Arts and culture

The Culture and Traditions of the Maasai Community in Kenya

Maasai culture and traditions in Kenya are unique and captivating. This traditional tribe has managed to maintain their way of life despite government pressures in the 21st century.

Maasai peoples lived as nomadic herders, dependent on their cattle for food. When moving between villages or bomas, the cattle and herds would be protected in a thorn hedge known as the Maasai kraal; an essential aspect of their culture.

Their diet was heavily dependent on the meat and blood of their cattle. Cattle blood was eaten, drunk, and used for ceremonies; occasionally the blood of bulls, goats, and lambs would also be drunk.

Maasai culture is complex and intricate, from their diet to an intricate cultural system passed down through generations. This includes their oral literature which contains myths, legends, folktales, riddles and proverbs that have been handed down through generations.

Maasai society is strongly patriarchal, with men speaking for women and making decisions within both families and communities. Up until seven, boys and girls live together, remaining close to their mothers throughout life.

Maasai men are traditional herders and warriors. Their role within society is to take care of their herds, defend against enemies and represent their community. They are highly respected and feared by other communities within their area for taking care of their animals.

Their culture is also founded upon religion and tradition. They believe that Enkai, the high god who created the world, chose them to be his chosen people. This god serves as their ancestor and they remain grateful for his gift of cattle which they believe fell from heaven and brought them here on earth.

Maasai culture has a long and storied tradition of initiation rituals that test young boys’ strength. Beginning at four years old, they remove the lower incisors with a knife; upon reaching twelve to fifteen years old they undergo another rite of passage which involves tattooing their stomach and arms with hundreds of small cuts followed by burning with hot coals.

At thirteen, they undergo a rite of passage which involves their nose being pierced with a spear. Afterward, they are given their own names.

Maasai are an incredibly beautiful people, proud of their traditions, beliefs and customs. Despite many attempts by others and governments to change them, this hardworking tribe has managed to preserve its culture and traditions intact.

By maintaining their culture and traditions, the Maasai have gained international recognition and are now considered an iconic tribe. They have become popular tourist attractions as well as symbols of pop culture.

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