The Maasai Tribe in Tanzania
Who are the Maasai?
- The Maasai tribe are a fascinationg group of people living in East Africa (particularly in Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania). Most are familiar with the tall and handsome warriors dressed in bright red blankets and carrying spears. They live in small villages called "enkang" though often the word "manyatta" is used by tourists. Each "enkang" is covered within a thorn fence to protect the tribe and their cattle from predators such as Lions.
- Their houses are made by the women from sticks and cow dung. Maasai homes are typically oblong in shape with rounded corners and low ceilings. Construction typically takes four to eight days. Traditionally there are no windows and no real chimney, just a small hole in the roof near the fireplace. As a result it is dark inside.
- Warriors (all the young men in our community) are in charge of protecting livestock from predators and enemies. Women and children look after goats and sheep. Elders keep peace and harmony in their community.
Maasai Music & Dance
Maasai music traditionally consists of rhythms provided by a chorus singing harmonies while an "olaranyani" (song leader) sings the melody. Women chant lullabies and hum songs. Singing and dancing often occur around ceremonies.
The Maasai dance is called "adamu" (the jumping dance) and is performed when a circle is formed by the warriors, and one or two at a time will enter the center to begin jumping while never letting their heels touch the ground. The Maasai are usually very friendly with travelers. At times they dance and sing to welcome visitors.
The main garment worn by the Maasai is the "shuka," which is a basic piece of fabric that can be worn in a variety of ways. It was initially made out of animal skins, but cotton is now the main material. The fabric is rubbed a dye to make it red.
Above all, the Maasai are cattle herders. Every part of their life is associated with cattle. They meet almost all their needs from their cattle. They eat meat and drink milk and blood. Cattle are also the main sign of wealth.
The Maasai people are not hunters and that's why they are allowed to live in the Ngorongoro area with the wild animals.
Allan Njamakuya (Owner of Serengeti Vacationland Safari & Kilimanjaro Treks) was born and raised in Arusha-Tanzania, where his family is a Maasai Tribe.