The Maasai Community of Kenya

The Maasai

The Maasai community are a Nilotic tribe ethnic to the southern parts of Kenya and the northern parts of Tanzania. They are a semi nomadic warrior tribe who are best known by the local people for their tendencies to reside near game parks and game reserves and for their distinctive way of life and dressing.

They Maasai speak a language known as Maa a member of the Nilo-saharan Language that is also ethnic to the Nuer and Dinka. They have also been educated in the official languages of both Tanzania and Kenya namely Kiswahili and English.

The Maasai
Both the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments have instituted programs with the aim of encouraging the Maasai to leave their traditional lifestyle. However, the Maasai have remained adamant about their semi-nomadic lifestyle and refuse to change it. Lately, Oxfam has made claims that the Maasai culture should be embraced responding to climate change since the Maasai are able to farm in scrublands and deserts.
According to the oral history of the Maasai, they originated from the lower Valley of the Nile that is just north of Lake Turkana. They started migrating south during the 15th century and settled in the large expanse that is southern Kenya and central Tanzania. Most ethnic groups that had already settled there were forced to resettle in other areas. Others were assimilated into the Maasai tradition like the Cushites and these assimilations produced tribes like the Samburu and Kalenjin.
The Maasai are strongly Patriarchal in nature. This means that the men usually make the major decisions for the tribe. These men are made up of mostly of the elder men who are believed to be wise and good decision makers. They have a full body of law that governs their whole aspect of behavior. There is nothing like formal execution. Payment is done in form of herd of cattle.

maasai-herd
All of the sources of food for the Maasai are met by their cattle. They indulge in meat, drink the milk produced by the cows and in some occasions drink the blood of the animals. During celebrations, they slaughter bulls, oxen and lambs for meat. Though their lifestyle is mainly dependent of cattle, lately, they have adopted other sources of food such as sorghum and rice.
Their mode of clothing varies with the age of the person. For instance, young men wear black for a long period after they have undergone circumcision. However, red is the most prevalent colour.

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