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The Maasai – Leading A Healthy Lifestyle In A Primitive Or Non–Primitive World

When you go to Southern Kenya and part of Northern Tanzania, you can find yourself in the land of the Maasai. There are close to six hundred thousand Maasai people in Kenya alone while the Maasai in Tanzania are more than half the number found in Kenya. They are commonly referred to as the Lion Hunting People.
They were the ancestral inhabitants of the Maasai Mara National Reserve of Kenya.

Their lifestyle has not differed from their ancestors in spite of all the modern changes that have taken place in Kenya and Tanzania. Almost every aspect of life is unique about these people right from eating habits to types of dress and footwear.
In spite of both Kenya and Tanzania enjoying the modernized world, there has been very little impact in “modernizing” these people.

Maasai People
Maasai Men Performing The “Maasai Jumping Dance” Locally Called Adumu Or Aigus

NOMADIC LIFESTYLE

The Maasai Tribe lives a nomadic lifestyle spending two to three months at a particular place. Then they leave in search of cattle grazing areas. When they arrive at a new place, women will build houses. The houses will be built in a circular form to allow the kraals of cows and goats to be at the centre of the new village.

Cattle are the Maasai’s most precious possession. Therefore, this arrangement makes it difficult for lions to penetrate into the kraal to kill their cattle. Thorny branches are used to fence the kraals as well as the village itself.

MATERIALS FOR THE HOUSES

The architecture of houses is unique in the sense that poles, fibre, cow dung are used as building materials. The houses are arranged in circular form putting their precious animals in the middle of the village. They separate goats from the cattle by putting a hedge of thorns around them. Again the houses in the village are fenced so that lions have to pass this hedge before approaching where the cattle and goats are located.

DRESSING STYLE

Both men and women wear nose or earrings in addition to their traditional, colourful regalia. For men, only those who have graduated from being warriors are allowed to wear earrings. The whole tribe is conscious of their enemy number one and so the people wear loose-fitting materials to enable them to move freely in case of an emergent attack.

Maasai Man               Maasai Woman

LION HUNTING PEOPLE

From childhood, boys play with bow and arrows to target a banana on the ground or up the tree. Later these skills are developed to hunt for food or defend their village. Most important of all, the skill will be used to prove manhood by killing a lion. That is how the Maasai warriors are fearless hunting lion people.

They are responsible for reducing the population of lions in Southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. In Kenya, this forced the Kenya Wildlife Service to mobilize funds and negotiate with the elders of the tribe to stop hunting down lions so that they can be compensated for each cow killed. The service was no longer going to respect lion killers but would imprison them for a long time.

REACTION FROM THE WARRIORS

Of course, this proposition is not a welcoming remark to the warriors who have to stop practising the hunting lifestyles of their ancestors. For their girls and women to think of them as non-lion killers would be unthinkable. They can no longer command their usual respect as lion killer warriors.

SLAUGHTERING A GOAT

Slaughtering a goat or cow is done outside the village and apportioned to children, women, warriors and elders. For instance, once a goat is slaughtered, blood from the goat is drunk fresh by the people slaughtering it. The Maasai believe lions are strong because they begin by drinking blood from their prey. They, too, would like to maintain their strength by drinking the blood of the animals they slaughter. The warriors slaughtering the goat eat a five-course raw meal before they hand over for the division of the goat to various people.

Starting the fire is by gathering acacia thorns and rubbing tiny sticks together and letting dry leaves and small sticks receive the tiny flame of fire.

DIVISION OF THE MEAT AFTER SLAUGHTER

The back of a goat is given to the owner of the goat while the right hind leg is shared among the pregnant women and the elderly. The other part belongs to the warriors. The chest belongs to the children while the ribs belong to the chief and the other part given to the owner of the goat. The front leg is also given to the owner of the goat. The fat of the stomach is eaten raw by the warriors. The kidney is also eaten raw while the roasted liver is only eaten by the elderly people who are aged 30 and above. There is no salt added to the roasted meat. The eyeballs are left for the dogs or hyenas to eat.

CIRCUMCISION OF BOYS

From the tender age of seven years and above, boys are taken into the bush for circumcision. They are taught how to behave in their adulthood and how to respect their elders. After that, they wait for another period of seclusion at the age of eighteen. This is referred to as the Moran Ceremony.

After this special seclusion, they adorn themselves in the beautiful Maasai regalia. The morning after the completion of the initiation ceremony, a cow is slaughtered to celebrate the festival of the boys who have turned into men. Women are invited to attend the ceremony to ensure that they participate in the fidelity ceremony that follows.

THE FIDELITY CEREMONY

The Fidelity Ceremony is unheard-of among many African tribes. In this special ceremony, women are given part of the roasted meat of a cow to present to their husbands. The latter would accept the gift wholeheartedly if he has remained faithful to his wife since their marriage ceremony. If not, and for the fear of the unknown consequences, the husband would decline to receive the gift. This is a somewhat embarrassing situation. The elders of the village then encourage his wife to decide the kind of punishment that would be meted out to her husband. Sometimes the decision from the disappointed wife would be to have her husband beaten strokes of a cane in public. In most cases, women demand that their husbands give them a goat or goats.

CIRCUMCISION OF GIRLS

Circumcision of the Maasai girls also takes place at a tender age. Even before or after female circumcision, grasshoppers are a source of delicacy eaten together with uncircumcised boys. The girls are encouraged to perform functions they will be doing in adulthood such as building houses and milking cows and goats.

MARRIAGE CEREMONIES

Marriage ceremonies are initiated by parents. No girl or man picks a husband or wife for personal choice. Girls are taught during their initiation ceremonies not to fall pregnant before their marriage ceremony. They are allowed to visit places where the warriors are, but they must go back and sleep in their mothers’ houses. A girl may get married to an already married man and be the second, third or even fourth wife of an elderly Maasai.

Warriors aged between eighteen and twenty-nine are not allowed to marry until they graduate from this category at the age of thirty. Some girls are considered to be lucky to get married to a single man. However, because of almost unbearable workload for the women, wives encourage their husband to acquire another wife.

MAASAI’S PATRIOTISM

The Maasai people have been taking part in Kenya’s independence celebrations adorned in their beautiful traditional dress or regalia. Their traditional songs and dances are a marvel to the spectators. In this way, they show their patriotism to their country. Next time you think of meeting a peculiar people, try going to Maasai Land.

You Can Also Read About The Zulu Tribe

 

20 thoughts on “The Maasai – Leading A Healthy Lifestyle In A Primitive Or Non–Primitive World

  1. Wow! This is a great resume of the Maasai lifestyle and culture. I think they are one of the most documented nomadic tribe in Africa. I personally like the fact that they are auto-sufficient in their way of life. And today because of their art and talent in using leather to make shoes, bags, belt and other items, they can sell their products and make extra income to help them and their families.

    Thanks be for sharing.

    1. Adyns, the Maasai peoples’ lifestyle has remained intact over the years due to their determination to preserve it. You rightly wrote that they have sold to the rest of the world shoes, bags and other items; and in that way, they have sold a piece of their culture to us. I personally like their sandals and beads.

  2. I have a friend who was very successful in running, I remember he and his running mates took a trip
    to Kenya to visit some Maasai men. They were all overrun by the Maasai nomads. The Maasai people
    were very friendly and they said that it was one of the most exciting trips and a memory of a
    lifetime. I wish that I could do a similar trip one day, but without all the running! How much money do I need for a journey like this?

    1. Bernie, you will not need to be running or for that matter jumping with the Maasai men. You can sit and watch their dance and rituals. They are friendly and hospitable people.
      Depending on which country you will be, either in Kenya or Tanzania, you can book a Maasai village or tour. 
      This should cost between USD 10 to USD 20. You can check out the right accommodation by Clicking Here!
      !  

  3. I found it to be a blend of both amusement and interesting to see the way the Massai live their lives. I am getting to hear about them for the very first time in my life and their story is really amazing. Lion hunters, drinking bloods, devouring it raw. And so much more, I just really wish I would be able to check them out myself. Thanks

    1. Rodarrick, you need to find the time and update your calendar to include visiting the Maasai people. They have will offer you an out of this world experience with their way of life and approach to life. They have preserved their culture and values for a long time and show no signs of relenting.

  4. Wow. I realized that Africa is beautiful. 

    Despite the fact that resources are limited in this region, this does not seems to matter. The people here use what they have, simplicity, and make it a luxury. I really appreciate them.
    I would like to buy an Authentic Maasai Shuka, Camping and Picnic Blanket. The price of $ 30 is very cheap for what people in Africa are doing to make such objects.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Nimrodngy, Africa is a beautiful continent gifted by nature, natural resources and wildlife. The people too are wonderful a case in point being the Maasai people. They are gifted with making wonderful crafts besides the Maasai Shuka, like the beaded jewellery that includes bracelets, necklaces and pendants. You will be sure of getting an artefact from that place.  

  5. Its a very known fact that Africa’s indigenous people are very much of ancestral beliefs and they are very rich when it comes to tradition and culture. This alone made Africa one of the most centralised centre of primitives. The Maasias are really lovely in culture, I love their bravery and the ability to sort for greener pastures, also their dressing is quite interesting. It’s nice that you shared this article.

    1. Andrea, most societies around the world have tried to preserve their culture and African are no exception. It only that the practices in Africa are to the extreme side to the other world. Each African culture has its uniqueness and way of life. The Maasai have preserved their unique way of life which has made them prominent on the continent. 

  6. Hello Edgar,
    That it is beautiful to discover the riches of our beautiful planet by the diversity of places, geographies, fauna, cultures and mainly peoples and customs associated with them.
    I usually like magazines that talk about travels and discoveries, so you can visit the world without leaving your sofa and learn lots of new things.
    Thank you it was a treat.

    1. Moi, I appreciate your comment. This planet has beautiful places and Africa is packed with a number of them. Travelling allows us the time to have time to reflect on life and have peace of mind. You are able to develop creative thoughts as well as appreciate the culture and way of life of others. Africa has a unique climatic environment, cultural sites, wildlife and people who make the travel experience worthwhile.
      I encourage my readers to embrace travelling.

  7. I was born in a big city and I was accompanied by cars and high-rise buildings every day. As I grew older, I began to yearn for the lifestyle of rural tribes. Slow-paced, work a little bit every day, and then stay with the family. But sometimes think about the sanitary conditions in those areas and the medical equipment is very backward. So I gave up the idea.

    1. Jax, given your background and lifestyle, it may not be easy for you to live the life of rural setting like for the Maasai. The best you can do is to tour and visit these rural tribes, have a brief engagement with them and retire to the comfort of your hotel room.
      I encourage you to revive your idea and visit the Maasai people.

  8. It’s always amazing to read about the way of life of some of these tribes most especially the African tribes, The Maasai is one that is so engrossed in pastoralism, this is very good and actually it depicts that civilization does not determine who and what you’re capable of doing, I don’t have a problem with the fact that didn’t embrace civilization like other parts of their country, it might have actually torn them apart and even lose their ancestors ways of life and tradition. Thanks for This.

    1. Wildecoll, most traditions are passed from generation to generation and the communal land tenure system they adopted made it easy for them to share water and pasture. This made pastoralism easy for them.
      Changes began when their land was taken for conservation as game parks and reserves.
      Their traditional diet of raw meat, milk and blood is fast changing as they have started growing crops like rice, maize and potatoes.  

  9. This is yet another wonderful and interesting post about The Maasai and their lifestyle. The last time I was in your website, I read about the Zulu tribe, it was nice. I’ve been to Kenya once for a holiday with my husband about 5 years ago and I must say I enjoyed my stay there. I love the way of life of the Maasai, it shows they are very cordial amongst the family and they are hardworking. Bravery is one thing I admire so much, its nice to hear that they possess it. I’ve enjoyed this article, thank you.

    1. Thank you, Roslinear, for following my articles. It is good that you had a wonderful experience when you lasted visited Kenya and you liked the way of life of the Maasai. It is good when you chosen holiday destination exceeds your expectations. What intrigued me was that they have no chiefs but spiritual leaders instead.
      From the age of 16 years, boys are taken into intensive training to be warriors and that is how bravery is inculcated into their way of life. As warriors, the Maasai men are supposed to protect their cattle and land because without them, then they are no more!

  10. I live in Uganda but often see the Maasai men around selling their items. They wear their traditional read shuka that makes them stand out.
    They know we like their items and travel all the way to deliver to us. I truely like their culture.

    1. Patrick, these items sell a lot and they have learnt this; so they make sure they peddle them to many people as they can near or far.
      They have built a reputation as a brave and tough tribe whose men are not scared to confront lions.
      Their culture is captivating and that is why is one of the most popular tribes in Africa.

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