The Maasai tribe is one of the most renowned African tribes. Although the tribe is made of just a small population, it is still one of the biggest attractions in Africa. The Maasai are found in Kenya, but there are also some living in Tanzania around the Ngorongoro crater just like the people of Luo. It is believed that they have been there for over a century and are the main residents of the Ngorongoro area. If you have plans on going for a safari in Kenya, it is likely that you will come across a local Maasai village or be given a guide on their traditions and history.
See Also Facts about the People of Luo
Maasai People, Tribe and culture
The Maasai is one of the few tribes in Africa that still live life the way they have for decades, honouring their culture, traditions and history. Even though it not easy to ignore the influence of the outside world and modern culture, the Maasai have adapted uniquely, integrating modern ways of life with their culture. Their culture has not remained static, it is transforming, but its beliefs and core values remain strong.
The Maasai are predominantly warriors whose lives revolve around their cattle and herding them to lush, fresh vegetation. They believe that their rain God entrusted them with the cattle when the sky and earth split. A man’s wealth is measured by the number of cattle he has. A unique tradition in their culture is drinking raw blood from their cows, which they believe makes their body strong and is good for the elderly and children to build up their strength. Their main food are meat and milk.
This unique tribe lives in small settlements of about ten huts per homestead. A fence made from thorns to protect the household and the livestock surrounds the ‘manyattas’ (traditional huts). Women build these manyattas. They are constructed using twigs, branches, grass and cow dung. The Maasai women plays a critical role in Maasai community, although the culture considers them minors. In addition to building the huts, they also milk cows and carry out household chores like fetching the water. The main duties of the men are to look after cattle and protect the community from cattle raiders.
You cannot talk about Maasai culture without mentioning Maasai beadwork done by the women. With bright hues, particularly red, green and blue, the beads are very symbolic to the culture. The most common necklace features a flat, large disc made of rows of beads that are put together using cowhide strips. They have now become prized fashion accessory recognised worldwide, but for the Maasai, they are traditional pieced and a very significant part of their culture.
The tribe’s relationship is based on a strict set of rules. The tribe is made up of several small groups of men who are of the same age group. These young men must undergo the ceremony of circumcision and dedication. After circumcision, the young warriors leave their homesteads, armed with spears to make their own life on the plains where they will be looking after cattle.