Maasai are an indigenous group from East Africa living in Southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley in the semi-arid and desert lands. They belongs in the Nilotic family which include the Kalenjin, Samburu, Nuer and Dinka among others.
The Maasai’s inhibit an estimated land area of over 150,000 square kilometers with a population of about 900, 000.
The Maa Language
Maasai were actually named after their language ‘Maa’ which is widely spoken by the Nilo-Saharan family. Hence, a Maasai is defined as a person who speaks the Maa. The tribe has also a dictionary for their language and also have a Bible translation in Maa.
Maasai’s also speak Kenyan and Tanzanian official language ;The Swahili and English.
The popular nomads have totally relied on ready made and available material to make their shelters. They make their own Inkajijik or rather kraals and secure their compound from wild animals like lions by placing acacia thorns on the perimeter. Women build the Inkajijik while men ensure it is secured. The houses are usually circular or loaf-like shaped. They are made from mud, sticks, grass, cow dung, and cow urine.
The Maasai’s clothing
Maasai’s have their own unique traditional wardrobe that vary by sex, age and place. Maasai wear shukas which they wrap around their bodies and spice it with numerous multicolored ornaments. The colours have different meanings. When a young man wear a black shuka it means he has undergone circumcision and wear the black shuka for several months. Apart from black and red, Maasai’s also wear blue, checked and stripped shukas. The Maasai’s advanced to shukas from animal skins in the early 60s.
The tribe also have earlobe piercings that are super stretched out and the exciting part is that unlike other tribes that use wooden materials to stretch the earlobes, Maasai’s use rows of beads. According to the men and women in the community, the piercing is a privilege to them. Piercing is actually the first stage of initition to adulthood and defines them in the society.
Maasai members take pride in their cows
The Maasai have for centuries depended on their huge herds of cattle. The nomadic pastoralists have always moved from one place to another in search of green pasture and suitable land for their livestocks. With a belief that all cows in the world belong to them, Maasai spend their whole life collecting cows. The cows are important to them because even as aforementioned they require cow dung and cow urine during the building of their kraals. They also rely for meat and milk from their cows. Maasai’s also drink cow’s blood during various special Maasai rituals and apart from all that , a Maasai’s wealth and status in the community is defined by the number of cattles one owns.
The Cows blood.
Well, having enjoyed milk and raw meats from their cows, Maasai also enjoy blood. They consume blood during rituals and celebrations, such as weddings among others and according to them it serve as regular sources of calories and nutrients. The blood is high in protein and considered beneficial for people with weak immune systems, especially those circumcised, given birth or ill. Elders also drink the raw blood to ease their hangovers and sooth themselves after a rough day.
The Maasai’s, however, do not slaughter their cows when collecting the blood. Instead, they use arrows to make a cut at the cows neck. This is done with the help of about two or more men who hold the animal and tie a rope tightly at the neck. They would then collect litres of blood that flows from the cut and, thereafter, they would smear mud or hot ash over the wound to halt the bleeding.
Maasai music and dance
The Maasai are popularly known for singing and dancing – generally jumping. Traditionally, the cultural dance performed only by men, demonstration of their strength and showing that they are warriors. The jumping dance is also a way of wooing their women. The one who jumps high win over the woman’s heart.
The Maasai tribe’s music is made up of well executed chorusess by the singer’s vocals who sing in harmonies. The song leader or the ‘olaranyani’ according to the Maa Language takes part in singing the melody.
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