Maasai tribe facts

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Maasai tribe facts

Published on October 19th by staff under Tribe Facts. The Maasai tribe is a popular ethnic group inhabiting the African countries of Tanzania and Kenya. They have been a native of this region for a long time and their urge to retain their age-old traditions and semi-nomadic ways of life make them unique.

The Maasai tribe existed as early as the 15 th century in the lower region of the Nile valley, located to the north of the Lake Turkana. These people initially proceeded to settle towards the northern part of Kenya, and between the 17 th and 18 th century, they occupied the Central Tanzanian belt. In this process, they forcibly displaced many other ethnic groups previously inhabiting the lands.

However, some of the tribes, particularly the Southern Cushitic ethnic groups got merged into the Maasai. By the middle of the 19 th century, their territories expanded significantly, covering a significant portion of the Great Rift Valley, as well as the surrounding lands in the regions of Mount Marsabit and Dodoma to the northern and southern part respectively.

There was more to their suffering as a massive drought followed and lasted for a long time, killing many people of the tribe and also resulting in a steep dip in their population. Hence they were confined to the Narok and Kajiado districts which are also their present home. In the modern times, many of them are pastoralists and have also applied to Kenya and Tanzania to grant them grazing rights in the national parks Nairobi National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara which were once their home.

The Maasai people are known to speak in the Maa language, an Eastern Nilotic dialect. This corresponds to the Samburu spoken by the Kenyan tribe SamburuParakuyu the language of the Kwavi tribe and Chamus the language of the Ilchamus peoplelanguages, all of which are variations of Maa.

At present, however, their traditional language is gradually getting lost as Swahili and English is slowly taking over. Besides being pastoralists and herders, they were also great lion hunters in the past, considering it pride to slay the king of the jungle. Hunting and preying of the lion at present has been banned in the African countries. The Maasais were wholly pastoral people in the past, and their cattle supplied all of their diets.

Not just the menfolk but also women and children are made to have it. This ritual exists even at present though in a milder manner as the blood is mixed with milk and given to the sick or consumed during special occasions.

While maize is eaten as a porridge known as ugali, the milk is had fresh or even added to sweet tea. Soups also form an essential part of their diet, the plant Acacia nilotica mostly used for the purpose. The stems and barks of this plant were either used as a decoction or added to their soups. Their food habits had perhaps made them healthy as electrocardiogram tests conducted on about male Maasais deduced that they did not have any heart abnormalities or malfunction.

A Canadian dentist, Dr. Weston A. Price, had been to the Maasai village in and stated how hardy these people were as most of them did not suffer from any dental or bone-related problems. The cattle plays a significant role in the life of a Maasai as it not just provides them with their source of food but also serves as their status symbol.The Maasai are an extraordinary people with an even more extraordinary culture.

They have lived in areas of Tanzania and Kenya for hundreds of years and graze their precious cattle in both countries even today. Originating from ancient lands and simpler times the Maasai can trace themselves back hundreds of years. But the way they live today still reflects both when and where they came from. Maasai culture is unique and their customs are sometimes thought of as controversial.

But their story is a very human one. The Maasai are great in number. The most recent records say that there areof them in Kenya andin Tanzania. Even though the Maasai live a simple life, they still thrive in spite of our quickly developing world.

In fact, their population has probably been increasing. In their numbers were recorded at ,! The Maasai, when their numbers were much smaller, are thought to have travelled down from the Nile Valley in the North.

Because they language is a spoken one, they have carried this and other pieces of history down through oral tradition for centuries. In fact, the oral tradition of the Maasai people carries such weight that they decided to name themselves after it. The Maasai people are so strong and their language so spirited that many other tribes have abandoned their mother tongues in favour of speaking Maa.

This makes the idea that the Maasai originated from the area even more likely. Cows come before everything else for the Maasai. They are the single most important aspect of their lives. The Maasai men take great pride in herding as their cows are their most prized possessions.

Because the Maasai are spread across such vast expanses of land, they have the opportunity to meet fellow tribespeople from far away. This presents the Maasai with a great opportunity to use their cattle to barter with. A good herd of cattle is a great sign of wealth in the same way an expensive sports car might be to us. They move themselves and their livestock to the tune of a communal land management system based on seasonal rotation. Recently there have been whispers that consumerist nations should pay attention to this sort of seasonal rotation.

5 Things You Need to Know about the Maasai

The nomadic way of life goes back to the roots of all human history which makes the Maasai extra special. They and a handful other peoples across the world are our last living link to our distant past.

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The Maasai take lion hunting very seriously indeed. Going on a solo hunt for a male lion they don't hunt females is seen by the tribe as a display of great courage and strength. But in recent years the lion population has dwindled due to disease. The Maasai created a new rule that means they can now only hunt in groups, allowing the lion population to recover. These people have lived here in this way for centuries and seeing them firsthand will make the rest of the world seem a million miles away.

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Maasai People (Masai): Tribal Facts, History and Culture

Inquire Now. Here are 5 things you need to know to get a clearer picture of these fascinating people. Related Blog Posts.

Read more. Inquire Now Need more information? Fill out the form below and we'll quickly come back to you with an answer.A Maasai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal.

Maasai not Masai is the correct spelling of this noble tribe: it means people speaking maa. Masai was the incorrect spelling of the British settlers and has remained in current use.

The Maasai have always been special. Their bright red robes set them apart visually. Spear in hand, they are calm and courageous regardless of the danger.

The armed British troops who drove the Maasai from their lands in the early 20th century had great respect for these fearless tribesmen. Up until recently, the only way for a Maasai boy to achieve warrior status was to single-handedly kill a lion with his spear.

Kenya recognizes over fifty tribes of native people. The Maasai were the dominating tribe at beginning of 20th century.

They are one of the very few tribes who have retained most of their traditions, lifestyle and lore.

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In common with the wildlife with which they co-exist, the Maasai need a lot of land. Unlike many other tribes in Kenya, the Maasai are semi-nomadic and pastoral: they live by herding cattle and goats. The Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. Until the European settlers arrived, fierce Maasai tribes occupied the most fertile lands. The Maasai struggled to preserve their territory, but their spears were no match for armed British troops, and their lawyers never had a fair chance in British courtrooms.

Inthe Maasai signed a first agreement, losing the best of their land to the European settlers. Seven years later, ina very controversial agreement was signed by a small group of Maasai, where their best Northern land Laikipia was given up to white settlers.

Surely they did not fully understand what the consequences of such a treaty were, and anyway the signatories did not represent the entire tribe. With these two treaties, the Maasai lost about two-thirds of their lands and were relocated to less fertile parts of Kenya and Tanzania.

In contrast, the Maasai have persisted in their traditional ways, so as Kenya takes more land for growing tribes and agriculture, they suffer.

Less land for an ever growing Kenyan population means less land for the Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife.Maasai are best known for their beautiful beadwork which plays an essential element in the ornamentation of the body. Beading patterns are determined by each age-set and identify grades.

Young men, who often cover their bodies in ocher to enhance their appearance, may spend hours and days working on ornate hairstyles, which are ritually shaved as they pass into the next age-grade. Maasai are the southernmost Nilotic speakers and are linguistically most directly related to the Turkana and Kalenjin who live near Lake Turkana in west central Kenya.

According to Maasai oral history and the archaeological record, they also originated near Lake Turkana. Maasai are pastoralist and have resisted the urging of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle.

They have demanded grazing rights to many of the national parks in both countries and routinely ignore international boundaries as they move their great cattle herds across the open savanna with the changing of the seasons. This resistance has led to a romanticizing of the Maasai way of life that paints them as living at peace with nature. Cattle are central to Maasai economy.

They are rarely killed, but instead are accumulated as a sign of wealth and traded or sold to settle debts. Their traditional grazing lands span from central Kenya into central Tanzania. Young men are responsible for tending to the herds and often live in small camps, moving frequently in the constant search for water and good grazing lands.

Maasai are ruthless capitalists and due to past behavior have become notorious as cattle rustlers. At one time young Maasai warriors set off in groups with the express purpose of acquiring illegal cattle. Maasai often travel into towns and cities to purchase goods and supplies and to sell their cattle at regional markets.

Maasai also sell their beautiful beadwork to the tourists with whom they share their grazing land. Maasai community politics are embedded in age-grade systems which separate young men and prepubescent girls from the elder men and their wives and children.

When a young woman reaches puberty she is usually married immediately to an older man. Until this time, however, she may live and have sex with the youthful warriors.

Often women maintain close ties, both social and sexual, with their former boyfriends, even after they are married. In order for men to marry they must first acquire wealth, a process that takes time. Women, on the other hand, are married at the onset of puberty to prevent children being born out of wedlock. All children, whether legitimate are not, are recognized as the property of the woman's husband and his family.

The cow is slaughtered as an offering during important ceremonies marking completed passage through one age-grade and movement to the next. When moran warriors complete this cycle of life, they exhibit outward signs of sadness, crying over the loss of their youth and adventurous lifestyles. Laibon Maasai diviners are consulted whenever misfortune arises. They also serve as healers, dispensing their herbal remedies to treat physical ailment and ritual treatments to absolve social and moral transgressions.

The Maasai community (Part 2) -Culture Quest

In recent years Maasai laibon have earned a reputation as the best healers in Tanzania. Even as western biomedicine gains ground, people also continually search out more traditional remedies. Maasai are often portrayed as people who have not forgotten the importance of the past, and as such their knowledge of traditional healing ways has earned them respect. Laibons are easily found peddling their knowledge and herbs in the urban centers of Tanzania and Kenya.

Explore a map of Maasai peoples and their neighbors in north central Tanzania and southern Kenya. View Museum Locations Telephone Fax Privacy Information.Known for their distinctive, bright clothing and jumping dance, here are a few lesser known facts about the Maasai:. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal.

The famous jumping dance where the Maasai men jump as high as possible is officially known as the adamu. The adamu is part of the Eunoto ceremony, where boys transition to men. The jumping also acts as a way for men to attract brides. The higher he jumps, the more of an eligible bachelor he is. The Maasai men also participate in stick fighting. This is a way to test bravery and skill. In Maasai culture, when a man shows no pain, he is a true warrior. Stick fighting is used as a way to practice showing no reaction to pain.

The Maasai have a sacred relationship with cattle. Cattle is used to bring individuals, families and clans together.

maasai tribe facts

It also provides the Maasai with their primary diet — cow meat and milk. The blood is given to women who have given birth, newly circumcised men, the sick and even those who have hangovers! The Maasai do not have a formal burial ceremony.

Tribe members that have died are left out in the fields for scavengers. Only great chiefs are buried. This is because the Maasai believe burial to be harmful to the soil. The Maasai believe in one god — Enkai or Engai.

Traditionally this god is manifested in two forms: the benevolent black god and the vengeful red god. Jumping Dance The famous jumping dance where the Maasai men jump as high as possible is officially known as the adamu. Pain The Maasai men also participate in stick fighting.

Cattle The Maasai have a sacred relationship with cattle. Burial The Maasai do not have a formal burial ceremony.

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Religion The Maasai believe in one god — Enkai or Engai. In search of more reading? Read about Tira the spotted zebra here. Facebook Linkedin Pinterest Email. Quick Enquiry?Nairobi - Things to do. Share 9 Pinterest. Maasai is one of the many tribes of Kenya.

It may be worth mentioning that we have the Maasai in both Kenya and Northern Tanzania, but this article will focus on the Kenyan Maasai. Until recently, the Maasai were the dominating native tribe in Kenya and to date, they have maintained a big part of their traditions and lifestyle, setting them apart from the other Kenyan tribes. They are usually defined by their colorful clothes which varies by sex, age and place. The Maasai have always been calm and courageous.

They were formerly hunters, with their young men trained to hunt for food and to protect their families. In fact, until recently, a Maasai boy would only be crowned a warrior if they killed a lion single-handedly using a spear. This has probably been one of the most intriguing fact about the Maasai people. As strange as it may sound to some, the Maasai do in fact drink the raw blood of the cows and goats that they slaughter, which is their primary source of food.

maasai tribe facts

The act is considered honorable. The drinking of blood used to take place on special occasions like when a woman gave birth or when a young man got circumcised, but nowadays the blood can be taken every time there is a slaughter.

The Maasai have for a long time been semi-nomadic and pastoral, living by herding cattle and goats. Having a large number of livestock is a sign of wealth for any Maasai man.

maasai tribe facts

It gives you status, respect, and honor among the community. In fact, the Maasai used to trade with their livestock to acquire whatever they wanted. They also value their children. A young Maasai woman would give birth to as many children as her body allowed they got married early and some still doas it is also a sign of wealth for the husband.

The modern Maasai does however understand the concept of family planning and its importance, but those in the villages still maintain some of these behaviors. It is also important to note that if you have a large number of cattle but no children, you will still be considered poor and vice versa.

Maasai Facts

These structures are impermanent in nature. The traditional buildings are built using cow dung mixed with mud for the walls which have been structured using sticks, and then grass and more sticks for the roof. The floors of the huts are the bare grounds we walk on, which are swept at the end of the construction.

For a long time, the Maasai men have been the ones hunting, taking care of their livestock, and protecting their homes and communities from enemies. The men make sounds to mimic cattle sounds, while jumping in the air.

The man that can jump higher than his peers is considered more masculine and therefore more attractive to young women. The women shake their necks and shoulders, moving the heavy jewellery they done back and forth. When a Maasai old man nears his death, he will usually call his sons and distribute his wealth, mainly cattle to each of them.

The modern Maasai tribesmen and women do. However, a big number of the Maasai especially those from the older generation group do not bury their dead. They do not have your typical formal funeral service and believe that burial is harmful to the soil. And so they take the dead body, smear it with animal blood or fat from an animal, and then leave it out in the bushes for predators to eat.

This is true, not just for the Maasai in Kenya, but for those in Tanzania as well. As many practice nomadic pastoralism, it is not surprising that you will find them near game reserves and any open fields where their animals can get food. The Maasai people in Kenya live in Kajiado and Narok counties. One important fact that I must point out though is that the Maasai culture is quickly eroding, with most of their old practices being dropped.

But they are still a fascinating group of people and there is always a lot you can learn from them.Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase an item that I link to then I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. The Maasai Tribe are tribal peoples located in Eastern Africa. Personally, I find the tribe fascinating! So today I share with you 10 interesting facts about the Maasai Tribe!

Often, tribes are specific to just one area. However, the Maasai Tribe inhabit northern, central and southern Kenya as well as northern Tanzania! As far as records go, there are overMaasai Tribe members living in Kenya, and at leastin Tanzania. These are:. For the most part, the Maasai people live on the milk and meat their cattle. This how they get most of their protein and calories.

In more recent years, some Maasai people have introduced other types of food into their diet: maize meal, potatoes, rice, and cabbage. Traditionally this is frowned upon, though. This is because the Maasai see using the land for crop farming as a crime against nature, as it makes the ground no longer suitable for grazing. Maasai people drink blood on various occasions: when they are sick, have just been circumcised, or have just given birth.

However as livestock numbers drop, blood is becoming less of a delicacy. This is definitely one of the more out-there facts about the Maasai Tribe! The language itself is part of the East Neolithic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. It is mostly a spoken language, as the tribe place such importance on vocalisation.

Use of special lagnas

However there is a Maasai dictionary, and the Bible has been translated into Maasai too. To hear some numbers and greetings in the Maasai language, as well as some the Maasai translation of the Parable, watch the video below! There are approximately 36 Nilo-Saharan languages in total, with Maasai being just one of them.


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