The Masai Tribe is one of the most popular and unique tribes know all over Africa due to their long preserved culture. Although the entry of civilisation and western cultural influences have eroded cultural values in different parts of Africa, the Massai people have held on to their traditional way of life. This has made them the culture pride of Kenya.
The Masai’s distinctive culture, dress style and strategic territory along the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania makes them one of Africa’s most internationally famous tourist attractions.
The Maasai people reside in both Kenya and Tanzania, living along the border of the two countries. They are a smaller tribe, accounting for only about 0.7 percent of Kenya’s population, with a similar number living in Tanzania.
It is widely believed that the ancestors of the Masai tribe originated from North Africa, migrating south along the Nile Valley and arriving in Northern Kenya in the middle of the 15th century. They continued southward, conquering all of the tribes in their path, extending through the Rift Valley and arriving in Tanzania at the end of 19th century. As they migrated, they attacked their neighbours and raided cattle. By the end of their journey, the Maasai had taken over almost all of the land in the Rift Valley as well as the adjacent land from Mount Marsabit to Dodoma, where they settled to graze their cattle.
The warrior is of great importance as a source of pride in the Maasai culture. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the world’s last great warrior cultures. From boyhood to adulthood, young Maasai boys begin to learn the responsibilities of being a man (helder) and a warrior. The role of a warrior is to protect their animals from human and animal predators, to build kraals (Maasai homes) and to provide security to their families.
Through rituals and ceremonies, including circumcision, Maasai boys are guided and mentored by their fathers and other elders on how to become a warrior. Although they still live their carefree lives as boys – raiding cattle, chasing young girls, and game hunting – a Maasai boy must also learn all of the cultural practices, customary laws and responsibilities he will require as an elder.
An elaborate ceremony tagged Eunoto – is usually performed to “graduate” the young man from their young and childish and carefree lifestyle to that of a warrior. Beginning life as a warrior means a young man can now settle down and start a family, acquire cattle and become a responsible elder. In his late years, the middle-aged warrior will be elevated to a senior and more responsible elder during the Olng’eshere ceremony.