MAASAI MARA – In the late afternoon, under dull skies, we visited a Maasai village. The Maasai are nomads – they tend cattle which are their primary index of wealth. We find the Maasai friendly and welcoming. Their culture is sufficiently binding that they tend to return to their roots after being educated, and even after travel to the US. Our Maasai guide in the Maasai Mara, Ping, had spent six months in Orlando as a consultant to the Safari feature at Disney World. They are under severe pressure to change some of their ways, For example it was a coming of age rite for a young Maasai man to kill a lion. The Maasai population is East Africa is around 400,000, the lion population is around 25,000 so the numbers no longer support this practice. The Maasai also historically practiced female circumcision, a practice that has appropriately been banned by the governments of Kenya and Tanzania. Here’s a link the the Wikipedia entry on the Maasai: The Maasai
One interesting theory on the origin of the Maasai that we heard from several guides: A Roman legion was sent to explore the sources of the Nile and vanished. The theory is that legion trained a local tribe as legionnaires and that the Maasai descended from them. The Maasai wear red cloaks (colour reserved for soldiers in the Roman army) draped like togas and use spears which resemble the Roman Pilum and short swords which resemble the Roman Gladius.
Nancy and Maasai:
Maasai child at play:
We were taken into a Maasai house – they are constructed of acacia branches driven into the ground and covered with cow dung. There is one very small window – 6 cm or so in diameter.
Maasai children in the door of a Maasai house.