The Maasai People

The Maasai

Over the past years, the world has changed so drastically with most countries been marked by skyscrapers, new technology and an ever demanding economy. The traditions that we came from continue to fade with the coming generations having little or no history to read or see with their own eyes. The human population has also contributed to wiping out the natural beauty to create space for development of industries and living apartments.

So if one would want to see nature at its best and see some of the world’s most conserved traditions where would be the best place to visit?

One such place is in Kenya, Africa. It is in the Great Rift Valley region where you will find the Maasai people. These are people who migrated from the Sudanese Nile into Kenya in the 18th century. They were pastoralists who had a reputation of being fearsome warriors and were avoided by the European explorers and slave caravans. The European settlers needed land for farming and brought epidemics which wiped the large herds of Maasai cattle. Some of this land is now the game reserves which harbor the wildlife animals such as the Big Five, species of birds among other wildlife animals.

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The amazing thing about the Maasai people is how they have managed to conserve their tradition as you will see.

The Maasai people are conspicuous from their attire, the ‘Shuka’ a red rode, and slipper-like shoes made of leather, and sometimes rubber from old car tyres. The tyre slippers last long and prevent their feet from been pierced by thorns from the vegetation that grows in their habitats. Their hair is reddened with ochre dye styled in a manner that looks like the Roman helmet. They decorate themselves using multicolored jewellery, the women look beautiful with bare heads and large colorful beaded jewellery around their necks.

Unlike other people who measure their wealth in terms of assets and property they own, the Maasai people measure their wealth in terms of the children and cattle herds. In the Maasai tradition every teenage boy must undergo initiation by circumcision before being accepted as an ‘ilmoran’ (warrior). The ritual is perform without modern medical anesthetic and should the initiate cry out, the ceremony planned to be performed after the ritual is cancelled and he will be rejected by his peers for several years before being allowed back.

The Maasai people rely on their cattle herds for food. Blood is drained painlessly and harmlessly from a nick and fermented in a calabash (made from a pod of a sausage tree) for several days before being drunk. The Maasai people seldom eat beef as they consider living cattle more valuable than a dead one. Though in special occasions a cow will be slaughtered, grilled and eaten with immense relish.

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The Maasai people have also preserved one of the most interesting old practices of lighting a fire by rubbing two ticks together furiously until they spark. Using dry grass and fine cattle dung, they can light a fire.
There houses are called Manyatta, they first create a frame of strong sticks which is then plastered with smooth mud. The Manyatta’s are constructed by women.

The Maasai people have a lot to teach and show visitors who tour there homesteads. Most catching is the Maasai dance where individual’s skill is measured by how high the dancer can jump. Women also choose their husband during these dances. The highest jumper is perceived as strong and capable of protecting his family