Maasai - History and Cultural Relations

According to oral traditions, the Maasai migrated from the north to their present area, probably before A . D . 1800, and adopted a boy they found there, who became the ancestor of the Loonkidongi dynasty of prophets. From this time on, and under the patronage of successive prophets, these oral traditions relate to the military dominance of the Maasai over their neighbors, who emulated Maasai warrior practices. This military emphasis led in the earlier period to internecine competition between the Maasai and the more peripheral Maa peoples, and then, following a disastrous cattle epidemic and famine in the 1880s, to civil war among the Maasai proper, who were seeking to recover their fortunes at each other's expense.

The civil wars were ended by colonial intervention in the areas, which were split between British and German rule—now Kenya and Tanzania, respectively. The two halves have developed separately since then, while retaining close cultural links as "one people." In Kenya, it was largely Maasai land that was alienated for European colonization through two controversial treaties. These treaties confined the Maasai to their present reserve, where they have remained largely isolated from change, even since independence in 1963. A volume on the (Kisonko) Maasai written by a German military administrator, M. Merker (1904), provides the most lucid account of the Maasai of early colonial Tanzania. Since then, the demise of the system of warrior villages in Tanzania suggests greater administrative interference into their internal affairs than was the case in Kenya. More recently, the Maasai as a nomadic people have proved an intractable problem for the Tanzanian government's policy of accommodating dispersed populations in settled villages during the 1970s ("villagization").

Also read article about Maasai from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: