Beautiful, Archaic Maasai
The Maasai people are (somewhat) indigenous to the Serengeti area, in Kenya and Tanzania (I think there are around a million in each country). What I knew about the Maasai prior to my trip is that they were pushed off their land, and I had the typical picture of them in my mind – dressed in bright red traditional clothing, holding a herding stick, and jumping (really high) in place. It was nice to learn more of their history and also get to meet and talk with them.
Somewhere there is a video of me dancing/jumping with them and getting really tired, really fast😂 They wear these clothes all of the time… sooo beautiful. So, when you drive by a field with a Maasai herding cattle, this is their dress. It’s really striking.
In the early 1950’s, the British / Tanzanian governments established the Serengeti National Park, and as a part of that, forced the Maasai off of all national park land, which was their land. They were pushed to the area outside of the Serengeti and the other parks. Forced Migration. Politics. And a constant theme of my trip is how many countries have been shaped by the British or other European entities colonizing and screwing with the locals. Amazing amounts of bullshit, of course. Marko told us the Maasai got better land out of the deal, which, if you look at the Serengeti land, appears to make sense, but at the same time, they’re nomadic and were choosing to be there and farming there for a reason. I’m sure it was easier to rationalize because they are nomadic, but still I would classify it as forced migration. Don’t know.
Either way, establishing the national parks has preserved these amazing spaces of wildlife that are unlike any other place on earth, and I am thankful for that part. It’s also changed the Maasai’s way of living. Despite this, they keep their distinct dress and many customs / ways of life (for better or worse). We had a chance to visit a small Maasai village (called a boma) because one of the girls on the safari asked to do this extra excursion – and I’m so glad she did! They danced, sang, showed us how the ‘make fire’, and gave us a tour of their huts.
They make the huts from sticks and use cow dung on the outside to waterproof.
They took our cameras and were snapping pics on their own😆…
Some other notable Maasai cultural facts:
- Both men and women, WHEN THEY TURN 18, get ‘circumcised’ (can you imagine the pain??!!)
- Yes, female mutilation. The reason for it?… As our guide so eloquently described (this is a quote, pronunciation and all): “The Maasai men believe the clitori of women make them prostute, make them nocturnal.” He was trying to be funny, but it is also pretty much the reasoning the Maasai use………..
- Many men have more than one wife, but that is becoming less and less common
- Their farming tactics are a model for sustainability
- It’s a thing to drink cow blood
- Lots of ear piercings
- They wear sandals made from tires
Next up: The Serengeti and Big Five😻