The compound had several elevated granaries for finger millet. The traditional Gusii house ( enyomba ) was a round, windowless structure with a framework of thin branches, walls of dried mull, and a conical, thatched roof. Today the Gusii continue to live in dispersed homesteads sited in the middle of the farm holdings. Modern houses are rectangular, with thatched or corrugated-iron roofs, and cooking has been moved from the house to a separate kitchen structure.

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