The Maasai People of Kenya

Karibu (Welcome). 

The Maasai greets you warmly in Swahili, the national language of Kenya. As you interact with them, you will hear another language being spoken. It’s Maa, the Maasai’s own language which is very similar to that of their close cousins in the northern part of the country, the Samburu. These two ethnic groups are among the last in Kenya and Tanzania to have preserved their culture.  

Being a nomadic people, the architectural design of a Maasai house is simple and practical. Oval or circular in shape with one door, women are the house builders while the men, usually gone for many days, take care of the cattle in the field. The wall of the house, made of sticks and grass, is plastered with cow dung mixed with mud. So too is the roof. 

Goats live indoors with their owners and it is not uncommon to see these animals being milked by family members, even children, on demand. They would position themselves under the teat and squeeze, squirting the milk directly into their mouths. 

Theirs is a pastoralist lifestyle but some wheat, maize, beans and potatoes are grown. 

Having many wives and children is considered to be a major accomplishment for Maasai men. Some may have seven wives and more, and one man being the father of two hundred children is not unusual. That man is highly respected in the community.

One of the traditions observed within that ethnic group is that of a spear left standing outside the door of a house, as an indication to all that a man is inside. Whenever a spear is seen, another man is not allowed to enter. He has to wait until the other one leaves. If a husband who was away for an extended period arrives back home and sees a spear beside the door of his wife’s house, he too is not allowed to enter. He will retreat to another house until the owner of the spear leaves, usually before sunrise when he won’t be seen by anyone, then he is free to go home. 

A popular tourist attraction in this region is the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The best time to visit is between July and October when you may observe one of the most incredible sights, namely, the Great Wildebeest Migration. Massive herds of animals cover the Mara grasslands as they make their annual round trip from the Serengeti in Tanzania through the Maasai Mara, following the rain. Although, as acts of nature, there is no guarantee animal river crossings be seen while there, visitors will still be able to see plenty of game hunting during this period.    

In addition to the observation of the animal migration, visiting a Maasai cultural village will be the highlight of a trip to this region. Guests get an opportunity to interact with the friendly Maasai people, sing with them and dance as they learn about the unique culture of one of Kenya’s last remaining ethnic groups. 

Contact Berleen Safaris to help plan your next excursion to Kenya.