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Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Art & Culture

A Journey into the Hinterlands of Magnificent Maasai


Riddles for Evening Snacks

Maasai people love spending their evenings practicing riddles. Two young people would bet their cattle into the game and engage in a duel. The gruelling riddles are nonetheless mindboggling.  Traditionally, the initiator asks oyiote which means “are you ready?” The audience cheers with ee-wuo which can be translated into “it has come.” The answer to one Maasai riddle, “The two of us cross the wilderness without talking to each other” is “you and your shadow.”

Life in Gloom and Danger

Maasai people are elephant worshippers, and In the lap of wildlife do they live and thrive. It would be wrong to assume that such a lifestyle is without challenges. The difficulties of crop-raiding and dangers of wild animals lurk like ghosts over these tribe people. But after years of mingling with wildlife, Maasai have learnt to live in harmony.

With times, some of these people have changed their ways too. Maasai community now avails internet, modern transport and school education although in varying proportions. Many households have a beautiful mix of modern and traditional living—solar panels on roofs and livestock in the homestead.

Lion Hunting No Longer Fashionable

The cattle herders can go to any extent to safeguard their cattle but the grasslands that they live in also inhibited by 50% of the world’s lion population. Man-animal conflict is bound to happen and it has been a reality of life for the Maasai tribe. With the rapid decline in the lion population, the Kenyan Government banned the killing of lions in 1970s.  Killing a lion by a male member automatically initiated him into becoming a warrior, the ultimate achievement for a Maasai. Several organisations now hire young men from the tribe to save the lion. Slowly but steadily the Maasai tribe is now realising the call by the Governments the world over to protect wildlife. The lions, cattle and Maasai can live alongside one another with little give and take.

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