About the Maasai people

The Maasai are nilotic speakers living in the region stretched from Mt Kenya to Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The pastoral Purko sub-tribe are more popular than agricultural Kwavi subtribe. They are possibly one of the few communities in Africa that are least contaminated by westernization. They have their today’s lifestyle similar to the one they lived during post colonial era. Despite the continuing threat by foreign exposure, bearing to the region vast resources, the Maasai are yet to give a try for the modern lifestyle. In fact the Maasai were the first community in inland Kenya to receive the white colonial agents.

The fact that the Maasai people have self confidences and they take their culture as unique and is probably the reason they passionately reserve their traditional ways of life. To a Maasai, including the educated elites, adorning in the traditional sheet is normal and unique. To date a full grown Maasai must have gone through several rites of passage. They include: Enkipaata (senior boy ceremony), Emuratta (circumcision), Enkiama (marriage), Eunoto (warrior-shaving ceremony), Eokoto e-kule (milk-drinking ceremony), Enkang oo-nkiri (meat-eating ceremony), Olngesherr (junior elder ceremony). Most of these ceremonies prepares the Maasai boys as future worriors and family head. Culture and values are also taught during these ceremonies. The Maasai take initiation as the best gesture of bravely. During this ceremony Maasai boys have to endure the knife without any anaesthetic intervention. Behavior of courage during the surgery gives the initiate prestige amongst members of the community. Initiation are meant for both boys and girls. It have taken long for the Maasai,who feels they are being forced to westernization, to fully abandoned female initiation. Community leaders, and even at times politician, have severally been caught on camera agitating for the practice despite the world resolve to suppress the rite. The practice is however ending.

An adult Maasai who have passed through all rites of passage to warriorhood is obligated to protect the community wealth, cattle, from rustlers. The community neighbours a number of other pastoral communities who practice cattle rustling . After initiation the boys are supposed to keep large herd of cattle inherited from the parents. They should also marry and sire for the continuity of the community. The area having been located on the Savannah grassland the Maasai cattle are oftenly ambushed by lions. This led to an extremely strenuous relationship between the community and the animal. Maasai were traditionally taught how to kill a lion with a club. For a Maasai meeting a lion is nothing to tremble about. Instead it’s an opportunity to earn more respect from the community by deducing life from the violent animal. The undisputable bravely of the community members have not only earned them respect from within the tribes, but also in the national ranking. In Kenya ,where majority of the Maasai live, the security docket have always been reserved for them. They are said to make the best security officers considering their bravely and integrity. Senior police officers and security ministers are most likely to be Maasai elites. In the community, Maasai warriors live in emanyatta( camps) that resembles the modern barracks. At the centre of the camp they have a community flag fixed on a pole. They do Adumu (jumping) that involves a warrior leaping high while surrounded by a number of singing warriors.

The Maasai are monotheistic. They believe in a God called Nyasaye. Some Maasai bordering Kikuyu Bantu tribe ,in Mt Kenya, call him Ngai. Nyasaye seats in Mount Kenya and a Maasai have to be buried with his grave facing the mountain. Loibon is the title given to the community spiritual leader. In the 18th and 19th centuries he also served as a political leader. The most famous Loibon are Batiany and Lenana his son who served in the colonial era. The two have Mount Kenya peaks named after them. Today Loibon serve as a spiritualist in Tanzania.

As a tourist who want to venture on the Maasai culture you can join many other visitors who come to Maasailand. You can enjoy jumping Adumu together with the warriors. You can also enjoy herding with the herdsmen in the Savannah field. The community is also surrounded by numerous wildlife parks and topographical attraction sites having been located inside the rift valley.

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