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Rites of Passage of the Maasai Community of Kenya - Research Paper Example

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The Maasai are one of Kenya’s best-known cultures. The paper "Rites of Passage of the Maasai Community of Kenya" will undertake a detailed study of the lives of the Maasai community and especially in their rites of passage in the post-colonial period…
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Rites of Passage of the Maasai Community of Kenya

Download file to see previous pages... Maasai are directly related to the Turkana of western-central Kenya. Oppong J. and Oppong E. point out that “they are a traditional pastoral people who are semi-nomadic and who practice a communal system of sharing with one another” (61). Today, their way of life is being threatened and is changing every minute. Large areas of their grazing land are today included in Kenya’s national parks. They consider this a threat because according to their traditions, no land should be enclosed. Rather, it should be owned communally and nobody ought to be denied access to resources such as water and land. Their diet is comprised of meat, milk, and blood from cattle. They hold the belief that utilizing the land for crop farming is a crime against nature. Once one cultivates the land, its suitability for grazing is lost. But more recently, the Maasai have moved from this belief and changed to being “dependent on food produced in other areas such as maize meal, rice, potatoes, and cabbage” (Oppong J. and Oppong E. 61) (which they have always believed is goat leaves). 3. Rites of Passage of the Maasai Community Even with the changes that occur in the day to day activities of the Maasai community, a lot has not changed. ...
These rites of passage concern men more, while women initiations focus on circumcision and marriage, though circumcision is being eroded with time. Unlike the men, women have no age-sets and are hence recognized by those of their husbands (Oppong J. and Oppong E. 63). The following are the rites of passage among the Maasai: Enkipata (pre-circumcision ceremony) This ceremony is organized by fathers of the new age-set. The boys in this age-set are aged between 14 and16 years. The boys usually travel across their section of land for about four months, declaring the formation of the new-age set. A group of elders guiding the formation of the new age-set usually accompany the boys. In order to initiate the boys away from the rest of the families, thirty to forty houses are built for this purpose (Maasai Association. “Maasai Ceremonies and Rituals”). The location of the houses for the initiation ceremony is usually chosen by the Maasai prophet. Emuratta (circumcision) This is the most important rite of passage among the Maasai community. Circumcision was for both boys and girls according to culture, though in this century, girls do not undergo it. Circumcision takes the boys to the other stage of manhood. This initiation is performed shortly after puberty. The actual process takes place shortly prior to sunrise where cold water is poured on the boy to make him numb. The process is performed by an elder who has experience in this job. During the process, the boy must be very brave because the process is not pleasant and there are no pain relief drugs, such as anesthesia. No boy is allowed to flinch an eye because one is considered a coward, which is not a good trait for the young man. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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