Have you ever heard about the Maasai people? Maybe you have seen them in their beautiful, colourful dresses, jumping high into the sky? A jumping Maasai with red coloured clothing is an iconic picture from Kenya or Tanzania. Some Maasais are so-called semi-nomadic and pastoralists that keep cattle and sheep as livestock. Others make a living of tourism, by selling handcrafted Maasai products, such as jewelry, wood carvings, blankets and paintings.
The tribe is based in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania with a population of approximately 800 000 people in each country. The language they speak is called Maa and is similar to other native languages in Kenya and Tanzania.
Aurora visited one Maasai village during her visit to Maasai Mara. The men of this village welcomed us by dancing, singing and jumping. They told about their cultural traditions and their life. They even invited us into their homes.
One of the cultural rituals they still practice in this village, is sending 15-year-old boys into the savanna. As many as 40 boys can be sent out together. The aim with this practice is to kill a lion to demonstrate a sign of manhood and that the boy finally turned into a man. When the lion is killed, the boys pull out one of the lion’s teeth as proof to bring back to their family.
Girls and women, on the other hand, are the main responsible for running the households by fetching water, cooking and raising children. When they reach 18 years-old it is common that they marry a man from another village. Then they move to their husband’s village, which may already have a wife. Polygamy is widely accepted and is a common cultural practice amongst Maasais.
Our visit ended at the market were women were selling their handcrafted products. As you can see in the photos, I bought the traditional Maasai blanket, which will keep me warm during cold winter days in Norway.
Amongst the photos you can also see an older photo of Jørund with the Maasais. He spent a few days in a village called Engaruka, in Tanzania. He got to know a local teacher there, who’s name is Daudi. They are still in contact. Jørund was amazed by the way the Maasai compare themselves to the animals living on the savanna. Mr. Daudi told him that even though the Maasai are armed with knives and spears, the Maasai will never hunt an elephant or a giraffe, as they compare the value of their lives equal to their own. However, the changing climate of the savanna and a growing number of people forces some of the Maasai to break their cultural codex and sometimes hunt the animals they consider as spiritual relatives.