On the border between Kenya and Tanzania, lives an ancient people who have brought all the traditions of their past into contemporary history.
The Masai are an African population similar, for anthropological characteristics, to the Ethiopians, but completely unique in their incredible integration with the modern world.
They are generally very tall, with long legs and arms, fine features, thin physique and accustomed to walking great distances. They are considered nomadic or semi-nomadic, but they are actually transhumant shepherds, who move to follow the pastures: nowadays, actually, many of them are even nonmigratory (often due to territorial restrictions because of the governments’ management of the borders) and live with their livestock in the same place for almost or an entire lifetime.
Their language is maa, from which the name of the population derives, pronounced in the original Maasai language.
They are currently divided into 12 main clans, which are flanked by a few smaller clans.
The Maasai are organized into male age groups: they do not have a leader, but each group refers to a spiritual leader, an elder called Laibon.
The children are educated to become warriors, even if they are mainly breeders in everyday life: as such, however, they have to learn how to defend their livestock from attacks by predators.
The advent of many European missionaries on African soil, has brought the Christian faith to many clans. It is not rare, in fact, that the young Maasai have two names, the first in the Maa language and the second linked to the Biblical scriptures. Traditionally, however, the Maasai religion is linked to a deep spirituality rooted in a god who is immanent in all things and who can manifest himself in a benevolent or malevolent way.
Their diet is based on meat, milk and blood of their livestock.
They are supplemented by honey and tubers.
The contact with "modern" populations has introduced carbohydrates into their diet through corn flour, with which they produce a sort of polenta (Ugali) that allows them to overcome the hardest times, in case of shortage of livestock.
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Texts by Tanzania Private Tours. Trips and Safaris throughout Tanzania. Reproduction prohibited. ©2020
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