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They originated in the Congo Forest like other Bantus and settled in the fertile highlands of Kisii, Gucha and Nyamira Districts of Nyanza Province.
The clan formed the basic political unit for Gusii communities. Each clan was made up of related families.
Leadership of the clan was in the hands of a council of elders who played a pivoted role in solving disputes, decided on inter-tribal marriages, maintaining law and order and making executive decisions affecting the community like declaring war. The council was known Abagata ba gesaku. The Abagusii also had chiefdoms made up of several clans, which United to counter-attacks from their neighbours. Each chiefdom was headed by a chief (Omugambi), assisted by a council of clan elders. After circumcision, the boys joined the age-set which acted as a military wing responsible for the defence of the community.