The Maasai Community of East Africa

In open fields of Kenya and Tanzania, along The Great Rift valley live the Maasai People. One of the easily notable community, their traditionally bright coloured leso/kikoi (sheets), beaded elongated ear lobes, a walking stick, machete and sandals made from old car tires is what is easily identified about a Maasai. They came from north of Kenya through the Great Rift Valley. Some even belief they have an ancestral origin from Egypt.
They are dreaded as great warriors. In the 18th century when British colonization was establishing it rule in Kenya, the Maasai were able to resist the British rule for years. However due to restricted movement their cattle died and reduced from 500,000 to 40,000.As a result they finally surrendered in 1904.
A close interaction with the people, introduces one to very diverse community that is rich in culture. Previously, young Maasai’s known as Morans (age between 13-30 years) were expected to express their power by killing a lion. Recently, in 2012 four lions attacked a Maasai homestead and the courageous Morans killed the four beasts with their spears. These young men are not allowed to marry until later in life. Morans are treated with special status because they act as defense team to the children, women and the elderly. They involve in cattle rustling to increase the number of their herd.
A simple delicacy among the Maasai include on blood, meat and milk. On some of the circumstances blood is drunk by the sick, women who have given birth and the circumcised. It’s always a wonder how the raw blood doesn’t affect these Maasai. Their medicine men are well known of making the traditional medicine using the herbs.
Their small houses known as manyattas, are barely more than 5ft tall. Women are responsible of making these houses. Due to their nomadic culture, the manyatta are temporary structures made with wood post covered with mud. The mud is then plastered with cow dung and ash. Inside the manyatta you’ll find at most four rooms. The first belong to their cattle’s calves. This protects them from dangerous animals like the hyena. In addition it also prevents the calves from suckling all the milk. The second room belongs to the children and the wives. Third room is where the husband sleeps. The last room is the kitchen and dining room.
The community allows men to be polygamous. In one case in Tanzania, near the Ngorongoro crater, the area chief had 55 wives. The number of wives one has is an indication of power, good leadership and wealth.
To them cattle are sacred and a direct treasurers from the heavens. Grass is also considered a blessing and sacred. When passing a fig tree, it is customary for the Maasai to push handfuls of grass between the roots, as homage to the source of their herds. One of the more common Maasai greetings is “I hope your cattle are well”.

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