The Maasai community is one of the best known African tribes that have very great and fascinating aspects that differentiate them from other tribes and communities. They have a very rich cultural heritage and do not farce with any of their rituals and rites of passage. These facets, therefore, make them unique and give them a very high social status not only in the countries they live in but also in the whole continent of Africa and the world in general.
Since they are Nilotic, they inhibit most of the Nilotic speaking groups’ aspects which make them conventional. The Maasai are fearless and evince in them a sense of courage. They highly value and have very rich cultures and traditions. They also live a great nomadic lifestyle, reside in wildlife conservation areas, and are a major point of contact for most tourists.
- They Are Fearless
The Maasai acquire their gutsy nature of being fearless from the training they go through as they pass from a stage of childhood to adulthood in their life. These include being taught how to hunt for food and also make sure they can protect their families and the community in general.
Maasai boys take the hard challenge of killing a lion using a spear for them to be regarded as brave and also crown them the position of warriors in the community. This has however not been the case in modern society due to the need for the conservation of wildlife which has been a major source of foreign exchange for the country, which is brought in by tourists from different parts of the world.
The courage they exhibit offers adequate security readily required by the community against any kind of predators and any other impending enemy. This is therefore passed from one generation to another making the Maasai well known for their fearless nature.
- Culture And Traditions
The Maasai community is one of the known communities that highly value their cultural practices and traditions and follow them as it is supposed to be. For this reason, therefore, this society has a variety of norms and traditional ceremonies that are conducted after a given period.
The young males undergo circumcision when they reach puberty which ranges between eighteen to thirty years. This rite is referred to as Emurata in the local Maa language.During ancient times this was conducted on both males and females but it has highly been dismayed in modern society due to its adverse effects on an individual’s health. However, some people still encourage the act despite its detrimental ramifications.
Other ceremonies conducted by the Maasai include Enkipaata, Enkang, Enkiama, and Eunoto which mean seniors ritual,meat-feeding ceremony, wedding ceremony, and shaving ceremony respectively. All these ceremonies are conducted by the whole community and members who get involved and receive gifts not only from family members but also from friends. They are also conducted after a period well known by the community members.
- Nomadic Lifestyle
The Maasai have a characteristic lifestyle of living a nomadic way of life. They are pastoralists in nature, meaning that they keep herds and herds of cattle and goats. Herding of cattle has been dominantly practiced in the community since time immemorial.
They highly value their cattle which to them is a symbol of how much wealth one has. The more you have large herds the more your social status in the community rises. One of the most important aspects and purposes of the cattle is the payment of the bride’s wealth whereby the family of the boy has to pay the bridewealth in the form of cattle to appreciate the family of the girl for taking good care of her.
Their desire to have many herds of cattle was brought into life by the belief that after their creation they were accorded the right to have all cattle on earth by the Almighty (their God) whom they call Engai.
- Living In The Wildlife Conservation Areas
Some of the Maasai in the country live in wildlife conservation areas. One of the main reasons contributing to this is because they are more experienced in dealing with wild animals and have a strong passion for the conservation of these animals. They also live in national parks and reserves because they use some of the areas to graze their livestock in areas where there are enough pastures.
However, the population living in these wildlife conservation areas continues to decline from day to day due to claims that some animals endanger human life. The increasing cases of poaching activity have also greatly barred the Maasai from residing in these national reserves.
Incidentally, some of the savannahs are increasingly becoming overpopulated which poses a big challenge to the government and therefore they are excluded from these wildlife conservation areas, which are the game parks and game reserves.
Some of the national wildlife conservation areas where the Maasai can be found include the Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu Trails, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and Serengeti national parks.
- Point Of Contact For Most Tourists
The Maasai’s charismatic mode of dress, jewelry, beading decorations, and dance styles is a major tourist attraction. Many people from different parts of the world visit their villages to experience their diverse cultures and also learn how to make their jewelry from simple beads. These visits by tourists are of great economic importance to the government as the tourists bring in foreign money to the country, regarded as foreign exchange.
The Maasai also prepares special traditional foods that are highly nutritious and attractive to tourists. The foreign exchange acquired from this is a vital key to the diverse development of the country and also makes the Maasai culture known to many parts of the world.
Their house structures, referred to as Manyattas are also a major reason why the tourists visit them and as a result, they get to boost their sense of belonging to continue living their simple way of life and embrace their culture without fail.