Category: Kenyan Tribes

The Masai Tribe: History & culture

Posted By : Asili-Admin/ 140

The Maasai People

Group of Masai Men
Masai men and their traditional way of dressing

The Masai belong to the Nilotic ethnic group and are part of the 47 Kenyan tribes. They migrated into East Africa following the River Nile and finally settled in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley, mainly close to Kenya’s Game Parks like the Masai Mara, Amboseli National Park and Serengeti National Parks to name a few. They are among the few African Tribes that have retained their heritage and culture since the colonial times.

Since the Masai tribe consists mainly of pastoralists, they are famed for their large herds of cattle, their diet of blood and raw meat and needless to say their unique houses, the manyatta (houses built with cow-dung).

The Masai are clan-based and rely on a council of elders to make decisions and settle disputes within the community.               

The Maasai Culture

The Masai culture is very patriarchal, with men having all the right to make decisions on behalf of the clan. The Masai estimate their wealth in the number of cattle one has in his household, the more the cattle the richer you are.

When it comes to marriage, men have the right to marry any woman/ girl they prefer. The man discusses the bride-price with the girl’s father and as soon as it is paid-off the wedding ceremony is initiated. Bride price is paid in form of cattle and gifts.

Recently Kenyan authorities alongside international NGOs have come out against the Masai culture of marrying off very young girls, as young as 13 years old. This has made the maasai tribe to change their marriage traditions.

Moreover the Maasai practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) also came under a lot of backlash, with American celebrities like Angelina Jolie helped create a huge awareness campaign against the practice.

While the young maasai men underwent circumcision as their passage to adulthood. After which they were given the right to own their own manyatta and later on marry.

Masai Dance / Music

the masai cultural dances
Masai cultural dances , Masai jumping dance

The famous masai cultural dances and traditional music is a very vital point in preserving their culture from their rich ancestry.

The music and dances are performed during the following functions:

  • Marriage ceremonies
  • Wedding proposals and paying of bride price
  • Visits from tourists/ new guests into the Masai villages
  • During circumcision ceremonies
  • Funerals

It is a well-known fact that the Masai culture has helped shape the identity of Kenya and Tanzania. They are an integral part of Kenya’s tourism industry, by the promotion of their rich heritage and strong culture, the tourism impact in Kenya’s and Tanzania’s GDP has peaked thanks to the Masai.

Recommended Masai Safari Packages:

Choosing to travel with us, you will get to witness the true wealth of the Masai culture.

We recommend the following tour packages so as to get a good chance of seeing the Masai:

For safari customization, feel free to contact us. We are more than willing to be at your service.

Book Your Next Safari with us !