- GENERAL INFORMATION
- ECONOMY & AGRICULTURE
- MASAI TRIBE
Officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya lies on the equator with the Indian Ocean to the south-east, Tanzania to the south, Ugandato the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 km2. The word Kenya, /ˈkɛnjə/, originates from the Kamba names for Mount Kenya. The second highest peak on the continent: Mount Kenya, which reaches 17,057 ft and the highest Mount Kilimanjaro 19,341 ft can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations.
The “long rains” season occurs from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July, until mid August.
Kenya is still a poor developing country with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.519, putting the country at position 145 out of 186 – one of the lowest in the world and about 38% of Kenyans live in absolute poverty. Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product .Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum, corn, and wheat are grown in the fertile highlands. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton,sugarcane, sisal, and corn are grown in the lower-lying areas.
Kenya’s services sector, which contributes 61% of GDP, is dominated by tourism.
The vast majority of Kenyans are Christian (83%), with 47.7% regarding themselves as Protestant and 23.5% as Roman Catholic of theLatin Rite. Kenya is a diverse country and, although tribalism is a major issue in Kenya. Notable peoples include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. The Maasai culture is well known to tourism.
The Maasai tribe (or Masai) is a unique and popular tribe due to their long preserved culture. Despite education, civilization and western cultural influences, the Maasai people have clung to their traditional way of life, making them a symbol of Kenyan culture. The Maasai people of East Africa live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley on semi-arid and arid lands.
The Maasai live in Kraals arranged in a circular fashion. The fence around the kraal is made of acacia thorns, which prevent lions from attacking the cattle. It is a man’s responsibility to fence the kraal. While women construct the houses. The Inkajijik (maasai word for a house) are loaf-shaped and made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow’s urine. Women are responsible for making the houses as well as supplying water, collecting firewood, milking cattle and cooking for the family. The Maasai tribe has a deep, almost sacred, relationship with cattle. They are guided by a strong belief that God created cattle especially for them and that they are the sole custodians of all the cattle on earth.
Maasais speak Maa, a Nilotic ethnic language from their origin in the Nile region of North Africa.
The warrior is of great importance as a source of pride in the Maasai culture. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the world’s last great warrior cultures.
Though they traditionally dressed in animal skins, Maasai woman with beaded jewelry – everyday Maasai dresstoday, typical Maasai dress consists of red sheets, (shuka), wrapped around the body and loads of beaded jewelry placed around the neck and arms. These are worn by both men and women and may vary in color depending on the occasion.Ear piercing and the stretching of earlobes are also part of Maasai beauty, and both men and women wear metal hoops on their stretched earlobes.Women shave their heads and remove two middle teeth on the lower jaw (for oral delivery of traditional medicine). The Maasai often walk barefooted or wear simple sandals made of cow hide.
The Masai dance that is repeatedly seen in African documentaries is usually called the “jumping dance”. This particular dance is performed by the men of the village, who leap into the air to show their strength and stamina as tribal warriors. Each young man will jump as high as he can while the others stand in a circle and sing. The voices of the men get higher as the jumping increases. This dancing competition is called the “adumu”. The Masai generally don’t use musical instruments when they are singing or dancing. All of their music is vocal, except for a large horn that is used for certain songs.
The effects of modern civilization, education and western influence have not completely spared this unique and interesting tribe. Some of the Maasai tribe’s deep-rooted culture is slowly fading away. Customs, activities and rituals such as female circumcision and cattle raiding have been outlawed by modern legislation. Maasai children now have access to education and some Maasai have moved from their homeland to urban areas where they have secured jobs.