bruce_and_masai_stab132-3216_IMG_2.JPG (42106 bytes)         My World Tour -   Kenya:   Maasai People        131-3113_IMG.JPG (42951 bytes)

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Video and Sound!!!

Place curser over image to start.  (if you are feeling wacky, play them both at the same time)

Maasai Women tribal song   Maasai Men tribal song and dance
131-3151_IMG.JPG (35731 bytes)The Maasai are pastoral nomads who have actively resisted change, and today still follow the same lifestyle that they have for centuries.  Their culture centers around their cattle, which provide many of their needs - milk, blood and meat for their diet (they mix milk and blood as a yummy drink).  The hides and skins for clothing - although sheep and goats also play an important dietary role, especially during the dry season.  The land cattle and all elements related to cattle are considered sacred.

131-3105_IMG.JPG (33741 bytes)Maasai society is patriarchal and highly decentralized.  Elders meet to decide on general issues but ultimately it is the lives of the cattle which dominate proceedings.  One of the most important features of Maasai society is its system of social stratification based on age.  Maasai boys pass though a number of transitions throughout life, the first of which is marked by the circumcision rite.  Successive stages include junior warriors, senior warriors, junior elders and senior elders; each level is distinguished by its own unique rights, responsibilities and dress. Junior elders , for example, are expected to marry and settle down - somewhere between the ages of 30 and 40.  Senior elders assume the responsibility of making both wise and moderate decisions for the community.  The most important group is that of the newly initiated warriors, moran, who are charged with defending the cattle herds.

131-3135_IMG.JPG (56856 bytes)Maasai women play a markedly subservient role and have no inheritance rights.  Polygamy is widespread and marriages are arranged by the elders, without consulting the bride or her mother.  Since most women are significantly younger than men at the time of marriage, they often become widows and remarriage is rare.




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Maasai Men:  Warriors and Herdsmen.  The warriors carry a spear at all times, as lions are always near, looking to kill their cattle.  The Maasai still have tribal wars amongst each other.


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Maasai Women:  Colorful, but looked upon as little more than property and baby makers.  Women are match made (i.e. sold) to their new husband with a dowry from the husband of 7 cattle and 20 blankets.  A man may take up to 3 wives, but that will cost you more than those cattle and blankets.  At age 14 or so, women are forced to have a female (clitoral) circumcision, as part of tribal custom.  While I was quite aware of this practice, it completely shocked me to be standing there where this practice still continues.  Being taken back by it all, I didn't know whether I should press our Maasai guide on it or ask more questions.  His comment was that this was the practice, and though the government wants it to stop, it will not.  


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The children are working at a young age, as do most rural people in the world.  Some of the boys get an education, usually from a Christian mission.  One warrior who did go to school told us the teachers would not allow him to pierce his ears to make the traditional huge loops.  That sure sounds like a nun to me.


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The village is comprised of approximately 20 huts made out of mud, wood and straw.  Some villages are four or fives times this size.  They are enclosed in a circle by a thatched fence with the cattle sleeping in the center of the village at night, to protect from predators such as lion and aggressive tribes.  In the huts, the other livestock, such as chicken and goats, sleep in an area right next to the beds, also to protect them from predators.  The beds are made of a large piece of leather stretched across a hard dirt platform and there are no pillows.  There are no windows except a few holes the size of a fist.  The village stays in place a few years, then a the buildings wear down, the village moves.


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It's time to bring in the cows from the pasture.  If you look closely at the cows, you will see carvings all over their bodies as art and property markings.

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Maasai warrior showing an authentic stabbing, then taking his new wife.  I think he owes someone a few cattle for this fine vixen.


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Funny thing about cultural differences...  To the Maasai, a huge earlobe (which they take years to stretch out) is quite attractive.  When this warrior saw Julia's navel ring, he nearly passed out (he thought it was really gross).  He asked, "Why would you do such a thing?"  Bruce told him that it's done because it's sexy.  He looked at us as though we were crazy.

 Bruce and Julia, World Travelers and Adventure Seekers Extraordinaire.
Copyright 2002 by []. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05 Feb 2007 20:21:26 -0600 .