THE MAASAI MARA THE LAND AND PEOPLE BLESSED BY GOD By Mikaeel Ahmed Class 3G
THE LAND. • TheMaasai Mara National Reserve (also spelled Maasai Mara; known by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya. It joins the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, which is also a very famous wildlife reserve. Both countries are in East Africa on the shores of the Indian Ocean. • It is named after the Maasai people who live there. They called the area "Mara", which in their ‘Maa’ language means "spotted,” If you look at the area from a high enough place or aircraft, the the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows do indeed make the land look like it has spots.
NATURE • The MARA is famous for its very large populations of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the game or animals they hunt. • Then there is the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration, which many tourists plan on seeing. The migration, people say sounds like thunder with columns of dust rising high into the sky as the animals and those hunting them move.
THE PEOPLE • The Maasai (sometimes spelled "Masai" or "Masaai") are a semi-nomadicpeople, which means that they move from place to place with the seasons. They move because they have large herds of cattle which need to move to fresh pastures (grassland) as one area becomes eaten up and barren. • Cattle are not only food and clothing for the Maasai but also the source of their wealth. The more cows you have the richer you are. • The Maasai are among the best known of African ethnic groups, due to living near the many game parks of East Africa, and their customs and dress They speak Maa but are also educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania: Swahili and English.
Society • The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have started programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age-old customs. • Recently, Oxfam (a charity helping people survive famine) has claimed that the careful lifestyle of the Maasai should be used as a way to deal with climate change because they have learned to farm in deserts and scrublands without destroying nature. • Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome tourists who visit their villages to see their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. It helps them make extra money.
Pastoralists • Maasai are pastoralist, which means that they survive mostly on raising cattle and other farm animals. They have resisted the attempts of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to make them give up this way of life and settle in one place for long periods, which would make building schools, roads and hospitals for The Maasai easier for the government. The Maasai have instead demanded grazing rights to many of the national parks in both countries, which were originally their land.
Something to be proud of • In history, The Maasai people stood against slavery and outsiders looking for people to enslave avoided the Maasai. • The Maasai lived alongside most wild animals in harmony. They have a dislike of eating wild animals and birds. Because of this careful balance with nature, Maasai land now has some of the world’s finest game areas.
HOUSING • The Maasai have always used local, readily available materials and knowledge to build their homes. • The traditional Maasai house was made for people used to moving around. The Inkajijik (houses) are either star-shaped or circular, and are built by the Maasai women. • The women use timber poles fixed directly into the ground and interwoven with a lattice of smaller branches, which is then plastered with a mix of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and even human urine. and ash. The cow dung makes the roof water-proof.
Enkaj • There is an enkaj, which is a small space where the family cooks, eats, sleeps, socializes, and stores food, fuel, and other household possessions. Small farm animals also often stay within the enkaji. Villages are enclosed in a circular fence (an enkang) built by the men, usually of thorny acacia, a native tree. At night, all cows, goats, and sheep are placed in an enclosure in the center, safe from wild animals.
DIET AND MUSIC • The Maasai diet consists of raw meat, raw milk, raw blood from cattle and some vegetables and fruits although in many villages they do not eat any fruit or vegetables at all. • Maasai music consists of rhythms provided by a chorus of vocalists singing harmonies while a song leader, or olaranyani, sings the melody. The olaranyani is usually the singer who can best sing that song, although several individuals may lead a song.
We all love to sing • Lyrics follow a typical theme and are often repeated verbatim over time. Neck movements accompany singing. When breathing out the head is leaned forward. The head is tilted back for an inward breath. • Women chant lullabies, humming songs, and songs praising their sons. When many Maasai women gather together, they sing and dance among themselves. • Musical instruments are not usually used and they rely mostly on the human voice.
CLOTHING • Clothing varies by age and location. Young men, for instance, wear black for several months following their circumcision. However, red is a favorite color. Blue, black, striped, and checkered cloth is also worn, as are multicolored African designs. • The names of the clothing are now known as the Matavuvale. The Maasai began to replace animal-skin and sheep skin, with manmade cotton cloth in the 1960s.
Shúkà is the Maa word for sheets traditionally worn wrapped around the body, one over each shoulder, then a third over the top of them. • These are typically red but other colors and patterns can be worn. • One piece garments known as kanga and kikoi, a type of sarong that comes in many colors is also worn.
Simple styles • Many Maasai in Tanzania wear simple sandals, which were until recently made from cowhides. They are now soled with tire strips or plastic. Both men and women wear wooden bracelets. The Maasai women regularly weave and bead jewelry. This bead work which is used in the ornamentation of their bodies.
Paint me beautiful • Although there are different meanings of the color of the beads, some general meanings for a few colors are: white, peace; blue, water; red, warrior/blood/bravery. • Bead working, done by the women has a long history among the Maasai, who show their identity and position in society through body ornaments and body painting.
CONCLUSION • The growth of human population and the effects of human actions on nature and climate are the biggest threats to The Mara and the animals and people who live there. • Climate change is causing rain patterns to change and that change is putting pressure of both animal and human life. Water and pasture are now less available. With less to share, people want more of the Mara for their growing population. • Wild animals wander further is search of food and water and often end up on land used by man. Their arrival usually leads to death as men use guns to drive them away. • We may be the last generation to see the Mara as it is today, with herds of wild animals and the Maasai living side by side.