Welcome to Maasai Crafts – Maasai People Tribe & Culture, Language, Maasai Arts & Crafts in Kenya & Tanzania, Maasai Warriors.
Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress. The Maasai speak the Maa language (ɔl Maa), a member of the Nilo – Saharan family that is related to Dinka and Nuer languages. Some have become educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili and English. The Maasai population has been reported as numbering 841,622 in Kenya in the 2009 census, compared to 377,089 in the 1989 census.
The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age – old customs. An Oxfam study has suggested that the Maasai could pass on traditional survival skills such as the ability to produce food in deserts and scrub lands that could help populations adapt to climate change.
Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their villages to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle, in return for a fee and while on your safari in Kenya you can not miss visiting the Maasai. They are considered one of the tallest people in the world, with an average height of 6 ft 3 inches according to some reports.
Starting with a 1904 treaty, and followed by another in 1911, Maasai lands in Kenya were reduced by 60 percent when the British evicted them to make room for settler ranches, subsequently confining them to present-day Samburu, Laikipia, Kajiado and Narok districts.
Maasai in Tanganyika (now mainland Tanzania) were displaced from the fertile lands between Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, and most of the fertile highlands near Ngorongoro in the 1940s. More land was taken to create wildlife reserves and national parks: Amboseli National Park, Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park and Tsavo in Kenya and Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire and Serengeti National Park in what is now Tanzania.
Maasai are pastoralist and have resisted the urging of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. They have demanded grazing rights to many of the national parks in both countries.
The Maasai people stood against slavery and lived alongside most wild animals with an aversion to eating game and birds. Maasai land now has East Africa’s finest game areas. Maasai society never condoned traffic of human beings, and outsiders looking for people to enslave avoided the Maasai.
Essentially there are twenty two geographic sectors or sub tribes of the Maasai community, each one having its own customs, appearance, leadership and dialects. These subdivisions are known as ‘nations’ or’ iloshon’in the Maa language: the Keekonyokie, Damat, Purko, Wuasinkishu, Siria, Laitayiok, Loitai, Kisonko, Matapato, Dalalekutuk, Loodokolani, Kaputiei, Moitanik, Ilkirasha, Samburu, Lchamus, Laikipia, Loitokitoki, Larusa, Salei, Sirinket and Parakuyo.