Apparently, the Maasai have the following saying: “It takes a day to destroy a house, and months, maybe years, to build a new one; if we abandon our lifestyle to construct a new one, it will take thousands of years.” A rite of passage into womanhood for women is female gender mutilation.
This is about showing one can bear pain and show courage. Times have changed, luckily, but other aspects of Maasai womanhood hasn’t: a woman is allowed to have up to three lovers prior to marriage for example. One favourite, and two for when the favourite leaves the village. And yes, men still get to put a spear down in front of a woman’s house and wife-swap. After all, all is shared. You prude.
But this is a photo of a male Maasai, so I will stop writing about their women. That is for another post. Instead, let’s talk about some of their men’s aspects to life. They no longer have to kill a lion to be elevated into warrior rank (child to man), but they will still spend years in the bush outside the village, learning about animals and their ways. One ritual into adulthood happens when they are about 16 years old. They will be gathering the cattle for 7 days straight, and if successful they will receive their circumcision on the 8th day. Courage and pain. -
There are many romantic or romanticised notions of Maasai culture, and many seem problematic to an outside view, and they are. There are reform movements within the Maasai culture and clans, and so describing rituals and what is historical and what still practiced can vary wildly. For those believing in a certain value set it is good to see that it doesn’t take a thousand years to replace some more problematic seeming aspects. Some of it will be incomprehensible to an outside audience, especially a Western one, so I will just leave you with some more photos for now.