The Top 10 Interesting Facts To Know About The Maasai Tribe : The Maasai are a remarkable race with an even more remarkable culture. They have been residing in certain regions of Tanzania and Kenya for many years, and they continue to graze their prized cattle there today.
The Maasai can be traced back hundreds of years to simpler times and ancient lands. However, the way they live today continues to reflect both their past and present. The Maasai people have a distinctive culture, and some people find their traditions objectionable. Due to their distinctive traditions, customs, and attire, as well as their proximity to many of East Africa’s safari game parks, they are one of the most prominent African tribes and are well-known on a global scale.
HOW DO YOU SEE AND EXPERIENCE THE MAASAI ON YOUR EAST AFRICA SAFARI?
Meeting the Maasai, an indigenous pastoral semi-nomadic tribe whose ancestral territory spans southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, is a highlight for many tourists from Focus East Africa Tours. Many of the camps and lodges we use for our safaris employ them as guides and staff members because many of their communities border or are located inside the boundaries of well-known game preserves, such as Maasai Mara, Ngorongoro, and Amboseli. Visitors on safaris frequently visit their villages or come across them in the savannah, with men herding cattle and women carrying water or firewood.
However, the Maasai have a rich and intriguing culture that predates safari travel and continues to exist today. Here are some particularly fascinating features of that culture:
Many things about the Maa society before European exploration are unknown because they lack a clear written history. However, it is thought that the Maasai originated in the Nile Valley, north of Lake Turkana (northwest Kenya). During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, they moved southward and eventually arrived on the East African plains in Tanzania and northern Kenya. The Maasai population increased in the 19th century as they moved into the Great Rift Valley and the surrounding area.
In contrast to the Bantu origin languages of the majority of other ethnic groups in East Africa, the Maasai speak the Nilo-Saharan language of Maa. “One who speaks the Maa language” is referred to by the term “Maasai.” Maa is in danger of dying out because it is primarily a spoken language. The Bible has been translated into Maasai, though, and there is a Maasai dictionary. Swahili and English, the official languages of Tanzania and Kenya, are also spoken by many Maasai.
Learn some Maa language basics:
- Greeting for men: Supai
- Reply to Supai: Ipa
- Greeting for women: Takwenya
- Reply to Takwenya: Iko
- Are you well, Errabioto?
- I am well, Arrabioto
- Thank you: Ashe
- What is your name? Kai ijii?
The Maasai hut, or Inkajijik in the Maa language, is constructed by Maasai women. They construct the walls with sticks and a mixture of cow dung and mud, and the roof is made of grass and additional sticks. The huts are typically circular, very compact, and low, with only one or two rooms most of the time.
Maasai dress differently depending on their region, age, and sex (just like westerners). For several months following their circumcision ceremony, young men, for instance, will don black clothing. Generally speaking, the Maasai prefer the colors red, black, and blue. These colors are frequently used in checkerboard and striped patterns on the shuka, the cloth used to wrap around the body. Males and females alike favor jewelry made of multicolored beads. Before the Maasai had easier access to woven fabric in the 1960s, the majority of their clothing was made of calf and sheepskin.
- The Maasai Calendar
There is no common reference point for the traditional Maasai calendar. It has twelve months, just like the Gregorian calendar, but there are only three seasons: Nkokua (the long rains), Oloirurujuruj (the rainy season), and Oltumuret (the short rains). The month names are extremely evocative. As an illustration, Kujorok, the second month of the wet season, means “The whole countryside is beautifully green, and the pasture lands are likened to a hairy caterpillar.”
The Maasai calendar lacks explicitly designated holidays, but ceremonial feasts for circumcision, excision, and marriage provide opportunities for joyous community celebrations that could be compared to holidays. As well as celebrating secular state holidays like Labor Day (May 1) in Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai also do so.
- Wealth (Gender-Based)
Cows are a major source of food for the Maasai, who also use cow dung to construct the walls and roofs of their Inkajijik and cowhide for clothing and mattresses. So, like many other African ethnic groups, cattle are used as a proxy for a man’s wealth. Having a lot of livestock enhances your standing in the community and earns you respect and admiration. Maasai men gather cows for the majority of their adult lives. Being a parent is another indication of status. A man is regarded as poor if he has a large number of cattle but few children, and vice versa.
- Naming of Children
Maasai will not name a child before they turn three months old because infant mortality is high in their community. After that, a ceremony known as Enkipukonoto Eaji (meaning “coming out of the seclusion period”) is planned. The mother and child are segregated prior to the ceremony and allowed to let their hair grow long. It is removed during the ceremony to represent the child’s new beginning.
- Drinking Blood
The Maasai drink raw cow blood because it is a respectable custom. It is frequently saved for special events like when a woman gives birth or when young men are circumcised. Elders also consume blood to ward off or cure hangovers.
Maasai people have always practiced monotheism. They worship a single deity known as Enkai or Engai. As their contact with the larger East African culture has increased, many Maasai have converted to Christianity, while others have chosen to convert to Islam.
- End Of Life Beliefs
Due to a long-held belief that burial damages the soil, the Maasai used to avoid burying their dead. Death is the culmination of the human journey and a chance to return to the earth. As a result, the corpse is left exposed in the bushes for scavengers. Only great chiefs received a formal funeral service and burial. Modern Maasai, on the other hand, bury their dead.
- They are masters of conservation.
Longtime users of a “green” method of land management are the Maasai. Before game parks were formally established as a means of environmental conservation, the Maasai moved and grazed their herds throughout the Rift Valley for hundreds of years without endangering the region or its native wildlife. They mainly accomplished this by migrating across vast swaths of land on a seasonal basis, giving the land plenty of time to recover before returning to graze it once more. The tribe’s limited game hunting was non-disruptive to the larger ecosystem because their traditional diet also relies on the milk, blood, and meat of their livestock.
- Their unique and fascinating dancing style
In a jumping competition, Maasai are nearly impossible to defeat. The adamu, or jumping dance, is unquestionably the most well-known of the Maasai people’s many singing and dancing rituals. In this ritual, young Maasai men form a semicircle and chant rhythmically together. Then, one by one, they each step forward in front of the group and jump as high as they can several times. The adamu serves as a display of strength for young Maasai warriors hoping to win the attention of wives. It is typically accompanied by loud whoops, which Maasai women watching from a distance carefully observe. Travelers on African safaris are frequently mesmerized by the performance, and some even try the jumping dance themselves.
Many Focus East Africa Tour’s safari itineraries include visits to Maasai communities and education about their fascinating culture. Therefore, if you are considering a Tanzania and Kenya safari, don’t forget to stop by a Maasai village and learn about their long-standing customs. Tanzanian destinations are not just about visiting the national parks; they also involve learning about the magical nation’s history, cuisine, and culture.
To get the most out of your next Tanzania safari, plan it with Focus East Africa Tours. Contact a Focus East Africa Tours Specialist right away to learn more.