From the book-‘All over the place’

The Maasai Cultural Show June 2007

By Eudiah Kamonjo.

  ‘A Maasai without culture is as a zebra without stripes. If we abandon our way of life, our next step could be extinction’

-Kakuta Ole Maimai, Founder of the Maasai Association. 

The Maasai are one of the few communities that have retained their cultural values and generate a lot of interest the world over. They are a famous warrior tribe in Kenya whose lives center around herding cattle. They drink fresh blood and milk from cows and goats which they believe makes them strong, they sometimes mix blood with milk. Most people only have the image of tall lean mean clutching spears and dorned in red attire. Well, there is more to the Maasai than has been told.

 The Maasai Cultural Show is an event that has been going on for over ten years with an aim of exhibiting the cultural values of the Maasai community as well as harmonizing education and culture.This years’ event was held on the 14th –16th June 2007 at Olosho-oibor in Kajiado District and was officially graced by the District Commissioner. A number of tourists were present at the venue to experience the Maasai culture, the famous Maasai beadwork, Maasai traditional dances and traditional preparation of meat and soup. We were surprised to note how they conduct their greetings; younger people have to bend when greeting a person older than them, this older person then touches the back of their heads as if blessing them. Manyattas, which are semi-permanent structures, had already been constructed at the venue. These take about a month to set up (an activity carried out by women) and are built out of branches, twigs, grass, cow-dung and urine. When this dry, they are as strong as cement and do not smell at all.

 The Maasai are pastoralists who believe that God entrusted his cattle to them. Their wealth is hence measured by the number of cattle they have acquired. A livestock exhibition was therefore a necessity which saw a couple of cattle owners win various prizes.Every year, issues concerning the community are addressed. This years’ theme was ‘Climate Change’ and the community was educated about the changes that have been going on during the drought periods. There were lots of competitions, sports and business activities going on. It is at such an event that veterinary services, animal feeds and drugs get their stocks literally flying out of the shelves.

It was also at this very event that we met Musaite Ole Tunda, the Maasai herdsman who found J.M. Kariuki’s body (a famous Kenyan politician who had been said to have disappeared but was found murdered). Ole Tunda told us that people still travel from the city to enquire about this controversial saga that has never been solved. 

The event is organized by an NGO; Simba Maasai Outreach Organization which has been working with the community since 1993.The NGO deals with the general community development which encompasses food security, water, education, cultural preservation and gender issues. Daniel Rogei, the Programme Officer at Simba Maasai Outreach said that the event kept getting better and better every year.“More schools, individuals and groups are coming from far and wide to participate in the event,” he added.Over the years, the organizers have had a few financial and political challenges but believe that the event will soon be acknowledged as a major event. 

Preceeding events will go a long way in ensuring the Maasai way of life continues to be appreciated and enhanced.         

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