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  • Writer's pictureBrooke

Masai Culture

Updated: Mar 2, 2019

The area in Kenya where I live is called the Masai Mara which is a very big area that is known for their safaris and game parks. The people I work with are called Masai. Similar to Native Americans, they are native Kenyans who live very traditionally in little civilization.

The Masai people live very differently from other Kenyans. In general, they are the most traditional of the ethnic groups that remain. They are herders- which means they take great pride in "shepherding" their cows and goats. They live close to nature in small huts or houses and live close to lions, giraffes, and elephants taking pride in their ability to fend off animals of danger.

In Masai culture the men most respected are "warriors". To be a warrior, a man must be circumcised in public at a ceremony without flinching or making any noise around the age of 12-15. Then they live apart from their village in the wild, fending off lions, and growing out their hair. They will live separate from their community protecting the other community members and fighting off animals to prove their manliness until ten years have passed and they can come back and get married.

In Masai culture, men are highly regarded and women take the domestic roles like cooking and cleaning. It is common for a man to have many wives (4 or 5) and many young girls age (13-18) end up marrying very old men. Women are sold for cows- which are the pride and honor of the Masai people.

Traditionally cows and goats are the way the Masai people show their wealth and make great trades. A traditional village's houses surround the cows so they will be protected during the night. And traditionally a Masai's diet consisted of meat, cow milk, and cow blood (as well as some rice/porridge).

The Masai women create beautiful, bright colored jewelry and the Masai warrior men wear bright red and black jackets. The women know how to dance and the men can jump very high.

Before coming here, I read about the Masai culture and was very intimidated. I wondered if the Masai would be mean or unloving. Yet since I have been in the Masai, I have met very loving, friendly, and giving people. Men in the Masai do not disrespect women by yelling, commenting, or whistling. They do not try to touch women. They are very polite. Both men and women greet each other daily- stranger or friend- by saying Jambo or asking how others are doing. Masai men are very helpful and help their community and look out for the babies and children as well as older women. Overall, it is a very respectful culture and everyone I have met has been so kind.

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