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

On the large continent of Africa, there are a number of totally different tribes of individuals, a lot of that are nonetheless dwelling in a approach 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 way of life.

Alongside the safari routes on my journeys to Tanzania with Shadows of Africa, I noticed the Maasai individuals dozens of occasions. Their blue and pink frocks gave them away each time. Not solely are they scattered all through the primary roads, largely 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 Individuals & Historical past

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

Based on their very own oral historical past, their tribe originated close to Lake Turkana, an East African lake positioned largely 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 essential exercise.

By the mid-19th century, that they had grown to their largest in measurement and territory. Nonetheless, sadly the final 20 years of the 19th century worn out greater than half of the tribe – in accordance with estimations – because of a mixture of smallpox, drought and hunger, the latter of which was introduced on by almost 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 way of life revolving round herding, in favor of adopting a extra settled and sedentary way of life of farming. Nonetheless, other than 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, moreover elevating and herding cattle, the Maasai tribe additionally has an extended 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 shaped each 15 years or so.

There’s a strict coaching interval they need to endure, 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, because 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 responsibility lies in defending their animals from predators, each animal and human. Additionally they construct kraals, that are Maasai houses.

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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 brief time period.

These houses are simply identifiable by the small cluster of cow dung huts with straw roofs. There aren’t any home windows, however there may be sometimes a hearth. Animal skins on prime of the mud flooring 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 houses, which have been made solely 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 youngsters 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 have been largely vacant moreover the blue tarps that lined the flooring. The “kitchens” had grime flooring and have been solely geared up with a requirements, like ceramic mugs, teapots, plastic bowls and towels.

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The Significance of Cattle to the Maasai Individuals

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. Another excuse is as a result of it’s their essential 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 responsibility to care for all of the cattle on the planet. As such, they lean into their semi-nomadic way of life 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, youngsters and cattle.

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Maasai Meals, Drink & Eating regimen

On the middle of the Maasai tribe’s food 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 will 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 types: the benevolent black god and the vengeful pink god. Laibon, just like a priest or a shaman, is the faith’s most vital determine, with a job of therapeutic and prophecy, amongst others. At present, among the Maasai tribe are Christian and so they even have a Muslim minority.

Maasai Songs and Leaping Dance

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

Dance can be an enormous 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 have been have been instantly welcomed by the residents with a energetic 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 on the subject of merely coming up and down.

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This video is from one in every of my visits and there’s plenty of the Maasai leaping dance occurring!

Maasai Clothes

Beforehand, a lot of Maasai individuals’s clothes was product of animal skins. Nonetheless, in the present day the everyday approach of apparel are shuka, a sheet of material wrapped across the physique, usually the colour of pink or blue. It’s additionally frequent for them to put on numerous 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 pink and blue, younger males who’ve simply been circumcised will generally put on black, whereas girls usually like to decorate in checked, striped or different patterned items of clothes.

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Maasai Girls

The ladies really do many of the work inside of every village, whereas the lads are in command of creating wealth, with their herds of cattle and being the soldiers. The Maasai girls on no account have a straightforward life. They marry younger, have many youngsters and are accountable for lots of the laborious labor.

The tribe’s dwell a polygamist way of life, the extra wives the chief has, the extra revered he’s. And the extra wives, the much less work each is liable for, so we have been advised that lots of the girls didn’t thoughts when one other woman was introduced into their group.

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Study extra concerning the Maasai girls:

As you’ve got learn right here, the Maasai tribe tradition and its individuals have an extended withstanding historical past, one that may nonetheless be seen in almost full impact in the present day.

If you wish to learn extra concerning the Maasai, there are lots of autobiographical books in the marketplace. 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 put up might comprise affiliate hyperlinks. You possibly can learn my disclosure here.

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