Learn About Massai Tribe – 10 Interesting Tanzania Cultural Facts!

Written By

African Scenic Safaris
29/04/2022
Safaris

Introduction

Tanzania, an east African country is home to more than 120 tribes. From them, the Maasai Tribes are known for their physical beauty—not just their lithe, graceful physiques but their unique garb and body ornamentation.

Apart from benefiting from the vast and diverse Tanzania Safaris and serene beaches across the country, Tanzania also attracts a large pool of crowds from all over the world for Cultural Tourism.

Tanzania Cultural Tours has started to play a crucial role in uplifting the Tanzanian tourism industry. It has helped boost the number of tourists incoming into the nation resulting in economic development.

Not only this has led to the country’s upliftment but also delegated rural communities to benefit from the ever-rising tourism industry.

Tanzania Cultural Tourism enables tourists to explore authentic, endemic Tanzanian culture, local tradition, folklore, arts and crafts, rituals, ceremonies, and a lot more giving an insight into the everyday lives of the people with addiction to this it provides exposure to the wildlife treasure of the country.

With so many wonderful ways to explore the vibrant and deep-rooted Tanzanian culture, we are here to provide you with a brief note on the incredible tribe of the Maasais, which is an appeal on its own. Their age-old beliefs, customs, traditional houses, and unique sense of dressing never fail to impress keen tourists.

A cultural stroll in the native villages of the tribes gives a broad idea of the lives of the Maasai people. The Maasai Tribe comprises nomadic and pastoralist people, who are a fusion of North Africans and Nilotic tribes originating from the northern part of Turkana lake in Kenya, which they left in the 15th century to inhabit large parts of Kenya and northern Tanzania.

The Maasai tribe is best known all over the world for its unique and interesting costume style and its settlements near the game reserves and conservation areas. The Maasais have plenty of unique characteristics in their culture and some of these have been listed below, including their dress, diet, and way of life.

Maasai Homes

Women are the ones who are responsible to build their shelters using readily available materials like cow dung mixed with mud and sticks for structuring the walls and the roof. The huts are mostly circular or loaf-shaped. The huts are fenced and built by the men to protect their cattle from wild animals during the night. 

Maasai Language

Maasais are named after their language Maa language. It is primarily the spoken language. Many people of the tribe also speak Swahili and English, which are the official language of Tanzania and Kenya.

Maasai Costume

People of the Maasai community typically wrap themselves with a red sheet (Shuka) which may also be interchanged with black and blue colour depending on the occasion. Multiple pieces of jewellery are worn over it. Young men tend to wear black for several months after their circumcision ceremony. 

Maasai members have stretched earlobes that they adorn with rows of beads as well as a single earring to weigh it.

Maasai Follows Polygamy

Maasai women often enter polygamous marriages with wealthier men in the community. Often, these marriages are arranged by the tribe’s elders. The men are quite elder as compared to the wives which means the Maasai Tribe has a lot of windows. They are not expected to remarry, either. The primary role of the Maasai women is to have and raise children.

Maasai Eating Habits

Maasai people fulfill their protein and calorie intake from milk and meat from their cattle. Recently, they have started introducing maize meals, potatoes, rice, and cabbage into their diet.

Maasais believe raw blood from cattle to be rich in protein content. They consume blood on various occasions like when they are sick, have just been circumcised, or have just given birth.

Cattle Symbolises Prosperity

Maasais spend most of their time gathering cows. They believe the more cows the more your wealth and the more prosperous you are.  They rely greatly on their cattle for milk, meat, and cheese, and the clothes and mattresses they wear or use are often made out of cowhide.

Maasai Calendar

Maasais follow their calendar. There are three main seasons- long rains, short rains, and seasons of drizzles.

Maasai Religion

The Maasai people are monotheistic, and worship their God named Engai or Enkai. They believe their God to have two different forms.

  • Enkai- Narok, The Black God, good and beloved. He is worshipped in the form of thunder and rain, bringing grass and prosperity.
  • Enkai-na-Nyokie, the Red God, vengeful, brings famine and hunger. He is found in lightning and is identified with the dry season.

Today, most of the Maasais are Christians and very few are Muslims.

Maasai Hair

Both the women and men Maasais clean and shave their heads to celebrate rites of passage such as circumcision and marriage, this symbolizes a fresh start as one begins a new phase in their life. The Maasai warriors are allowed to wear long hair, which they weave in thinly braided strands.

Maasai Music and Dance

The Maasai music is mostly vocal without any instruments involved except for the large horns used for certain songs. The lead vocalist starts singing wherein the rest members respond with one unanimous call in acknowledgment.

The peak season for singing and dancing is during the rains, which is of course a favorable time to celebrate important passages of life such as circumcision and marriage. Maasais jump and dance to celebrate and express happiness and merrymaking.   

Conclusion

Maasai people are known for living a simple life and sticking to their traditions. If you want to learn more about the life of the Massai people, here is a book that you can read written by Eti Dayan named – One of Them.

Tanzania Cultural Tours gives a wonderful opportunity for all its visitors in knowing about this incredible tribe and see their lives nearby. If you love learning about different cultures and traditions prevailing in the world, then Tanzania Safari is the best way to describe it.

For further information, you may also visit our website at https://africanscenicsafaris.com/cultural-safaris

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