The Maasai Tribe
Whenever most of us talk about Africa we imagine Bush people and half naked people who live with wild animals. Africa isn’t like that anymore, a lot of civilization but still, there are tribes that seem to be stuck in the old days.
The Maasai tribe are and an indigenous group of semi-nomadic people that are residing in Northern Tanzania and Kenya. As a result of their distinct dress, traditions and customs and their homes near the numerous national game parks of East Africa, these people are among the foremost African groups that are known all over the world.
This tribe dates back centuries; they originated from the north of Lake Turkana in the lower Nile Valley. In the 15th century, they started to migrate towards the south and came to a long trunk of land that stretched across Northern Tanzania and Kenya in the 17th and 18th century. The size of the tribe was at its peak in the 19th century when they covered most of the adjacent lands firm Mount Marsabit and Dodoma and the Great Rift Valley.
In the early days, the Maasai people raided cattle across the East at Tanga Coast in Tanzania. They used to use spears and shields and were famous for throwing orinka which were weird kind of clubs and could be thrown from long distances (about 100 meters).
The Maasai, traditionally a nomadic people, have conventionally relied on promptly accessible materials and indigenous technology to make their interesting and unusual housing. The old-fashioned Maasai house was planned for people on travel and so their homes are very impermanent in nature. The Inkajijik (houses) are either loaf shaped or circular and are constructed by women.
Their villages are enclosed in a circular Enkang (fence) constructed by the men and that protects their cattle at night from the wild animals.
The Maasai are chiefly cattle breeders, eating milk and meat that they harvest themselves. Cattle products are an essential part of the Maasai nourishment, with other farm animals for example sheep being more for special events than day to day use.
In fact, traditional Maasai culture rotates closely about the tribe’s cattle herds. The degree of a man’s worth is calculated in the number of cattle he has and the number of children he fathers, with the second depending profoundly on the former.
The Maasai society is a male-controlled (no shocker there) one in which groups of male elders classically agree on vital issues regarding the community.
The warrior caste among the Maasai culture is one of the world renowned and respected. These brave men are provided many privileges such as being able to marry and to wear their hair long.
The Maasai believe in one God, “Engai”. He is the God of two facets, one vengeful and the other kind. Among tribal groups, a “Laibon” (spiritual leader) supervises troubles of spirituality, though he has no spot of power when it comes to deciding matters of tribal significance.
Maasai boys may have many duties, but they are also every bit as adventurous and mischievous as children around the world.
Every 15 years or so, a new group of warriors is commenced from the boys aged between twelve and twenty-five. These boys will endure ritual circumcision and a type of exile that makes sure that all initiated boys travel far from the village for a duration of months while they mature and heal into men.
These young warriors are principally adults now irrespective of their age and are anticipated to make a greater input into the village life and begin passing themselves as men.
At the same instance, the previous group of warriors will ‘graduate’ into becoming junior elders in their community.
For Maasai people living an outdated way of life, the end of life is practically without a formal funeral ceremony, and the dead bodies are left out on the grounds for scavengers. Burial has in the past been earmarked for great chiefs only, as it is thought by the Maasai that burial is damaging to the soil.
Conventionally, the Maasai music encompasses of rhythms purified by a chorus of vocalists singing harmonies, during all that the olaranyani (the song leader) sings the melody. The olaranyani is generally the person who can superlative sing that song. The olaranyani then begins singing the namba of a song and the group retorts with one unanimous call in a nod. The women perform lullabies, pulsate songs and sing music that is tributes to their sons.
One elision to the vocal creation of Maasai music is the purpose of the horn of the Greater Kudu to call morans (initiates) for the Eunoto ritual (a coming of age ceremony). The ceremony generally lasts 10 or more days. And the dancing and singing around the manyattas involve flirting. Young men will chant and line and the women stand in front of the men and sing in harmony to them. Contemporary Hip Hop artists from the Northern part of Tanzania are now combining traditional Maasai chants, rhytms and beats into their music.
Government policies centering on the preservation of their national reserves and parks, with the segregation of the culturally rich Maasai tribe, have now made the outmoded Maasai way of life progressively difficult to preserve and maintain for the upcoming generations to learn about and experience.
During previous years, schemes have been executed to help Maasai tribal leaders discover a way to preserve their customs and ways of life while also trying to settle the education needs of the Maasai children for the contemporary world.
Many Maasai people have moved away from their nomadic way of life to positions in government roles and business commerce. Yet in spite of the modernized urban lifestyle they lead, many Maasai’ still cheerfully head towards home clothed in designer brands, only to appear from the customary lands wearing their traditionally, cowhide sandals, colourful shuka and with a wooden orinka in their grasp at ease with the world and themselves.
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