10 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About The Maasai Tribe Of East Africa

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They have maintained the way they live for decades and are one of the few tribes in Africa to stick to their cultural practices and traditions.

Although the Maasai have strongly gripped their traditional beliefs, their culture is uniquely transforming over the years.
Most of them live in Kenya, and some in Tanzania.

There are however little known but interesting facts about members of the Maasai community.
Here are some of them;

1. The Maasai People

The Maasai people of East Africa live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley on semi-arid and arid lands. They occupy a total land area of 160,000 square kilometers with a population of approximately one half million people.

2. Their Love For Cattle Blood

On special occasions, such as when a person is circumcised, gives birth or is sick, the Maasai people may drink cattle blood as it is considered to be good for the immune system. Additionally, the elders of the tribe often use cattle blood to alleviate intoxication or hangovers after a night of drinking alcohol.

3. Livestocks Are a Social Utility

Livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep are the primary source of income for the Maasai. Livestock serves as a social utility and plays an important role in the Maasai economy. Livestock are traded for other livestock, cash or livestock products such as milk and siege.

4. Women Are Gatherers While The Men Are Hunters

Maasai homes are called Inkajijik. They are rectangular and loaf-shaped and constructed from the land.

The women of the tribe are responsible for building the houses using materials such as sticks, grass, mud and even cow dung. Women are also responsible for supplying water, gathering firewood, milking the livestock and preparing meals for their families. While The men of the tribe, in addition to being hunters and “warriors”, are responsible for building fences made out of acacia thorns, these fences are primarily used to prevent lions from attacking the tribe’s livestock.

5. Circumcision Is Still A Norm

Circumcision ceremony is the most vital initiation of all rite of passages in the Maasai society.

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Both men and women of the Maasai society are traditionally eager to undergo through circumcision.

This initiation is performed shortly after puberty.
It is important to note that with the rising challenges of the 21st century in the Maasai society, many young Maasai women no longer undergo through circumcision.

6. They Frown On Farming

The Maasai rarely farm (they only do so when they have no other choice). This practice is frowned upon because they believe that manipulating the land for crop farming is considered a crime against nature. Maasai feel that once land is cultivated, it is no longer suitable for their precious livestock to graze on.

7. They Worship Engai

Maasai respect the elements of nature, particularly thunder, lightning and rain, as both gifts and punishments on the tribe.

They use the term “engai” when they speak of God or the elements, as they believe these natural occurrences shape the earth on which they live. The Maasai pray to Engai as a spiritual force that governs the universe.

8. Maasai Traditional Meal

img credit: asia.typepad.com

Traditionally, the Maasai rely on meat, milk and blood from cattle for protein and caloric needs.

People drink blood on special occasions. It is given to a circumcised person, a woman who has given birth and the sick. Also, on a regular basis drunk elders, the blood is also used to alleviate intoxication and hangovers.

However, its use in the traditional diet is waning due to the reduction of livestock numbers.

9. Traditionally They Do Not Bury Their Dead

Because the Maasai do not believe in the afterlife, their burial practices are traditionally very minimalistic. Most dead bodies are simply thrown to the wild forests for scavengers because burials are believed to harm the soil and is reserved only for some chiefs.

10. The Future Of The Maasai Cimmunity

The future of the Maasai is uncertain at this point. One thing, however, is certain that the Maasai culture is quickly eroding at the expense of civilization.

Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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