The Maasai Tribe

The Maasai Tribe

The Maasai are tribal people located mainly in Kenya and Tanzania. It is estimated there is 1 million of them. However it’s just a rough number. According to the government “some people want to be counted ten times while others refuse to be counted”. They also have a good sense of humor.

One thing that distinguishes them profoundly is that, despite the government’s efforts, they refuse to embrace any kind of “civilized behavior” as we know it, and proudly stick to the their traditional way of life that dates back to the cradle of humanity. Some organizations nowadays even state we should “embrace Maasai lifestyle to prevent global warming”. So here’s their lifestyle, the choice is up to you.

Maasai pastures

Young boys are sent out to herd the calves as soon as they can toddle. Other than that, their childhood is a playtime. With the exception of ritual beatings to test courage and endurance. 

Child with cattle

Despite all odds, they know how to pronounce “cookies”. When they see white skins, they forget all about their calves and attack your car.

Maasai kid asking for cookies

My advice, don’t get out to cuddle them. Because they are grown men trapped inside children’s bodies. And they will kill you if they have to. For cookies.

Maasai children

Maasai child

Ok, just kidding, they grow up quite friendly and nice. These guys are called “warriors in making”. The reason they wear black and their faces are painted is because they reached puberty, been circumcised (which must be endured in silence to avoid the disgrace) and kicked out of the tribe to heal for 4 to 8 month. After which they spend up to 10 years living with other “young warriors” of their age in specially built camps away from their families where they learn everything they need to become a man. An equivalent of an army if you will.

With young warriors

Some disputes arise when decision is made on where to build such camps. The thing is, it’s a free visit zone for everyone. Including the girlfriends they used to fool around with before joining the “warrior” circles (yep, they start very early). Now all great, but the problem is that while these guys are becoming men and chasing lions, their girlfriends, once hit puberty, are also circumcised and married off to older men who already completed the “army” period and acquired some cows and wealth. But “often women maintain close ties, both social and sexual, with their former boyfriends, even after they are married”. So time to time angry husbands come to young warriors’ camps and try beat the hell out of them.

Maasai men

But it’s not the infidelity that upsets them, or the law that any child their wife bears is their child, even if it’s not. What really gets to them is the idea of their wives sleeping with younger men. There is even a law against it. There is also another law stating that once married, the woman SHOULD sleep with other men of the same age as her husband. You know, “the more the merrier” and “sharing is caring” kinda thing. It is because they practice not only Polygamy, where men can marry an infinite number of women, but also Polyandry, when a woman marries not just her husband, but the entire age group. Therefore, when you have guests, there’s only one thing stopping them from sleeping with your wife – significant age difference. And if she happened to have a headache of course.

Maasai women

Now back to the “young warriors”. While theoretically they are not allowed to sleep with their ex girlfriends anymore, they may take the girls who haven’t reached puberty yet, hence not circumsided and not married ones. And much younger then the warriors of course. “When warriors complete this cycle of life, and become eligible for married life, they exhibit outwards signs of sadness, crying over the loss of their youth and adventurous lifestyles”. No shit.  

Maasai village

One of the Maasai villages. The houses are build by women. For their men. It’s a patriarchal society. Where a man’s wealth is measured in terms of cattle and children. Exactly in that order. Ironically, if you have plenty of one but none of the other, you’re still considered to be poor. 50+ cows will get you respect. And women. The more cows you have, the more women you get to marry, the more children they will produce (that’s why the Maasai men are happy when their friends impregnate their wives too), the more important you become in the society. So it all runs down to the ego. Men 😉

Maasai teeth

Yes, let me zoom in for you.

Maasai teeth

There is a special thing about their teeth. A canine tooth is removed at early age to provide an “opening” to the mouth for medicine in case a person gets sick. Also canine teeth buds are associated with bad spirits that cause children’s diarrhea and so should be removed. They don’t have caries even though they don’t brush their teeth. Apart from scraping them once in a blue moon with a sugar cane twig. No, actually recently caries incidence have been reported among their children. But again, only because us, ‘kind’ tourists, give them cookies and candies.

Normally, their daily diet consists (in order of volume) of raw milk, raw blood and raw meat. From cattle. And according to a medical survey they are healthy as ever. “Electrocardiogram tests found no evidence whatsoever of heart disease, abnormalities or malfunction… average cholesterol level was about 50 percent lower than of an average American” and their fitness level was evaluated as “Olympic standard”. 

Sporty Maasai

“Blood is very rich in protein and is good for the immune system”. They make sure every pregnant or nurturing mother and growing child gets a daily doze of blood. “Also, on a regular basis drunk elders use the blood to alleviate intoxication and hangovers” – in case you were looking for a remedy. But the way they get animal blood is not by killing it, but merely puncturing a hole in it’s neck, draining some, sealing the puncture and letting the animal live. Don’t try it on your cat at home.

Fruits and vegetables are hardly consumed, if ever. They do boil roots and herbs to drink the decoction and make their own alcohol. But whatever land grown they consume, it is gathered, not farmed. In fact, the Maasai consider fertilising the land for crop farming a crime against nature. More recently, however, some tribes were forced to start growing maize as additional food supply due to the lack of pastures available for cattle as a result of government squeezing them out of their territories and pronouncing it national reserves. Which also restricts their access to water. Such a shame. The Maasai are already living in harmony with ecosystem anyway and not causing it any harm. 

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… apart from killing a few too many lions for recreational purposes. Their excuse on which you can read in the next post.

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