Maasai are a renowned semi nomadic and pastoral tribe found in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the few tribes in that have retained their traditions, lifestyle and lore despite the modern civilization sweeping across the globe. Visiting Masai villages will give you an in depth look into traditional African ways of life that have been preserved for ages.
Brief History of the Maasai people
According to oral history, they are believed to have migrated north of Lake Turkana in Kenya in the lower Nile Valley. They began migrating south during the late 17th and early 18th centuries and occupied the region stretching from northern Kenya to central Tanzania. The Maasai warriors conquered territories and displaced other tribes that had settled in the region while migrating while others were assimilated into their culture. They lived in fertile lands where they kept their livestock until the colonial era when the British colonized Kenya and signed a treaty (1904 treaty) where Maasai people lost most of their fertile lands and moved to the semi-arid areas where most of them currently reside.
Social structure, lifestyle and culture
Their culture is predominantly patriarchal in nature and the community is led by a council of elders who make community decisions and settle arising matters. Most arguments are usually settled by cattle payment means.
A beautiful site you will likely encounter while going through the villages is of large herds of cattle grazing that beautifully blend in with the savannah fields. This is because Cattle keeping is their main activity and their primary source of food. Ownership of cattle and having many children is culturally a measure of wealth.
Your first site at their homestead is usually thatched roof loaf-shaped structures known as ‘manyattas’ mostly build by women while men build fences to protect their cattle from predators. Because of their nomadic culture these structures are d them usually temporary.
They dress in colorful Masai garments known as shukas and brightly colored beaded jewelry i.e., necklaces, bracelets and amulets worn by men and women.
When you visit their villages, you will get to see and buy these beautifully crafted handmade ornaments and shukas which you can take home as souvenirs.
The Maasai are known for their traditional music and dance which renders the air with chorus of vocalists singing polyphonic harmonies as the song leader (Olaranyani) sings the melody. Their jumping dance (adumu) is also part of their traditional cultural activities. On a cultural visit you will get to experience their song performances and even dance with them.
Their traditional diet includes meat, raw blood and milk.
Planning for a Cultural Visit
While on a safari to Amboseli National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Entice Africa Safaris can plan an optional activity for you to visit these Maasai villages at a cost of $20 which is paid to the village chief. Our guide will make arrangements and accompany you on this visit.
To book your East Africa safari, contact us today on:
Phone: +254727723343 | +254799871255