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The story of the Masai, Kenya

The masai people represent one of the oldest tribes in Kenya, originating from Southern Sudan. 

There are three ethnic groups. The Bantu, the Cushites and the Nilost. Nilost is once again has three subdivisions. The Riverlake Nilost who are fishermen, the Highland Nilost who are farmers and the The Plain Nilost – who are the masai nomads. Up to this day they live in semi-nomadic circumstances and their culture carries tribal rules. Circumcison is still practiced by the masai for boys when they are 19 and for girls when they reach 12 years of age even though it’s illegal in Kenya and in the rest of the world. Men get married at 24 years of age first to a girl chosen by the parents based on a dowry cost of 10 cows. At 19 years of age they used to have to go through a ‘becoming a warrior’ stage where they had to kill a lion to prove that they are strong man. That used to be the masai warrior but it has changed over time due to the protection of the animals. They practice polygamy, they chose the second, third and so on wives as long as they can present 10 cows per wife. One wife also equals one house so if a man has 10 wives also has 10 houses and he goes in between them. They say man look for girls who have more necklaces on their neck which is a good indication that the girl is hard working since they piece the beads of the necklaces together with their own hands. A girl’s work ethic is very important for the masai men since the saying goes that women do everything from building the hut they live in, they take care of the children, the husband, and the goats. Local Kenyans say masai man live like kings, they don’t do anything apart from playing ‘Draft’ in the shades of the trees. 

Masai people actually live longer than other Kenyans as they don’t suffer from lifestyle diseases. They don’t go to hospital, each village has their own medicine man who treats everything from broken bone to malaria, they create their own medicine from plants. 

Masai believes in their own god named Gengei. They pray for Gengei and they slaughter a goat or a cow as a sacrifice to be made for the community.

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The government encourages the masai to leave their semi-nomadic lifestyle but they are loyal to their own culture. Some girls run away from forced bad marriages and go to aid centers that the government set up for them. Primary school is now mandatory so masai children are presented more opportunities in life. With the educational support from the government and by the young generation of masai going to school the government predicts that the masai community will cease to exist in 15 years time.

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