Who are the Maasai people?

Historical Maasai is the mixture of Nilotes people of the Nile area and Hamites of North Africa.

Despite that connection, the Maasai are the common residents of Tanzania and Kenya.

Maasai people are typical nomads who move with their cattle from one land to the other.

With their large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. Maasai have been moving all the time in search of pasture and water.

Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya are home to these communities. Either in Ngorongoro , Serengeti or Maasai Mara .

Maasai have been living for centuries.  No wonder all famous parks in northern Tanzania are named in the Maasai language.

Technology and life are changing at a high pace all over the world.

Whether in Africa or somewhere in Southern America or Asia changes are inevitable.

But despite these changes, Maasai people have been affected very little by globalization.

Maasai still live according to their custom and tradition.

An ordinary observer can detect a slight change in their life, especially for Maasai who are in urban.

Cities like Arusha, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Zanzibar attract youth from local Maasai villages.

The culture of Maasai is one of the best attractions for visitors visiting Kenya or Tanzania.

Their unique style of wardrobe, beliefs, and other practices are still intact at large.

Their uniqueness is fascinating for many people coming from other cultures.

Now let’s dive into Interesting Facts about Maasai People.

1. Believe in a Single God with Two Faces

Maasai people believe in a single God named Engai, who has two distinct faces, resembling God or Satan.

The former Narok brings rain and welfare of all kinds, (is a good and benevolent Black God.

While the latter is Nanyokei. Is associated with the long dry seasons and is the origin of all troublesome situations for them.

Though despite this belief nowadays some Maasai are converting to Christianity and Islam.

Though the transformation has taken a long time to occur. Until now Maasai communities still practice traditional religion.

2. Cattle are the Symbol of Wealth

Maasai believe that all cattle have belonged to them since creation.

The Enkai or Engai (God)  in the Maa Language made the Maasai custodian of all the world’s cattle.

Though not only Maasai own cattle in East Africa. The Luo, Kurya, and Sukuma people also own large herds of cattle too.

Having many cattle in Maasai communities is a symbol of wealth.

Cattle are the medium of exchange and nowadays Maasai rely on them as the source of income.

Having a large number of cattle gives access to join alliances, and pay for dowry during the marriage for youth.

Remember meat and blood is the primary food for Maasai. They drink blood and eat roasted meat.

There is the belief that drinking milk and eating meat is the sacred act that binds Maasai with their spirits.

3. Maasai are Patriarchal & Polygamous

Maasai communities are led by men. They have traditional leaders named Laigwanani or Chiefs.

Age practice is still the backbone of this culture. The separation of labor is as follows

  • Women construct Maasai huts and are also responsible for collecting firewood.
  • Fetching water, Milking the herds of cattle, and cooking for the family.
  • Young boys look after the livestock while the warriors maintain peace.
  • Older men oversee daily operations in the community.
  • Morani is the most important group of the Maasai people.
  • Well, known as the warriors (morani.  Morani passes on their ritual ceremonies from one generation to the other.

4. Hunting and Killing Lions is a Tradition.  But no longer Practised.

Back in the day killing of a lion by Maasai men ( youth)  proved as the warrior way of life.

The young Maasai could kill either alone or in a group by using the spear as a weapon.

The killing of lions was associated with passing rituals and they were supposed to kill only male lions.

The reason behind not killing female lions (lionesses) was considered sacred. ( descendant, ancestry )

This practice is no longer available in Maasai communities after the regulatory intervention.

Nowadays Maasai are part of the movement for sustainable conservation lion population.

The best project that involves the Masai  people in Lion Conservation includes the Kope Lion in Tanzania 

5. Unique Wardrobe ( Maasai Shuka )

Maasai are not only known for their physical beauty, tall and most of them are black with white teeth.

Maasai wear iconic garments well known as “Maasai Shuka”. Before the introduction of woven cloth.

Maasai wear clothing made from calf leather and sheepskin.

Easy to identify from far, Maasai people wear red, black, blue, and pink colors.

The color patterns of their clothing are quite unique and most popular across East Africa.

The uniqueness of their garment went mainstream to the extent of being copied.

International brands have modified the Maasai jewelry and present new designs.

Maasai wardrobes now are available across the world.

Extra tip for Maasai clothing is also used to identify social ranks, age, and sex.

It’s common to find young men (moran) wearing black colors and using chalk to decorate their faces.

Maasai also produce belts, and neckless and decorates sheep or cowskins for ceremonial purposes.

Maasai people are so generous if you find to meet with them.

Apart from the discussed facts above, these are more extra tips about the Maasai people in Africa.

  • They’re named after their own language “Maa”
  • Maasai are part of Nilotic communities of Africa
  • They live in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa
  • Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Manyara, Tarangire, and Maasai Mara named by the Maasai language
  • Maasai people fall under sixteen clan ” illusion”
  • Maasai people practiced land management for centuries.

You might be interested in visiting Maasai’s homes (boma’s ) to learn and experience their life.

We customize the best trip for either in Tanzania along Ngorongoro or in Kenya.

But also you can visit the cultural tourism program while in Arusha after your safari. But also a combined trip is possible.

Feel free to ask help from our team either for planning or customization of your unique trip. Contact us today.

You might also have questions about how much a safari costs in Tanzania. Here is the link for more information.

We invite you to read more of our best articles about an African safari.