5 Fascinating Facts About The Maasai People : Maasai people are one of the most famous tribe found in Kenya and Tanzania known for having unique traditions and cultures which have not been destructed by modernity and technology. Maasai are semi – nomadic pastoral indigenous tribe with ancestral territory stretching across southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Maasai communities live in areas lieing within the bounds of popular game reserve and parks including Maasai Mara national reserve, Ngorongoro conservation Area, and Amboseli national park and among others.
The Maasai have a rich and fascinating culture that is fascinating to witness during your African safari to Kenya and Tanzania, here are a few interesting aspects of the Maasai people and their culture, 5 Fascinating Facts About The Maasai People .
IN THE MAASAI CULTURE, COWS ARE WEALTH.
The Maasai culture and lifestyle is centered around cattle, traditionally the Maasai people and their lifestyle is centered around cattle and they believe that their God called Engai or Enkai in the Maa language created cattle especially for them. The Maasai people believe that they are the custodians of all the world’s cattle, this is the reason to why they carryout cattle rustling – raiding each and every cattle they find.
The life of the Maasai revolves around amassing and grazing large herds of cattle and to a lesser extent they graze goats to, cattle are the primary source of income to the Maasai. The livestock is traded for other products or cash, cows also play an important role in the communal life of the Maasai people as families and clans establish alliances through the exchange of cattle. Also consuming the meat and milk of cows is considered a sacred act as it binds them to their creator Ngai.
MAASAI HAVE LONG EMPLOYED A “GREEN” APPROACH TO LAND MANAGEMENT.
To manage their lands, the Maasai have employed a green approach. For hundreds of years before the formation game parks and reserves for the purpose of environment and wildlife conservation, the Maasai people moved and grazed their herds throughout the plains of Rift Valley without causing damages to the land and wildlife inhabiting there.
The Maasai people did this mainly by migrating seasonally across the region, this gave the land plenty of time to recover before cycling back to graze their cattle in it again. Since the diet of the Maasai traditionally relies on the milk, blood and meat got from their livestock, the hunting of the wildlife in the area was limited and non-disruptive to the larger ecosystem.
LION-HUNTING IS A TRADITIONAL – MAASAI RITE OF PASSAGE
Though no longer practiced, in the past decades the Maasai used to practice lion – hunting as a tradition for the Maasai Rite of passage, through this rite the young Maasai men proved themselves as warriors (morani) with the ritual killing of a lion either single- handedly or in a group and they had to do this using their iron spears or weapons.
For the Maasai rite of passage, only male lions were hunted and they are referred to as “ala – mayo”, this was son because female lions were considered progenitors of life. This ritual of lion-hunting was outlawed in East Africa and it is no longer practiced, today the Maasai will only be allowed to kill a lion if it is threatening their livestock. Though the fierce bravery of the Morani is still revered today.
MAASAI DRESS IS BEAUTIFULLY DISTINCTIVE (AND MUCH COPIED)
Maasai people are known for their beauty, from their lithe, graceful physiques and their unique grab and body ornamentation. However the most iconic Maasai garment known as the Shuka is the most famous attire of the Maasai and their dressing style, the Shuka is a woven, thick cotton blanket usually red with a strip or checked pattern in blue or black which is worn by wrapping it around the body, 5 Fascinating Facts About The Maasai People
Though the Shula isn’t traditional, in the historical sense it is only replaced animals –skin clothing around the 1960s and is purchased rather than made by tribes people. Now the Shuka is worn by almost all Maasai across East Africa and this signature garment has been widely emulated by modern fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton, also many high – end jewellery designers have taken inspiration from Maasai jewellery particularly the intricately beaded, brightly colored necklace and bracelets which are worn by both men and women.
IT’S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAT MAASAI IN A JUMPING CONTEST
Maasai people are known for having strong legs which are good at jumping and it nearly impossible to be them, the Maasai people continuously practice jumping during their many singing and dancing ceremonies hosted throughout their life. The best known ceremony the adamu “jumping dance”, in this ritual, young Maasai men gather in a semi circle while rhythmically chanting in unison, then each takes a turn stepping in front of the group and jumping several times straight up in the air as high as he can.
The adamu is usually accompanied by high – energy whoops and is carefully observedby Maasai women standing nearby, the dancing is seen as a show for strength for young Maasai warriors hoping to attract wives.
Travelers on a Kenya safari always get an opportunity to witness and be thrilled by the display and some even try to get involved in jumping dance themselves though very few can approach the heights reached by the warriors.
While on a Kenya safari make it appoint to visit the Maasai Communities which are found along Kenya’s protected areas such as Amboseli national reserve, Maasai Mara national reserve among others in Kenya and Serengeti national park in Tanzania.