All you need to know about The Maasai Community, kenya

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All you need to know about The Maasai Community, kenya

A journey begins with a step, First things first, you need to know the History of the Maasai Community


According to the tribe's own oral history, the Maasai originated north of Lake Turkana (north-west Kenya) in the lower Nile Valley. They began migrating south in the 15th century and arrived in the long trunk of land stretching across central Tanzania and Northern Kenya during the 17th and 18 century. The Maasai territory reached its most dominant size in the 19 century when they covered most of the Great Rift Valley and adjacent lands from Dodoma and Mount Marsabit.

At this time the Maasai raided cattle far across the east at Tanga Coast in Tanzania. They used shields and spears, but were most feared for throwing orinka (clubs) which could be expertly thrown from up to 70 paces (approximately 100 meters).

The report of concentrated Maasai warriors told of their moving to Kenya in 1852, after depopulating the Wakuafi Wilderness in southeastern Kenya, the Maasai warriors threatened Mombasa, on Kenya's coast.

The result of this migration lead to the Maasai now being the southernmost Nilotic speakers.

The Maasai 'Emutai' of 1883-1902 came after the time of expanding. This period was scarred by epidemics of smallpox, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and rinderpest. The estimated 90 per cent of cattle and half of wild species perished from rinderpest. This drastic period coincided with drought. The rains neglected the lands completely in 1897 and 1898.Commencing with a 1904 treaty and followed by another treaty in 1911, Maasai lands in Kenya were cut down by 60 percent when the British evicted them to allow space for settler ranches thus confining the Maasai people to present-day Narok and Kajiado districts. Maasai in Tanzania were forced out from their fertile lands between Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru and most of their fertile mountainous regions near the Ngorongoro in the 1940s. More land was claimed to create national parks and wildlife reserves. Masai Mara, Samburu, Ngorongoro, Amboseli, Nairobi National Park, the Serengeti, Lake Nakuru, Manyara and Tarangire.

Maasai are traditionalist and have resisted the urging of the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to adopt a more modern lifestyle. The Maasai have rightfully demanded pasturing and grazing rights to several of the national parks in both Tanzania and Kenya.

The Maasai tribe stood firm against slavery and lived alongside most of the land's wild animals with an aversion to eating birds and game. Maasai land now boasts East Africa's finest nature and wildlife areas.

Maasai Shelter

The Maasai, historically a nomadic people, have traditionally relied on readily available materials and indigenous technology to construct their unusual and interesting housing. The traditional Maasai house was designed for people on the move and thus their houses were very impermanent in nature. The Inkajijik (houses) are either circular or loaf-shaped, and are made by women. 

Their villages are enveloped in a circular Enkang (fence) built by the men and this protects their cattle at night from wild animals.

Maasai Culture

Maasai society is firmly patriarchal in nature, with elder Maasai men sometimes joined by retired elders, determining most major matters for the Maasai tribes. The Maasai people are monotheistic, and their God is named Engai or Enkai.

For Maasai people living a traditional way of life, the end of life is virtually without a formal funeral ceremony, and the dead are left out in the fields for scavengers. Burial has in the past been reserved for great chiefs only, since it is believed by the Maasai that burial is harmful to the soil.

Traditional Maasai people's lifestyle concentrates on their cattle which make up the primary source of food. Amongst the Maasai and several other African ethnic groups, the measure of a man's wealth is in terms of children and cattle. So the more the better.

A man who has plenty cattle but not many children is considered to be poor and vice versa. A Maasai myth says that God afforded them all the cattle on earth, resulting in the belief that rustling from other tribes is a matter of claiming what is rightfully theirs, a practice that has now become much less common.

The Maasai Community is arguably one of the most interesting cultures to study and interact with, and also among those that have remained strong to their customs, even with the influence of the Westerners and Education.

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