One morning Reginald asked if we would be interested in visiting some typical Maasai homes, to which the answer was most definitely “yes”. We headed away from the Crater to one of the upland areas where the Maasai herd their cattle. The home or boma which we visited was one of the so-called “Cultural Boma”, which have been established to offer visitors the chance to learn about the Maasai culture. These places open up the world of the Maasai to visitors, but also offer the Maasai themselves an opportunity to share their values with the outside world, and provide them with an income in the form of handicraft sales. We thought this was an excellent idea, as it meant that we experienced none of that uncomfortable sense of intrusion that we have felt in some other countries when visiting a local home. We could take all the photos we wanted, secure in the knowledge that the people we met had chosen to come here to interact with us and to show us their way of life. Chris enjoyed meeting and posing for photos with the chief, while I admired the women’s jewellery and smiled at the shy children. We made sure to make a purchase while there too – a pretty bangle.
Despite the invasion of modern living in many parts of their country, the Maasai cling proudly to their traditional way of life. They never cultivate land (they consider it demeaning) but instead graze cattle, which hold a god-like status in their culture. The cows provide almost everything they need to live: meat, skin, milk, dung for the walls and floor of their huts, and warm blood extracted from the neck of a live cow and mixed with milk as an iron rich food.
Thus the Maasai live in harmony with the wildlife and the environment, herding their cattle, goats and sheep, and living a semi-nomadic life. Their seasonal homes, the bomas, are scattered throughout the landscape and are rebuilt upon return from the dry or wet season quarters. Today there are approximately 52,000 Maasai living in the Ngorongoro area. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there. Elsewhere they have the right to roam freely.
Ngorongoro (accent on the second o) is the Maasai word for cowbell.
The caldera told the Maasai it's name by echooing the sound of the cowbells.
So... if you'll listen very carefully, maybe you'll hear the caldera reveils it's name to you too...
Like many other tribes, Maasai youth are not circumcised until mature. Every twelve to fifteen years a new age-set is initiated together. The young warriors (il-murran) go through a period of initiation which lasts for some time. Warriors are not permitted to drink milk in their parents' huts or to eat meat in the i-manyat. Meat is provided for the warriors by killing oxen away from the settlements. The warriors carry the traditional long-bladed stabbing spears and buffalo-hide shields with their black, red, and white designs to mark their status. Eventually, the warrior age-set is replaced by their juniors and goes through a special ceremony (eunoto) to reach senior status. In order to "open the way" for the initiation of an age-set, a young warrior of repute with leadership qualities and no physical blemish is chosen. After being approved by the oloiboni, a bullock is slaughtered and the chosen leader (the olotuno) drinks the blood from the animal's neck first. The eunoto's four days of rituals takes place in the enkang o sinkira, an enclosure and ceremonial hut built specifically for the occasion. Each warrior has his head shaved by his mother while sitting on the same cowhide on which he was circumcised. His head is then decorated. The olotuno may select any girl he chooses for his wife at the end of the ceremony. This marks the next stage for his age-set (the new senior warriors), because they are now permitted to marry. After going through further rituals, the restrictions on drinking milk and eating meat are lifted.
Tanzania has more than 120 ethnic groups. The largest are the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi. Each represents about a fifth of the country's population and both speak a Bantu language. A well-known non-Bantu tribe, the Masai, occupies the northeastern region. On Zanzibar, many people are descended from Arabian peoples, including the Shirazi of Persia and Comorians ...
The Maasai are a pastoral people whose name was derived from their language, Maa. Actually a combination of Nilotic and Cushitic peoples, the Maasai originated northwest of Lake Turkana. They spread down through the Rift Valley, which provided fertile grasslands for their cattle. Milk, either fresh or curdled, is the basic Maasai food and is often mixed with blood tapped from a cow's jugular. Wild animal meat is generally forbidden, although eland and buffalo meat is allowed. Authority among the Maasai is based on age-group and age-set. Prior to circumcision a natural leader (olaiguenani) is chosen to lead his age-group until old age.
If you're a Baboon badly in need of grooming........you'll have no problem finding it around the crater!!