Maasai People and their Culture

Maasai (Ilmaasai)

 
Introduction - Anyone who visits East-central Africa especially Tanzania and Kenya for academic or adventure or just a safari holiday, will never be able to avoid seeing the adorable people of East-central Africa, the Maasai. Anywhere you go in towns or countryside in the above mentioned countries you will meet the Maasai people. For example, in Tanzania the Maasai have inhabited Ngorongoro Conservation Area for about 200 years. Upon arriving in Ngorongoro area face out the Datoga or Barbaig, the Nilo- Hamitic speaking pastoralists who came as earlier as 300 or so years before.

The Maasai have since occupied the area living with environment and wildlife harmoniously. The Maasai people dwell also in the eastern, northern, and western parts of Ngorongoro Conservation Area while the Barbaig reside in the southern part by Lake Eyasi, outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They also occupy parts of the great plains of Serengeti National Park and other famous parks in Tanzania and Kenya. We can certainly assert that apart from the attraction of national parks which is the primary reason for many tourists' visit to East-central Africa, the Maasai people are another reason that makes many tourists, anthropologists and archeologists come to visit Eastern-central Africa.

During colonial time, the Maasai were unpopular for their hostility because they turned their backs on the petty prizes and temptations from westerners. But in the past few decades, they have won admiration from all over the western world. Indeed, the Maasai are the great people of East-central Africa. Nevertheless, they are considered rigid because they have managed to preserve their traditional ways despite the impact of western civilisation. They have continued to practice their ancient customs and ceremonies; they have continued to maintain their age-set structure with its warrior ranks of proud and brave warriors known as Illmurran who are equal to commandos.

But how can one describe the Maasai people? The common ways used by many to portray the Maasai people such as their red garments, necklaces, a unique hair style, milk and blood as their main meal, male circumcision in which men become warriors (Ilmurran), killing a lion to demonstrate bravery, warrior-jumping dance, carrying of a spear and a shield are part and true symbols of the Maasai people and culture. But is this really the Maasai? These are good descriptions of the Maasai people, but according to our opinion they are inadequate representations of the Maasai. In other words, these symbols do not tell adequately who the Maasai people really are. How about their other important aspects of life? We need something more, something that deals with the heart of their culture, and something that speaks and portrays the real life of Maasai as people. Therefore, Ilkiding’a cultural tourism programme has seen the importance to provide some enlightening information with regard to the Maasai culture.

But how much is known of these unwavering keepers of their culture? Is there enough to help tourists, anthropologists and archeologists know about the Maasai and their respective culture? We will try our best to provide useful information perhaps more than what others have given. We at Ilkiding’a cultural tourism programme believe that knowing the culture of the Maasai people will be helpful for you as you prepare to come and explore Tanzania, the beautiful land! Why? First, as already stated, "You cannot avoid seeing the Maasai" for they are almost in every corner of all famous national parks, in Tanzania and Kenya. Second, you cannot resist adoring them! Third, they are probably the only people who live with animals without endangering each other! In addition, you will find that despite their firmness to preserve their culture, the Maasai are friendly, hospitable and welcoming.

It is for this very reason we would like to present to you a concise but detailed overview of the Maasai culture, that is, their traditions and norms. Our website www.ilkidinga.com is the place to start your adventure, learning the people's culture and animals of East-central Africa ! Ilkiding’a cultural tourism programme assures you that once you encounter these adorable people of East-central Africa; you also, will admire them. We urge you to come and "see" because "seeing is more than reading" and "seeing is believing." And once you see, you will never regret! Of course, this includes visiting the great Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park, and Mikumi National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro the roof of Africa (19,335.6 ft, equal to 5895m), Mount Meru 15,000 ft, equal to 4565m) and many more places. In this juncture, Ilkiding’a cultural tourism programme says, KARIBU a word for WELCOME, which is literally translated, "Come near." Hence, "come near" and we will take you to the most spectacular places where wonders and beauty never cease!