"KENYA: A dream come true" Kenya by BarbieGirl

Kenya Travel Guide: 4,303 reviews and 11,695 photos

The Masai's land

The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Due to their distinctive customs and dress and residence near the many game parks of East Africa, they are among the most well-known African ethnic groups internationally. The Maasai maintain many of their cultural traditions while engaging contemporary regional and global economic, social, and political forces. They speak Kimaasai, also known as Maa. Maasai are not farmers but nomad pastoralists. The Maasai rely heavily on their cattle and goat herds for survival. These animals provide them with milk (and sometimes meat, though they rarely slaughter their herds as buying and selling cattle is the tribe's form of currency). One of their spiritual beliefs is that their rain god Enkai gave all cattle to the Maasai people, and therefore anyone else who possesses cattle must have stolen them from the Maasai. This has led to some fatal altercations with other tribes of the regions over the centuries when the Maasai attempt to reclaim their "property". The huts of the Maasai are built from dried cattle dung; cattle milk and blood are among the prime components of the Maasai diet.

There are numerous traditions and ceremonies performed by Maasai men. Perhaps best known is the warrior "jumping" dance, where young Maasai morani (warrior-youth) leap into the air from a standing position, in order to demonstrate their strength and agility. Until recent times, in order to earn the right to have a wife, a Maasai moran was required to have killed a lion. Officially this practice has stopped, although there is evidence that it continues in the more remote regions of Kenya. Also in earlier times a group of young boys were required to build a new village and live in it for a lengthy period (often years) as part of the passage to manhood. This practice is dying out due to lack of land.The Maasai tradition is not historically written and is passed on orally by elders to younger generations. For males, this is done by holding the emanyatta ceremony approximately 1 to 2 years after the 7-year age group is closed. Newly named warriors are invited to this ceremonial time which can last from a couple of weeks to a of couple months, as the elders pass down stories of the Maasai tradition. While at emanyatta, the warriors are allowed limited contact with visitors outsite the emanyatta and eat meat and soup daily.

  • Last visit to Kenya: Aug 2005
  • Intro Updated Sep 24, 2006
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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Sep 24, 2006 at 11:56 AM

    Nice start on your new page. Sounds like you had a great experience there.

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