MEET EAST AFRICAN MAASAI : THEIR ORIGIN, TRADITION, AND CULTURAL WAY OF LIFE
Meet the East African Maasai : Had you ever heard about the Maasai people? Were you asking yourself about the origin of Maasai? Their way of life? How did they exist in East Africa? In case you were asking yourself about such questions and others, now it is your time to come aware of it. This tribe is called Maasai and not Masai as most people are confusing. The word Maasai stands for people speaking Maa language. Though most people use the word Masai to refer to Maasai as it has been inherited from the British settlers in Kenya but it has been spelled incorrectly. The Maasai’s brightly-colored shukas make them look so special. I warmly congratulate you for daring your time to read this article for it is really interesting as well as entertaining. Let’s go together to learn a lot about this interesting tribe.
Maasai (not Masai as explained above). According to their historical background, the Maasai are believed to be originated from South Sudan before they moved to the Nile Valley of North-Western Kenya almost around the 15th century. They then moved to Tanzania around the 17th and 18th centuries.
How were their settlements in the Eastern part of Africa?
The Maasai people recruited enough land mainly in forests and rift valleys which could support pastoralism. For instance, in Tanzania; they lived around coastal areas such as Tanga so that their cattle could be able to access enough water and food. They were also hunters using their local tools and weapons for hunting. These local weapons also supported them in fighting against their enemies.
As we said that the Maasai are originally from Kenya but you can see currently are spreading all over the Eastern part of Africa. Maasai in the mainland was evicted from fruitful soil of Mount Kilimanjaro and Meru and preserved for national reserve. In Kenya as well, most of the fertile land that Maasai recruited was retained by the government for preserving national parks and wildlife reserves. such as the national park of Amboseli, Nairobi, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park and Tsavo in Kenya; and Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire, and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
LifeStyle as Well as Economic Activities;
Maasai are pastoralists in nature and have protested several times against the two governments of Tanzania and Kenya to change their way of life. They have been claiming for their rights of livestock keeping in most of the national parks. They have demanded grazing rights to most of the country reserves and parks in both countries for several years. They never experienced the slave trade in their own societies due to their strengths. Also living around forests where wild animals kept themselves emancipated the Maasai from troubles. Interesting!
As we said that Maasai is currently spreading all over the Eastern part of Africa, but most are found in Tanzania and Kenya whereas, in Tanzania, you can interact with them in Meru, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Manyara, Simanjiro, and other places in the Northern part of Tanzania. In the case of Kenya, Maasai are highly populated around Nakuru, Eldoret, and some of the national parks and reserves.
The Maasai used their local technologies to construct their houses. They were mainly using readily available materials for houses construction. These works were mainly done by women in the society and were designed purposely for short-term settlements. They were never permanent ones just because they were always moving from one place to another looking for pastures and water for their cattle. Timbers were taken and fixed directly on holes in the ground for a while just before they moved to another place.
Maasai are living in male-dominated families (patriarchal families) whereby the father is considered as the head of the family. Young boys normally undergo military pieces of training so that when they are grown up, they can protect their families against enemies and wild animals. They are required to watch their cattle in pastures. These young boys are called Morani. Morani is also a circumcised and well-trained youth.
How about their food?
They are highly exposed to local foods such as huge porridge known as ugali. Ugali is accompanied by raw milk, raw meat, and raw blood of cattle.
The traditional way of Circumcision;
Boys who are teenagers are required to be circumcised. After circumcision, they are placed in a certain place normally a village where they will be safe until they recover. In the villages, they are also trained to become soldiers so that they can fight for their societies. They are also taught about wisdom and manhood for their elders and society at large. Their dancing styles also make them look so beautiful and peculiar since they are dancing in a well and organized manner that makes their culture so attractive to foreigners especially tourists.
What affects their life?
The changing nature of the world has affected the lives of this interesting tribe is a great way since they are living traditionally including their way of life. They are most struggling day and night looking for arable land. As explained above, the governments of Tanzania and Kenya are now preserving the most of fertile lands for national parks and reserves leaving Maasai families landless.
Therefore, the government needs to create strong policies and laws which will protect the lives and land of these semi-nomadic pastoralists instead of recruiting fertile land from them unreasonably in order to emancipate them from such miserable life. Also, this will help the countries (Kenya and Tanzania) towards the decline of tourist attractions for national cultural heritage.