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Ethnography of the Maasai Essay

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Within the Maasai culture there are several political decision makers. One decision maker is the father in a family unit. The father can decide where his children live within the kraal, which is an enclosed settlement. Another part of the decision making process in the Maasai culture are the elders of the clan. Another group that participates in the Maasai’s process of making decisions are the warriors. Warriors are the young men of a tribe; boys become warriors after they are circumcised. Thus decisions are made by elders, the head of the kraal, and by fathers in a tribe.
Politically, prior to 1961 the British ruled over Tanganyika. Many of the Maasai people were not completely aware of British government because they maintained rule over themselves. Tepilit depicts a political scene where his father had no idea that the British ruled over Tanganyika. The Maasai were unaware because of the subtle way that the British used the chiefs to create and carry out the policies that the British wanted. This method of government, constructed in such a way led Tepilit’s father to be ignorant of the leadership until it ended in 1961. Tepilit’s father, however, was correct on a smaller scale because Maasailand was not under direct influence of the British rule. Tepilit even states that one Maasai rule infers that if direct interference occurs then “Rebellion would be inevitable” (Saitoti 41).
Tepilit’s father, as the head of the kraal participates in all decision of the clan. A kraal is a village of huts that are surrounded by bushes of thorns that are used to keep predators away. Whenever an important decision needs to made the head of the kraal will gather the warriors and youth in order to consult with them on the matter. ...


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...ented his father, for sending him to school,ended up enjoying learning so much that he wished to pursue higher education after completing the eighth grade. When Tepilit asks for his father’s permission to further his education his father tell him that while school is a good thing he does not want Tepilit to be away for so long as to forget the ways of the Maasai.
Within their settlements, the Maasai lead themselves without the need of an outside political source. The absolute head of the kraal is the main decision maker. When the head is making a decision he uses the elders and warriors in the route to a major decision. Fathers in the Maasai culture decide whether or not to introduce their children into adulthood through circumcision.



Works Cited
Saitoti, Tepilit Ole. The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1986.



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