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The Maasai – Five Facts About the Kenyan Tribe

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5 Facts About the Kenyan Tribe

Kenya is one of Africa’s ultimate safari destinations offering experiences like hand-feeding giraffes and hot air balloon safaris. It is also home to the Maasai, one of Kenya’s native tribes. The Maasai tribe is a special group of people – in a world focused on urbanisation and modernisation, they have persisted with their traditional culture. Known for their distinctive, bright clothing and jumping dance, here are a few lesser-known facts about the Maasai:

“A Maasai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal. Their style is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much a part of their being as are a stag’s antlers.”

– Karen Blixen – 

1. Jumping Dance

The famous jumping dance where the Maasai men jump as high as possible is officially known as the adamu. The men make it look simple but it’s harder than it looks, an outsider giving it a go is sure to cause a few laughs. The adamu is part of the Eunoto ceremony, where boys transition to men. The jumping also acts as a way for men to attract brides. The higher he jumps, the more of an eligible bachelor he is.

2. Pain

The Maasai men also participate in stick fighting. This is a way to test bravery and skill. In Maasai culture, when a man shows no pain, he is a true warrior.  Stick fighting is used as a way to practice showing no reaction to pain. 

 3. Cattle

The Maasai have a sacred relationship with cattle. There is a Maasai prayer “Meishoo iyiook enkai inkishu o-nkera” which translates to “May Creator give us cattle and children”.  Cattle is used to bring individuals, families and clans together. It also provides the Maasai with their primary diet – cow meat and milk. The blood is given to women who have given birth, newly circumcised men, the sick and even those who have hangovers!

4. Burial

The Maasai do not have a formal burial ceremony. Tribe members that have died are left out in the fields for scavengers. Only great chiefs are buried. This is because the Maasai believe burial to be harmful to the soil.

5. Religion

The Maasai believe in one god – Enkai or Engai. Traditionally this god is manifested in two forms: the benevolent black god and the vengeful red god.

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