Who are the Maasai

The word Maasai means my people. Maa means the language. The Maasai tribe is comprised of sixteen sub-tribes or Iloshom: in Maasai Language. They include: Ildamat, Ilpurko, Ilkeekonyokie, Iloitai, Ilkaputiei, Ilkankere, Isiria, Ilmoitanik, Iloodokilani, Iloitokitoki, Ilarusa, Ilmatatapato, Ilwuasinkishu, Kore, Parakuyu, and Ilkisonko, commonly referred to as Isikirari. There are also other tribes which share similar cultural practices suce as Iltorobo, Samburur tribe & the Ilchamus but was assimilated by other sections. A majority of the Maasai population lives in Kenya. Sections such as Isikirari, Parakuyu, Kore and Ilarusa lives in Tanganyika
ORIGIN & MIGRATION & SETTLEMENT: The Maasai people are a nomadic-pastoralists community spread across the south rift-valley in East Africa. Scholars argue that the Maasai originally migrated from the Nile basin in Southern Sudan. But according to oral history, the Maasai are believed to have originated from Nile valley in Egypt. Today, the Maasai occupy distinct areas in both Kenya and Tanzania and number over three million (although not all Maasai participate the national censuses in the respective countries due to traditional taboos, furthermore, in Tanzania enumeration of people is not done based on ethnicity). In Kenya, they occupy Narok, Transmara, OlKejuado, Laikipia, South of Lake Baringo, and parts of the Nakuru & Molo districts, as well as the Naivasha areas of their former traditional territories. In Tanzania, they settled the northern part of the country in the outskirts of Moshi and Arusha, areas surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Reserve.
CULTURE: The Maasai are one of the most cherished tribes in East Africa and around the world. A noble and dignified people, they have proudly maintained their authentic traditional lifestyle and cultural identity despite pressures of the modern world. They live a nomadic lifestyle keeping cattle, sheep and goats, wearing traditional clothes, and living in small villages called manyattas, which are circular arrangements of mud huts.
Typically, the Maasai diet includes meat, milk & cattle Blood. All life aspects of the Maasai is centered on the cattle. Virtually all social roles and status derive from the relationship of individuals to their cattle. Cow’s milk, together with blood, is the staple food of the Maasai. Once a month, blood is taken from a healthy cow by shooting a small arrow into the neck. This blood is then mixed with fermented milk in a gourd which has been washed with a burnt wood from a special herb to prevent spoilage and add aroma.
Cattle are very special. One can give his cow or bull a special name and trains them to comprehend. The Maasai sing songs of praise and love to their cattle. Cattle are only slaughtered during special ceremonies and for special visitors.
Origin of Maasai cattle: Cattle are very sacred. Maasai believed that their supreme god (Enkai) gives cattle. The quantity of cattle one owns is a measure of wealth, prestige and honour. In the beginning, the Maasai did not have any cattle. One day god (Enkai) called Maasinta, who was the first Maasai, and said to him: “I want you to make a large enclosure, and when you have done so, come back and inform me.” Maasinta went and did as he was instructed, and came back to report what he had done. Next, God said to him:
“Tomorrow, very early in the morning, I want you to go and stand against the outside wall of the house for I will give you something called cattle. But when you see or hear anything do not be surprised. Keep very silent.”
Very early next morning, Maasinta went to wait for what was to be given him. He soon heard the sound of thunder and God released a long leather thong from heaven to earth. Cattle descended down this thong into the enclosure. The surface of the earth shook so vigorously that his house almost fell over. Maasinta was gripped with fear, but did not make any move or sound. While the cattle were still descending, the Dorobo, who was a house-mate of Maasinta, woke up from his sleep. He went outside and on seeing the countless cattle coming down the strap, he was so surprised that he said “Ayieyieyie!”, an exclamation of utter shock. On hearing this, God took back the thong and the cattle stopped descending. God then said to Maasinta, thinking he was the one who had spoken: “Is it that these cattle are enough for you? I will never again do this to you, so you had better love these cattle in the same way I love you.” That is why the Maasai love cattle very much. Source: Maasai intellectual property initiative