THE MAASAI TRIBE
Added on: 25th Jul 2014
There are an estimated one million Maasai living in Kenya and Tanzania.
They are perhaps one of the best known people of Africa due to the fact
that they have a very interesting culture and that they live near many of
Africa's most popular tourist attractions like the Serengeti, Massai Mara,
Ngorongoro, Amboseli, and Tarangire game reserves.
Cattle play an important role in Maasai life.
It is their primary source of food.
A man's wealth is measured in terms of how many cattle
he owns and children he has.
The Maasai believe God has given them all the cattle in the world.
This makes cattle rustling a matter of taking back what belongs to them.
The Maasai are semi-nomadic which is a result of their raising
cattle and the need to find new grazing land.
The Maasai have a patriarchal society.
The important matters of each group are decided by elder men.
Maasai families live in an enclosure called a Enkang which
typically contains ten to twenty small huts.
The enclosure is protected by a fence or bushes with sharp thorns.
Maasai huts are very small, with usually only one or two rooms
and not high enough for these tall people to stand.
The Maasai believe in one god named Enkai or Engai.
He has a duel nature; one called Engai Narok (Black God) who is
benevolent, and the other Engai Nanyokie (Red God) who is vengeful.
An Engai drawing
Traditionally these people of Africa do not bury their dead.
Burials are believed to harm the soil and is reserved only for some chiefs.
Most dead bodies are simply left outside for scavengers.
The Maasai tribe speaks Maa and are also schooled in English and
Swahili (the official languages of Tanzania and Kenya).
The piercing and stretching of earlobes is a common
practice of the Maasai.
In the mid 1800's the Maasai territory reached its greatest size.
It covered almost all of the Great Rift Valley and several other adjacent lands.
Many Maasai have become Christian, and a fewer amount
have become Muslim.
There is an extensive oral law that covers many
aspects of Maasai behavior.
It is widely believed the Massai people originated in the Nile valley.
It is believed these people of Africa left the Nile Valley in the
15th or 16th century reaching their current home in the
Great Rift Valley around the 17th or 18th century.