Dholuo is a member of the Western Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. It is spoken by about 5.2 million people, mainly in eastern Kenya, and also in northern Tanzania. In Kenya there are Dholuo speakers on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, particularly in Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Kisii, Nyamira, Busia and Kakamega counties, and in the Kavirondo Gulf area. In Tanzania Dholuo is spoken in the Tarime district of the Mara Region.

Dholuo is also known as Dho-Luo, Luo or Nilotic Kavirondo, which is now considered pejorative. It is closely related to Alur, Lango, Acholi and Adhola, which are spoken in Uganda.

Dholuo was first written in the early 20th century by Arthur Asa Grandville Carscallen, a Canadian missionary. There are various ways to spell it using the Latin script, and since the 1960s, efforts have been made to standardise the spelling of Dholuo and other Bantu languages.

It is taught in some primary schools, and used on the radio and in literature.

Latin alphabet for Dholuo

Latin alphabet for Dholuo

Download an alphabet chart for Luo (Excel)

Information compiled by Wolfram Siegel

Luo alphabet

An alternative alphabet for Dholuo was developed by Kefa Ombewa between 2009 and 2012. Numerals were created separately by Paul Sidanidi. They met online in 2013 and combined their work to create the Luo alphabet. More details.

Sample text

Kar chakruok Wach ne nitie, kendo Wach ne nikod Nyasaye, kendo Wach ne en Nyasaye. Ne en gi Nyasaye kar chakruok. Gik moko duto nochwe kuome, kendo ka dine oonge to onge gima dine ochwe mosechwe. Ngima ne ni kuome, kendo ngimano ne en ler mar ji. Lerno rieny ei mudho, to odhiero mudho winjo.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John, 1-5

Source: http://www.ibs.org/bibles/luo/pdf/johana.pdf

Videos in and about Dholuo

Information about Dholuo | Luo Lakeside Script | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel


Information about the Dholuo language

Learn Dholuo (lessons, phrases and grammar)
http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/11295/71359/Dholuo grammar for beginners.pdf
http://home.btconnect.com/anyadwechildrensandfamilywelfareassociation.com/luo languages and phrases at anyadwe.html

New Testament of the Bible in Dholuo

Nilo-Saharan languages

Acholi, Alur, Aringa, Ateso, Avokaya, Baka, Bari, Beli, Bongo, Daza, Dholuo, Dinka, Dongotono, Fur, Gumuz, Jur Modo, Kanuri, Karamojong, Keliko, Komo, Lango, Lotuko, Lokoya, Lopit, Lugbara, Maasai, Ma'di, Mandari, Morokodo, Moru, Narim, Nuer, Nobiin, Old Nubian, Olu'bo, Shilluk, Toposa, Turkana, Uduk, Wa'di, Zaghawa, Zarma

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 03.01.23


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