physically related, and also in many other forms related to the Samburu and Turkana. The
Maasai have a relatively complex culture and traditions. In fact, for many years they were
unheard of. By the late 1800’s we soon discovered more about the Maasai, mostly from
their oral histories.
It is presumed that the Maasai came from the north, probably from the region of
the Nile Valley in Sudan. Also presumed is that they left this area sometime between the
fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, migrating southwards towards he Great Rift Valley.
According to the Maasai oral history, they came from a crater or deep valley somewhere
to the north, at a place called Endikir-e-Kerio . Although many scholars have called
this place the southeastern region of Lake Turkana, many of the oral histories say that
they may have come from further up north, near the Nile river. Whichever location this
is, the migration was caused by a dry spell. According to the Maasai a bridge was
built, and after half the livestock and people had left the dry area, the bridge collapsed,
leaving back the other half of the population. These people later climbed out of the valley,
and were helped by the present day Somali, Borana and Rendille peoples. The Maasai later
entered Kenya, and moved south through the Rift Valley, where there was pasture for
their cattle. Because there was very little surface water, the Maasai resorted to pastoralism
instead of agriculture. The Maasai have adapted to their environment to ensure survival
and the maintenance of their culture.
The Maasai have adapted to the conditions of their environment through their
religious rituals, which function in keeping their political structure, and maintaining cattle
numbers. The idea of religion in the Maasai culture is attatched with the importance they
place on the stages of life. Spear indicates that for the Maasai, God is close yet completely
unknowable. Each ritual transition between age-groups is a step toward old age and
metaphorically a step toward God. According to Emily McAlpin in “The Maasai culture
and Ecological Conditions” the most important event in the ceremony is the
sharing of meat which brings all participants clos...
... middle of paper ...
... one is in this society, the more power attained.
The most common form of sharing goods and distributing them is through allied
kin groups. There is no doubt sometimes disagreements amongst the Maasai people,
therefore most kin groups have an ally kin group. These are useful when a luxury item is
sought after and one group has it and is willing to lend or give it to the other, not a
necessity. When something is needed for survival, the whole society will help.
2004 From Mukogodo To Maasai: Ethnicity and Cultural Change in Kenya (Westview Case Studies in Anthropology), Westview Press, pp. 27-35
2. Hetfield, Johnston
1997 The Maasai of East Africa (Celebrating the Peoples and Civilizations of Africa)
PowerKids Press; 1st ed edition, pp. 9-13
1993 Being Maasai: Ethnicity & Identity in East Afri Ca (Eastern African Studies),
Ohio University Press pp. 214-221
1990 Becoming Kenyans: Socio-economic transformation of the pastoral Maasai (Drylands research series), Acts Press, pp. 193-201
5. Sankan, S.S. Ole
1985 The Maasai ,Kenya Literature Bureau, pp. 77-84
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