No doubt you are familiar with the Maasai tribe – perhaps not because you actually know about them but rather have seen photos – bright colored sashes (called “shukas”) in vibrant red, purple or blue, the men with their spears or the strong Maasai women, bejeweled with brightly colored neck adornments or earrings. This beadwork they wear, while very appealing, has more than just an ornamental value. The women who create it express their identity and social status with these handcrafted pieces.

The Maasai are one of the most impoverished tribes in East Africa. A noble and dignified people, they have proudly mantained their traditional lifestyle and cultural identity despite pressures of the modern world. They live a nomadic lifestyle raising cattle and goats, wearing traditional clothes, and living in small villages called manyattas, which are circular arrangements of mud huts.

Yet despite this impoverishment, the women are notable in that they remain strong, are getting better educated, and have become hopeful for a brighter future.

A highlight of your safari vacation to Kenya or  is a visit with these Maasai people. Many of the tribes welcome visitors to their villages to view up close their culture and lifestyle.

The Maasai tribe women learn the wisdom of the tribe beginning in their childhood by hearing oral stories that are passed from generation to generation. 

The Maasai live in small mud huts (“boma”) made by the women (though the men gather the materials).  Some women are married to the same husband (yes, polygomy is a thing) and some to relatives. Women’s life is conducted in a small area of ​​only a few square miles, which includes the village and neighboring villages. 

The women meet their neighbors at ceremonies, on the river and on the weekly market day. Though their lives seem somewhat small, never going beyond the village where they were born and the village where they live after marriage, their culture is vibrant and very much alive. 

Masai land boasts the finest nature and wildlife areas in East Africa, so it does seem somewhat weird to go bouncing around on someone’s ancestral land without at least sparing an hour or two to meet the people and learn about their ancient traditions. We will visit, meet, and of course, buy handcrafted souvenirs!

Sing a praise for the amazing Maasai women