Socio-political organization of the Western Bantu during the pre-colonial period


  • They were organized in clans. The clan was the basic unit of their political and social organization.

  • Circumcision of boys was a very important practice, especially among Abaluhyia and Abagusi. It was at circumcision that the boys were taught the values and customs of their homeland. While Abagusi and Abakuria circumcised their females, the rest of the western Bantu did not. Some Western Bantu communities like the Khayo, Samia, Marachi and Abasuba do not have the practice of circumcision.
  • After initiation, the boys joined age-sets. Various age-sets had various duties, e.g. provision of warriors to defend the community, raid for animals,, help one another in tasks such as hunting, building huts, harvesting, etc. Senior age-sets advised the junior ones, settled disputes, distributed war booty, etc.

  • They believed in one God. They regarded God as controller of everything, who continues to influence man‟s life, even after man‟s death. They called God by different names. They also believed in ancestral spirits, to whom they poured libations and offered sacrifices.
  • Medicine men and diviners were highly valued in the society. Sorcerers and witch doctors were hated, because they were believed to use charms and medicine to harm others.


Apart from the Wanga, the Western Bantu were politically organized as follows in the precolonial period:

  • They were under village councils run by elders.
  • They were categorized into age-set systems, which provided the community with defence and security.
  • Positions of leadership were hereditary.

role of the council of elders among the Western Bantu during the pre-colonial period.

  • They maintained and ensured law and order in the community.
  • They served as the final court of appeal in all matters.
  • They had power to declare, stop or call off war.
  • They presided over religious and other communal functions.

  • They served as ritual experts.
  • They settled land disputes.