Masai Tribe (Maasai)

History, Traditions, Culture and Beliefs of the Maasai People

The Masai tribe or Maasai are an indigenous African tribe located mainly in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They live along the Great Rift Valley on semi-arid and arid lands.

The Maasai are the most well known tribe from East Africa. They are characteristically tall and slender.

The Maasai are popular for their tradition of hair plaits, heavy iron necklaces, and fierce warriors. They are often illustrated carrying a spear and a Masai shield. The Masai's unique hair style is a symbol of their tradition and culture. Individuals prove they are true Morans (warriors) by wearing the plaits.

The total population of the Maasai people is estimated at around 900,000. They have largely managed to maintain their traditional ways despite modernization in East Africa.

The Maasai tribe is part of the Nilotic family of African tribal groups. The nilotes migrated from the Nile valley in to Sudan. They them moved to central and south-western Kenya and northern Tanzania after 1500 AD.

The Masai people speak the Maasai language. This is an Eastern Nilotic language closely related to Samburu language.

The Maasai and Samburu people are historically related but have cultural and economic differences. Most Maasai people also speak Swahili. Swahili is the lingua franca of East Africa.

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