Maasai - Settlements

The significant residential groupings are the locality, the village, and the polygynous homestead, or joint family. The locality typically corresponds to a natural water-catchment area, within which interaction is most frequent and elders meet to discuss the issues that affect the community at large and the villages within it. Villages are dispersed throughout the locality, but have little social identity of their own. They are built primarily as a protection against the dangers of the bush at night. During the day, the cattle go out to graze, and social life extends to the wider neighborhood and locality. The significant unit within the village is the cluster of huts and stock corrals that comprise the joint-family homestead, of which there are typically four or five within each village. It is the joint family that has the greatest continuity, and the family head has almost total autonomy in handling its internal affairs. Such families may migrate to another locality at any time, leaving their huts and village space to be occupied by any newcomers to the village. Huts and villages tend to be more substantial and permanent in the less nomadic, upland areas.

Contrasting with the elders' villages, both ideologically and in size, are the warrior villages ( manyat ), which are built to protect the area from marauders. Typically, there are three or four warrior villages in any tribal section, and the warriors who are associated with them claim considerable autonomy from the elders and adopt a contrasting life-style that emphasizes their dependence on one another and their lack of domesticity.

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