Maasai People | East Africa Travel Company

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The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnos inhabiting northern, central, and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. they’re among the simplest known local populations internationally thanks to their residence near the various game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress.
The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnos inhabiting northern, central, and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. they’re among the simplest known local populations internationally thanks to their residence near the various game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress.


The Maasai speak the Maa language (ɔl Maa),[ a member of the Nilotic family that’s associated with the Dinka, Kalenjin, and Nuer languages. apart from some elders living in rural areas, most Maasai people speak the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili, and English. This tribal population has been reported as numbering 1,189,522 in Kenya within the 2019 census, compared to 377,089 within the 1989 census.
The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the tribal to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age-old customs. Many cultures of tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their villages to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle, reciprocally for a fee.

Maasai People

The Maasai tribe is an indigenous ethnic group in Africa of semi-nomadic people settled in Kenya and northern Tanzania.

Maasai Warriors

A Maasai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence that we call chic; daring and wildly

Maasai Tanzania

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.

Maasai Tribe Facts

Cows are wealth for the Maasai.

Maasai culture is centered around the belief that God (called Engai, or Enkai, in the tribe’s Maa language) created cattle, especially for them, and they are the custodians of all the world’s cattle.
For Maasai, life revolves around amassing and grazing large herds of cows (and to a lesser extent, goats). As well as being the tribe’s primary income source (livestock are traded for other products or cash), cows also play an important role in Maasai communal life.
Families and clans establish alliances through the exchange of cattle; and consuming the meat and milk of cows is considered a sacred act, one that binds them to their creator.
The Maasai have long used a “green” approach to managing their land.
For hundreds of years—and long before the official creation of game parks as a means of environmental conservation—the Maasai moved and grazed their herds throughout the Rift Valley without causing damage to the land or its resident wildlife.
They did this mainly by migrating seasonally across large swaths of territory, leaving the land plenty of time to recover before cycling back to graze it again.
Since their diet also traditionally relies on the milk, blood, and meat of their livestock, the tribe’s hunting of game was limited and non-disruptive to the larger ecosystem.
Historically, lion hunting was a rite of passage for the Maasai, but it is no longer practiced.
Young Maasai men once demonstrated their warrior status (morani) by ritually killing a lion, either alone or in a group, using only iron spears.
Normally, only male lions were hunted during this initiation rite, known as ala-mayo, since female lions were considered sacred progenitors. Despite the fact that ritual lion-hunting is now outlawed in East Africa, and the Maasai only kill lions that threaten their livestock, the bravery of the morani is still revered today.
The Maasai dress is beautiful and distinctive (and often-copied).
Not just their lithe, graceful physiques, but also their unique garb and body ornamentation make the Maasai stand out.
The shuka is the most iconic Maasai garment today, a woven blanket wrapped around the body, usually red with a striped or checked pattern in blue or black.
Even though it isn’t traditional historically – the shuka replaced animal-skin clothing around the 1960s and is bought instead of made by tribespeople – it is now worn by nearly all Maasai in East Africa.
The signature garment has been widely emulated by modern fashion designers, including Louis Vuitton; and many high-end jewelry designers have also taken inspiration from Maasai jewelry—especially the intricately beaded, vibrantly colored necklaces and bracelets were worn by both men and women.
Maasai jumpers are nearly impossible to beat.
The Adamu, or jumping dance, is, without doubt, the most famous of the many singing and dancing ceremonies performed by the Maasai. The ritual involves young Maasai men chanting rhythmically in unison, then taking turns stepping in front of the group and jumping several times, as high as they can, in a semicircle.
Young Maasai warriors who want to attract wives perform the Adamu (usually accompanied by high-energy whoops) as a display of strength. Safari travelers are often enthralled by the display, and some even participate in the jumping dance themselves.
Very few can approach the heights reached by the warriors, though; they have been practicing since childhood.

Maasai Language

Maasai or Maa is an Eastern Nilotic language spoken in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania by the Maasai people, numbering about 800,000.

Maasai Height

The average height of a Maasai is believed to be 190.5 cm / 6.25 feet, which makes the Maasai ethnic group one of the tallest, together with the Tutsi people.
The Maasai inhabit the African Great Lakes region and arrived via South Sudan. Most Nilotic speakers within the area, the Turkana, and therefore the Kalenjin, are pastoralists and are famous for their fearsome reputations as warriors and cattle rustlers.
This tribal and other groups in East Africa have adopted customs and practices from neighboring Cushitic-speaking groups, including the age-set system of social organization, circumcision, and vocabulary terms. Origin, migration, and assimilation

Maasai man

According to their oral history, the tribal originated from the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana (Northwest Kenya) and commenced migrating south around the 15th century, arriving during a long trunk of land stretching from what’s now northern Kenya to what’s now central Tanzania between the 17th and late 18th century.
Many ethnic groups that had already formed settlements within the region were forcibly displaced by the incoming Maasai, while other, mainly Southern Cushitic groups, were assimilated into cultural society.
The Nilotic ancestors of the Kalenjin likewise absorbed some early Cushitic populations.
This tribal society is strongly patriarchal in nature, with elder men, sometimes joined by retired elders, deciding most major matters for every Maasai group.
A full body of oral law covers many aspects of behavior.
Formal execution is unknown, and normally payment in cattle will settle matters. An out-of-court process is additionally practiced called an amateur, ‘to make peace, or drop, which involves a considerable apology.
The monotheistic Maasai worship one deity called Enkai or Engai. Engai features a dual nature: Engai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Engai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful.
There also are two pillars or totems of Maasai society: Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow, and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of 5 clans or family trees.
The Maasai also features a totemic animal, which is the lion; however, the animal is often killed.
The way this tribal kills the lion differs from trophy hunting because it is employed within the rite of passage ceremony.
The “Mountain of God”, Ol Doinyo Lengai, is found in northernmost Tanzania and may be seen from Lake Natron in southernmost Kenya.
The central human figure within the Maasai religious system is the laibon whose roles include shamanistic healing, divination and prophecy, and ensuring success in war or adequate rainfall. Today, they need a political role also thanks to the elevation of leaders.
Whatever power a private laibon had was a function of personality instead of an edge.
Many Maasai have also adopted Christianity and Islam.
The Maasai are known for their intricate jewelry and for many years, have sold these things to tourists as a business.

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