THE MASAI referat


The Masai are one of the last stock farmers in East Africa. They settle from the Serengeti to the Bantu-region in Tanzania, one part belongs to Kenya, the other to Tanzania. In Kenya are many (95) different tribes and it became independent from Great Britain in 1963. Tanzania became 1964 independent (since that year it is a confederation of Tanganjika and Sansibar). In the area of Masai are Serengeti, Masai Mara, Amboseli and Lake Manyara. The Masai are estimated at 300 000 and they become more. The language doesn`t have a f'.

Ancestors of the Masai lived in Southern Sudan (today) as hunter-gatherers. It is probably that they knew about agriculture 3000 BC. 900 - 600 BC they began to breed cattle. During their migration southwards they met the Bantu and so they swerved to eastern. There is no political organization in the tribe and usually they remove their under cutting teeth.

1884 the German arrived in eastern Africa and they founded Schutzgebiet Deutsch-Ostafrika'. 1885 Kenya became dependent on Great Britain. 1890 became Tanzania a German colony, 1895 Kenya a British colony. 1946 Tanganjika (today Tanzania) became a region of UNO, administered by Great Britain. 1961 Tanganjika became independent, 1963 Kenya. In the end of the last century many Masai died because of war of succession between Mbatians sons` and many diseases. Most Masai went to the British for help. Thus the first white settlers came to Africa and 1904 the Masai got a north and south reaservation. Later the whites claimed the north reservation and the Masai had to move. The south reservation was divided in Narok, Ngong and Kajiado (these are administrative districts). They exist still nowadays.

Real Masai are Masai who live only from stock farming. Maa-speaking tribes which have agriculture are dispised. There is no tribe of Masai and no political order. Every Maa-speaking group is called Iloschon. This is a independent unit. The Iloschons differ because of dialects and there are many of them. On account of fights between Iloschons often take place.

The Masai-Iloschon is a male-society, the men practice polygyny, blood relationship and a strong system of classes of age (of men) are very important. These classes are: men without circumcision, men with circumcision, young warriors, older warriors, younger elders, older elders, old men. Automatically they get in the next class, always with great ceremonies. In the age of 15 years boys of an area are circumcised and after various exercises they are young warriors. In the age of 25 years they become older warriors and they build the army of the Iloschon. Now it is allowed to look for a bride. After a few years they are younger elders. The older elders (from 40-65) are political very important and they decide in the council of the elders to which all men belong. Old men have no political responsibility, but they have a prominent place because they are close to Enkai. Today it is different. The British determined a nominal headman, before decisions were made together in council of older elders.

Laibon is a priest who conects between Enkai and the people. He gives advices to the warriors and protects them (amulets). He knows the future, is medicineman and very good in making ceremonies. Most he is very rich with much cattle in the herd, but he is no Masai-headman.

Women are subordinated. There are not in the council of older elders and thus they have no important decisions. But there are special, religious ceremonies only for women and in the household they are respected. Women from other tribes are also married. The most important role of a woman is to give birth to sons. Divorce is possible, if the man treats the woman bad. The children live then with their father. Widows live with relatives of their dead man.

Circumcision takes between 12 and 15 years place (girls and boys) place. These operations are surrounded of great ceremonies.

Women have bald heads and young men, too. Old men are proud of their hair and beard. When Masai get their names the hair is shaved for the first time. After the circumcision it gets longer for a time, but at the marriage it is shaved again. The young warriors are very proud of their hair and they do everything for it. After this time it is shaved. Painting with red, white or yellow colour depends on the ceremony and status of the person.

Masai are not nomads, they move cyclic depending on season from one pasture to the next. They have houses through the whole year and live there. Government says, they should totally live at one place, but it is impossible because of the herds.

In course of the years many changes took place. Thus many products of ivory or horn are replaced by plastic, time of military service (warriors) is shorter, self-made clothes are ceremonial clothing, flour must be bought. Money comes from tourism and stock farming (a few years ago nobody would have sold his cattle).

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