Okebo describe their tribal structure in terms of localised unilineal descent groups. Three levels of segementation appear to be important, and will be differentiated as clans, sub-clans, and lineages respectively. Exogamy is a mark of clanship, and therefore when two groups do not intermarry the presumption is that they belong to the same clan. However, complications arise from the fact that the obligation of exonomy ca arise in other ways, according to Okebo tradition. A sub clan often does not inter marry with sub clans which have long been settled around it, and with which sub clans which have long been settled around it, and with which close relationships have developed, even though they are known to belong to a different clan. Such sub clans, which are thus isolated among members of another clan, are often reffered to as members of that clan, and only persistent enquiry elicits the response that in fact they used to belong to another clan. In this situation a sub clan. In this situation a sub clan may be claimed by two different clans, and it may be claimed by to different clans, and may actually observe exogamy with both, or parts of both. But it may well be supposed that affiliation with the clan from which such a sub clan has become isolated may eventually be forgotten, and exogamy no longer observed. Some sub clans mention the fact that a certain sub clan fed them in a famine, and that therefore they will not marry into sub clan, although they do not admint to being members of the same clan.
On the other hand, the obligation of exogamy may lapse with respect to a particular sub clan, although it continues to claim the same clan affiliation. This is due to wrongs arising between one sub clan and another, especially the begetting of a bastard by a boy of the one on a girl of the other, or fighting between them for any other cause. This may lead to one sub clan inter marrying with all the rest of the clan, or losided inter marriage between certain sub clans and not others within the same clan. The reader is referred to the appendix at the end of the book, where the main Okebo clans and sub clans are listed, and examples of all these situations noted.
An isolated sub clan may, in effect, become a clan in relation to the surrounding groups, though it remains a sub clan in relation to distant sub clans with whom clan affiliation is still recognised by both sides. the greater part of the Okebo now occupy a fairly continuous stretc of territory, though many sub clans are still scattered about all over the Alur country, and naturally these are often ignorant of their clan affiliation in relation to the main mass of Okebo. Within the main territory of the Okebo there are several fairly large clans, of which a number of sub clans are settled continuously to one another. It is the sub clans which are settled some distance from the main territory of their clan, though still among other Okebo sub clanss, of which a number of sub clans are settled contingously to one another. It is the sub clans which are settled some distance from the main territory of their clan, though still among other Okebo sub clans of heterogeneous clan affiliation, which enter into the various assymmetrical inter group relationships mentioned above. Some of the Okebo sub clans most influenced by the Alur have
addopted praised cries on the Alur pattern, and these often indicate past associations with other Okebo groups for which there is now no coherent explanation.
The greater part of the clans of membi Ondhikuru and Abaji, with some sub clans of Yu, are settled in an almost continuous belt with some sub clans of yu, are settled in an almost continuous belt along the western border of Ukuru, constituting a population of about five thousand. Other parts of these clans are found as comparatively isolated sub clans or sections of sub clans in various parts of Alurland. The Avare are the main clan in the present Congo Okebo county of Ndo Avare which comprises a vast area to the north west, settle at the very low desity for this region of well under ten to the square mile. The other clns are mainly found in the other congo Okebo county of Ndo Okebo, which lies to South Avare on the west bank of the Kibali river.
Some of the groups in the distant county of Ndo Avare never came into intimate contact with the Alur. They are, moreover, ethnically transitional, being influenced by or mixed with their further neighbours, the Mamvu Lese and Logo, Just as in other quarters the Okebo have been interepenetrated by Madi and Lendu or assimilated to the Alur.
The clans of Kari, Ndhebu, Ngoza and Abira did not work iron, which is regarded by most Okebo as the typical characteristic of their culture, and, indeed, their outstanding achievement.
The numerical relation of the Okebo to the Alur was much lower than that of the Lendu, and the proportion of the tribe coming under Alur influenced and the strength and result of that influence seems to have been greater in the former than in the latter case. For this reason it is more difficult to give an account of the Okebo kingship and political system as wholly distinct from that of the Alur, especially as the now separated organised Okebo of the Congo inevitably took the Alur political system as their model, while Okebo groups which came under least Alur influence are ethnically transitional in other directions and so equally under presentative of a distinctive Okebo system. However, the Alur concerned are well aware of the varying extend to which different parts of the Okebo population have become Alurised; nor did it take me long to distinguish this myself, and in the following account the distinctive features of what is admittedly a hybrid culture are, I think, quite plain.
The Okebo are patrilineal and patrilocal. Clans are in theory strickly exogamous. The size of their exogamous groups this contrasts strikingly with that of the Lendu whose practice of exogamy extends to the sub clans only. Furthermore, Okebo and Lendu sub clans are of approximately the same size, and there are many more of them in each of the Okebo clans than there are in those of the Lendu. As among
the Lendu, the older informants, and those who in other respects inspire confidence, give only very short genealogies. The lengthy ones given by others sometimes indicate long standing Alurisation as in the case of the Abaji, or else a purely recent attempt to get even with neighbouring tribes of which the lengthy genealogies do not usually express the relationships of sub clans, or give any unity in this respect to the clan. Some intermediate named groupings are claimed between variou sub clans, but have no practical significance beyond the possible expression of feelings of closer unity between them than with the rest. Sub clans contain lineages usually of three or four generations depth from living elders to the point beyond which they tend to become confused or to fade out, or, failing to remember any other authentic ancestros, fall back upon the name of the lineage or even of the sub clan or clan itself.
In lendu social organisation emphasis falls most heavily upon the sub clan as a group, less upon clan,a dn only very vaguely upon the shadowy groupings beyond that level. This attitude schema twords the large scalre framework of sociey is similar to that found in segmentary lineage systems which consist of widening fields of relationship corresponding to diminising strength and precision of obligation is too restricted to justify its inclusion in this type of society. In Okebo social organisation, again, the strongest emphasis falls upon the sub clan, and beyond that on the clan, but Okebo clanship is both fairly well defined and stands at the very outside limit of awareness of the kinship framework, and the only other large scale structural relationships are the ill defined groupings intermediate between sub clan and clan. This structural orientaion belongs rather to the type normal in social systems based on clans which are regarded as more or less absolute in time, and not normally subject to the changes of configuration resulting from segmentary processes. It thus seems to me that the structural orientaions of Lendu and Okebo society belong to two different conceptual types, but the restricted scope of social organisation in both societies limits also the significance of this distinction. In both, part from the wider systems into which they were partially integrated by other tribes, the greater part of social life was conceptually framed within the structure of sub clans and their component lineages, groupings which were of roughly comparable size in both societies.
Okebo clans, like those of the Lendu and Alur, use the term ambab of one another, but they have no special term for sub clans as the Lendu have. Clans recognised no common bonds except those of interlocking consanquinity resulting from intermarriage, and regarded their normal relation as that of war. This, however, meat less than in the case of the Lendu since the Okebo clans were so large, and consequently most sub clans belonging to different clans were comparatively far apart. Otherwise, much of what was said in general about the Lendu applies to the Okebo also. They too were, in the Congo but not in Uganda, as far as possible disengaged fromt= the Alur by the Belgians and set up with chiefs of their own. They do not for the most part attempt to deny their past relations with the Alur. All their pride is concentrated upon their achievements as iron workers. Their skill in this respect is actually of a very low order, compared with that displayed among the inter lacustrine Bantu. However, they were the major iron workers of this area west of the Nile and Lake Albert. The Alur largely depended upon the Lendu and Madi. But the later tribes worked iron themselves also, whereas the Alur never did.
The Okebo feel themselves to be the most essential element in the social and economic life of their region, for without them, they say, the Alur would have starved, haing neither hoes nor wepons. just as the Alur like to compare themselves with Europeans for their politial skill, so the Okebo say that they and Europeans share the same marvellous secrets of metallurgy, though Europeas have now somewhat surpassed them. They have in fact given up making hoes for some time already in face of the competiotion of harder and lighter blades from the local shops. They still make soears, knives, arrows, grass slashers, and axes and adzes. So intensely were their tradional interests oriented upon metal working and its social implications, that their political subordination to the Alur counted for little beside it.
One is not so impressed by the prevalence of unrestricted violence among the Okebo as among the Lendu. Not only was their clan a wider group than that of the Lendu, but a somewhat superior order obtained between the sub clans within it. Like the lendu they show the most confused conception of their own social structure.