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Africa’s Maasai Tribe: Culture & Traditions of the People

On the huge continent of Africa, there are a number of totally different tribes of individuals, a lot of that are nonetheless dwelling in a manner that’s loyal to its personal conventional customs. Considered one of these is the Maasai tribe and while you go on an African safari in Tanzania it’s doable to pay a go to to their land to have a firsthand peek at their life-style.

Alongside the safari routes on my journeys to Tanzania with Shadows of Africa, I noticed the Maasai folks dozens of instances. Their blue and crimson frocks gave them away each time. Not solely are they scattered all through the primary roads, principally herding their cattle. Their villages are additionally sporadically unfold on the lengthy stretches of land. However, what’s Maasai tradition all about?

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Who’re the Maasai Folks & Historical past

The Maasai tribe is a semi-nomadic ethnic group from East Africa, principally settled in northern Tanzania and Kenya. Their spoken language is Maa, derived from Nilotic languages, most particularly falling below the class of Japanese Nilotic.

In keeping with their very own oral historical past, their tribe originated close to Lake Turkana, an East African lake positioned principally in Kenya’s territory. Their migration to their present territory occurred between the 17th and 18th centuries. They’ve been recognized throughout historical past as formidable warriors and hunters, though elevating cattle has been, and nonetheless is, their principal exercise.

By the mid-19th century, they’d grown to their largest in dimension and territory. Nevertheless, sadly the final twenty years of the 19th century worn out greater than half of the tribe – in accordance with estimations – as a consequence of a mixture of smallpox, drought and hunger, the latter of which was introduced on by practically all of their cattle dying from an animal illness known as rinderpest.

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Then the 20th century got here alongside and turned a lot of what was often called Maasai territory into wildlife reserves and nationwide parks. This additionally led to the federal government starting to stress the tribe to surrender their conventional semi-nomadic life-style revolving round herding, in favor of adopting a extra settled and sedentary life-style of farming. Nevertheless, aside from some distinctive circumstances of Maasai individuals who moved into town to get educated, to this date the tribe has remained persistent of their pursuit of their conventional way of life.

Maasai Warrior

As I already briefly talked about, apart from elevating and herding cattle, the Maasai tribe additionally has a protracted withstanding historical past as warriors. Their warrior caste is known as il-murran of their native Maa language, with a brand new group of troopers, from the age teams of 12 to 25, getting fashioned each 15 years or so.

There’s a strict coaching interval they have to bear, concluding in quite a lot of initiation rites, amongst which a very powerful one is circumcision. This ceremony is carried out with conventional devices, with out anesthetics, as a consequence of their perception that the power resist ache is an integral a part of these younger warriors’ transition from boy to man.

Changing into a Maasai warrior is a supply of nice satisfaction for the boys of the tribe. Along with offering safety for his or her households, a Maasai warrior’s obligation lies in defending their animals from predators, each animal and human. In addition they construct kraals, that are Maasai properties.

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Maasai Tribe Tradition

Maasai Properties

Because the Maasai tribe is accustomed to transferring each Three to Four years, after the pastures of their present location has been used up, their huts are constructed from small branches and brushwood, lined by manure, clay, mud and dry cattle dung, with the intention of the house solely lasting for a short lived time frame.

These properties are simply identifiable by the small cluster of cow dung huts with straw roofs. There are not any home windows, however there’s sometimes a hearth. Animal skins on high of the mud ground function their sleeping place. It’s usually the ladies’s job to construct these huts, additionally carrying the fabric wanted for it on their shoulders from one place of dwelling to a different.

Throughout my visits with the Maasai, I used to be in a position to tour two of those properties, which had been made fully by the ladies of the tribe. The interiors consisted of two to a few tiny rooms, sometimes one for the husband and spouse, one for the kids and the primary space was a kitchen. It was very darkish since there have been no home windows and every of the rooms couldn’t have been bigger than 5’x6′.

The bedrooms had been principally vacant apart from the blue tarps that lined the flooring. The “kitchens” had dust flooring and had been solely outfitted with a requirements, like ceramic mugs, teapots, plastic bowls and towels.

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The Significance of Cattle to the Maasai Folks

One of many causes that the Maasai’s cattle maintain a lot worth as a result of it’s a type of forex, being traded for an array of products. One more reason is as a result of it’s their principal supply of meals and sources—pores and skin and leather-based is used for shields and bedding, whereas dung is smeared on the partitions of the homes. However past that, they’ve a real and deep relationship with their cattle, withholding the idea that it’s their obligation to deal with all of the cattle on the earth. As such, they lean into their semi-nomadic life-style in the hunt for pastures with meals and water for the cattle.

It’s also believed among the many tribe, in addition to another African ethnic teams, {that a} man’s wealth is measured by the amount of their wives, kids and cattle.

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Maasai Meals, Drink & Food plan

On the heart of the Maasai tribe’s eating regimen is milk, meat and ingesting the blood of their cattle. Although their cattle is the primary supply of nourishment, different animals like goats and lambs could also be often eaten.

Consuming Cattle Blood / / On particular events or to assist with nourishment throughout therapeutic, they can even drink the blood of their cattle that’s acquired by nicking the jugular vein. That is very true are the circumcision of younger boys.

Maasai Faith

Their conventional perception system is monotheistic, with their god carrying the identify Engai, and having manifested in two kinds: the benevolent black god and the vengeful crimson god. Laibon, much like a priest or a shaman, is the faith’s most necessary determine, with a job of therapeutic and prophecy, amongst others. At this time, among the Maasai tribe are Christian and so they even have a Muslim minority.

Maasai Songs and Leaping Dance

In conventional Maasai music, there’s an olaranyani, who’s the track chief and in control of singing the melody of the track. They start singing the namba of the track, which is a call-and-response sample, and a refrain will reply in concord.

Dance can be a giant a part of the Maasai tradition. They’re recognized for his or her dance which resembles leaping, sometimes carried out by warriors.

Throughout every of my visits had been had been instantly welcomed by the residents with a full of life dance, which consisted of chanting together with the lads leaping excessive and the ladies performing in a rhythmic bouncing movement. I used to be introduced into the middle of the group to take part into this custom, which confirmed I’ve no rhythm, even in relation to merely arising and down.

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Maasai Clothes

Beforehand, a lot of Maasai folks’s clothes was made from animal skins. Nevertheless, right now the everyday manner of apparel are shuka, a sheet of cloth wrapped across the physique, usually the colour of crimson or blue. It’s additionally widespread for them to put on lots of beaded jewellery round their neck and arms. Ear piercings and stretching of earlobes are seen as lovely by the tribe members, and thus many, each women and men, put on metallic hoops on their stretched earlobes.

Other than crimson and blue, younger males who’ve simply been circumcised will generally put on black, whereas ladies usually like to decorate in checked, striped or different patterned items of clothes.

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Maasai Ladies

The ladies truly do many of the work inside of every village, whereas the lads are in control of creating wealth, with their herds of cattle and being the soldiers. The Maasai ladies certainly not have a straightforward life. They marry younger, have many kids and are accountable for lots of the exhausting labor.

The tribe’s stay a polygamist life-style, the extra wives the chief has, the extra revered he’s. And the extra wives, the much less work every one is accountable for, so we had been advised that lots of the ladies didn’t thoughts when one other woman was introduced into their group.

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Study extra concerning the Maasai ladies:

As you’ve gotten learn right here, the Maasai tribe tradition and its folks have a protracted withstanding historical past, one that may nonetheless be seen in practically full impact right now.

If you wish to learn extra concerning the Maasai, there are various autobiographical books available on the market. however, two of the highest ones are Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna and Among the Maasai.

This expertise was offered in collaboration with Shadows of Africa.
All opinions my very own. This publish might include affiliate hyperlinks. You possibly can learn my disclosure here.

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