Top 5 things you should know about the Maasai – Rift Valley News

Maasai moran herding sheep (courtesy)

The Maasai are noted to be extraordinary people, with an extraordinary culture that have survived civilization ever since. Many communities have been noted to have abandoned their culture but Maasai never did. Maasai live in areas of Kenya and Tanzania for over hundred years and graze their precious cattle in both countries to date. Maasai people have been noticed to inhabit the plains of the Great Rift Valley.

Originating from ancient lands and simpler times the Maasai can trace themselves back hundreds of years. But the way they live today still reflects both when and where they came from. Massai culture is so unique in their own way with their customs sometimes thought to be controversial.

Maasai Warriors(courtesy)

Maasai Warriors(courtesy)

Here are 5 things you need to know to get a clearer picture of these fascinating Maasai people;

1. They hunt lions

Hunting lions? Hell no I can never try that, but for Maasai its just normal just like killing that cat to other people. They take lion hunting seriously and they are never hunted for fun and so uncommon as the hunter may even be killed in the process.

They only hunt male lions and leave alone the females which are seen as a great display of courage and strength. In recent years, the lion population has decreased due to diseases and the Maasai have created a new rule that they hunt in groups though still extremely dangerous.

This practice has a deep traditional root that cultivates fearlessness among the tribes’ warriors. These hunts are of great importance to the Maasai people. These people have lived here in this way for centuries and seeing them firsthand will make the rest of the world seem a million miles away.

The Maasai are just one of the amazing things to experience in Tanzania and Kenya.

2. They are over 1 million

According to the 2009 census in Kenya Maasai population is 841,622 and about 800,000 in Tanzania by 2011. Even though they live a simple life they still thrive in spite of the rapidly developing world. According to the 1989 census, the Maasai population was recorded at 377,622 in  number which has increased so  quickly

The Maasai, when their numbers were much smaller, are thought to have traveled down from the Nile Valley in the North. Because their language is a spoken one, they have carried this and other pieces of history down through oral tradition for centuries.

3. Their language is called Maa

Did you know that the Maasai language is called Maa? It is also spoken and not generally written. With a strong oral tradition, Maasai people have almost no reasons to write anything down at all. It carries a lot of weight and in fact, they named themselves after their language, Maa. Maasai means ” people who speak Maa”.

Another interesting fact is that Maa is related to the ‘Latuko language’ spoken in Southern Sudan. This makes the idea that the Maasai originated from the area even more likely.

4. Their Cow means their lives

If you have ever seen a Maasai person, not owning a cow then he must be not really right. Maasai people can sacrifice anything so that their cows can thrive. Cows come before anything else for the Maasai people. The Maasai men take great pride in herding as their cows are their most prized possessions.

Since the Maasai people are spread across the vast expense of land, they are able to meet their tribesmen from far away thus presents them with the opportunity to use their cattle to trade. A large heard of cattle is a sign of wealthy in the same way a Lambo or SUV might be to other people.

5. They are nomads

maasai people are known to be pastoralist as they move from place to place looking for greener pastures and water for their animals. The land among Maasai is still communal and anyone is free to graze their animals on and due to seasonal rotation they are forced to move time to time.

Recently there have been whispers that consumerist nations should pay attention to this sort of seasonal rotation. The reason is that it’s seen as much more sustainable than the ‘take, take, take’ attitude of many developed countries.

The nomadic way of life goes back to the roots of all human history which makes Maasai extra special. They and a handful of other peoples across the world are our last living link to our distant past.

SOURCE: Worktheworld

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Categories: Maasai

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2 replies


  1. Top 4 ways to spot a form, four leaver – RIFT VALLEY NEWS
  2. What only a Maasai can do that no one else can – RIFT VALLEY NEWS

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