Essay The Maasai Culture And Ecological Adaptations

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The Rift Valley in East Africa has been the home of pastoralists for over three thousand years. A number of different tribes migrated to Kenya, grouped by language they include the Cushites derived from Southern Ethiopia, the Nilotes, which include the Maasai, from Southern Sudan, and the Bantu. The Maa speaking people are the group from which the Maasai originated; their expansion southward into the Great Rift Valley began about 400 years ago. The second stage of Maasai expansion involved the emergence of a central Maasai alliance as well as the expansion and differentiation out of the Central Rift Valley. There are numerous Maasai tribes, and we will be primarily discussing the Arusha and Central Maasai.

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Religion and Ceremonies
The Maasai have adapted to the conditions of their environmental through their religious rituals which function in perpetuating their political structure based on age-sets, and reducing cattle population numbers. The idea of religion in the Maasai culture is bound with the importance they place on the stages of life. Spear indicates that for the Maasai, God is close yet completely unknowable. Each ritual transition between age-sets and age-groups is a step toward old age and metaphorically a step toward God. The critical event in the ceremony is the sharing of meat which brings all participants closer to God. Diviners, or prophets, provide a number of important religious services. They are responsible for divining and healing sickness, providing protective medicines for the initiation of age-sets, and approving the conduct of raids by the warriors. Thus, the rituals and ceremonies in which the Maasai participate give added importance to the pastoral lives they lead. With every ceremony that celebrates the evolution of an age-set into a more distinguished age-set, the added responsibilities given to that person are honored and celebrated. Their contribution in the pastoral society is elevated as well as their participation in the balancing of their culture with their environment.

All of the feasts in Maasai include two principal elements. First, the ceremonies are always centered upon an aging process. For example, the Great Ox

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