In this article, Lesley, a woman who spent a couple of months here with us, explains her experience with the Masaais! Read it and discover how they live!!
I arrived in Moshi, Tanzania mid December working as a volunteer for TATU project. The project is helping the Community Msitu wa Tembo where amongst other projects there is the Women’s Group of approximately 100 Women from different tribes in the area. My work was to help the Maasai Women to arrange and sell their handmade jewellery. My meeting with the Maasai Women has been incredible. They are so friendly with a great force of warmth and well being. We had meetings in the Village once or twice a week and they came walking (taking them 1-2 hours) with their handicrafts. What most caught my attention is their joy of life. Hopefully I can return this winter.
The Maasai are nomads, they have their main village and the men, wrapped in colourful fabrics and wearing necklaces, earrings, and the rubber sandals made from tires, go off with their cattle to graze. Whilst the women, with their traditional dress of colourful materials and decked with their beautiful handmade jewellery (earrings, necklaces, bangles and bracelets which are in abundance), stay at home. The ears are pierced with the lobe being the biggest hole and another 2 or three smaller ones around the top of the ear.
They have all the responsibilities of the household and hold the daily structure altogether. They educate their children, milk the cows, distribute the milk, fetch the wood and water, make the food and make and sell their jewellery and handicrafts to bring in extra money for the family and make sure their family is fed and well.
They usually keep their heads shaved inspired by lion cubs and Lionesses. The lion is an important symbol for the Maasai. One myth says that for boys to become adults, they need to go alone for 2 months in the Forest and kill a lion symbolizing their strength and courage; nowadays they are sent out on their own for a year.
For weddings, the parents usually choose their sons’ first wife and his sister will build the hut (made from cow pat and argyle) for them.
Maasais are polygamous and it then becomes their first wife’s duty to build the hut for the second wife and so on. The huts end up forming a “boma” encircling the cattle. You know the number of wives a Maasai has by how many bracelets he is wearing around his ankles and each wife will wear the same amount.
They eat wild plants and use their knowledge of the plants to make their medicine and help with their nutrition, as well as milk and blood from the cattle. Their staple diet is meat (cow, goat and chicken), the cattle skins are used as blankets to sleep on in their huts.
The Maasai are very religious and, strong believers, they pray for their family, the milk and food that they eat, for their cattle, and for the foreigners that they meet.
Their culture is serene and in total harmony with their environment.
We could be inspired by them to balance our frantic Western style of life.