Culturerefers to beliefs, traditions, and values that determine a way oflife of a group of people (Omohundro, 2008). Norms among theseparticular people are depicted in the way these people act, live andalso behave in a day to day life (Peters-Golden, 2012). According toEuropean Research Council, when interacting with others, theymaintain their values and traditions since they believe that they arethe norms that determine what is wrong or right. Maasai people foundin East Africa are among the few groups that have to date retainedtheir culture despite massive culture erosion from the Western partof Africa. The paper will discuss two elements of culture,celebrations, and rituals of an age-set, from Maasai group of EastAfrica.
Manycelebrations that are among Maasai people are often attached torituals. These rituals are done at various stages of life, and theymake a promotion to a new life. To men, new life initiation marksaccommodation to age sets (Spear, 2010). However, although women arealso circumcised they do not acquire age-sets and often assumeage-sets of men that marry them. However, both boys and girls areinitiated and celebrated after the rituals.
Atthe age of between 14 and 16 years, boys undergo their first ritualcalled senior male ceremony (Enkipaata).It is done before circumcision and prepared by fathers of initiates(Reynolds, 2011). Participants travel across the land for four monthswith the aim of announcing the formation of a new age set. A prophetof Maasai group also called Oloibonchooses a central place where 30-40 houses are built to accommodatethese boys. During this period, a chief of the group (Olopolosiolkiteng)is selected, and their responsibility is to shoulder all the sins ofthe members of the age set (Reynolds, 2011). A day before theceremony, initiates spend in the forest and the morning they enterthe houses as raiders wearing loose clothing since they dance theentire day of service non-stop. Initiates are now ready forcircumcision (Emulata).
Circumcisionis the most important, yet a painful experience among boys and girlsin the Maasai community. Members of the age set ready forcircumcision participate in cattle herding for seven consecutive daysbefore the actual day. In the dawn of circumcision, they take a coldbath to cleanse their sins and are escorted by older age sets tocircumcision ground. There are no pain relievers administered yetinitiates are expected to portray high standard of discipline. Theinitiates are taken to warriors camp (Emanyatta)where they take 3-4 months in healing (Spear, 2010). These fightersremain in the field for ten years, and they learn matters concerningtheir age-set. They are also taught self-independence.
Afterten years they are invited for senior warrior`s ceremony (Eunoto)where participants are initiated to adulthood. At this stage, theyare not supposed to eat food prepared by women, and they colour theirhair with red ochre. When the event is over their hair is cut bytheir mothers. A few months later they do the milk ceremony followedby meat eating ceremony (Enkangoo-nkiri)(Spear, 2010). Initiates are allowed to eat meat prepared by women atthis stage. Eventually, the adults are launched to junior elders`position through Orngesherrceremony. Initiates take full responsibilities of fathers after theceremony.
Inconclusion, boys graduate through circumcision to form a new age-set.Members of that particular age-set are trained together in Warriors`camp where they are taught to be independent. Eventually, they areceremoniously ushered to adulthood. After marriage, they graduate tojunior elders where they take responsibilities over their families.
Reynolds,J. (2011). Onlythe mountains do not move A Maasai Story of Culture andConservation. NewYork: Lee & Low Books.
Omohundro,J. T. (2008). Thinkinglike an anthropologist: The practical introduction to culturalanthropology.Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Spear,T. (2010). BeingMaasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa.London.: Carrey.
Peters-Golden,H. P. (2012). CultureSketches: Case studies in anthropology (5th ed.).New York: McGraw-Hill.
EuropeanResearch Council. (Producer). Theadaptive nature of culture: Cross-cultural Study of three indigenoussocieties[Video]. Retrieved September 16, 2016, from<https://vimeo.com/98435620>