Massai Warriors- National Geographic Report Essay, Research Paper
In the September 1999, issue of National Geographic Magazine, there is quite an interesting article that has been written by Carol Beckworth and Angela Fisher. It deals with the Masai Warriors of Kenya, and how their culture recognizes an adolescent male that is becoming a man, or entering manhood.
The Masai warriors are a group of semi- nomadic people who live on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. They are a relatively small group, with only about 300,000 people in their culture. They hunt for their food with spears, they live in small homes made out of cow dung, and their most advanced form of technology seems to be the bark shoes that they wear on their feet. They are fairly quiet, subdued people, and they seem to ignore the changing world around them. Their customs greatly differ from the outside world, and many of them would nowadays be called very inhumane and primitive. But these ways are the only ways that they know. But, unfortunately, it may not always be that way.
The Masai culture finds the changing of boy to man to be a very important event in life. It is not something that will just happen on it s own. It is not something that takes place over the course of a decade, either. It is a very spiritual ritual that occurs over a four-day period. This event is known as Eunoto. It is a very rigorous, very challenging, and almost an inhumane ceremony.
Eunoto involves the slaying of a lion, the skinning of a buffalo, sexual intercourse with prepuburtal and uncircumcised young girls, the erection of a new building for each young man involved, and very often, the hysterical trance of a young man, during which he may attempt to slay himself with a spear. The young man being initiated finally ends the ritual by having his hair cut off by his mother. This very important event symbolizes the end of the maternal bond between the two.
The morals of this culture seem to leave a little something to be desired, however. Marriage, for instance, doesn t mean quite what it means here (although in some cases, they are more loyal to their spouses there than people are here). A man may be married to more than one wife there, and sex out of wedlock doesn t appear to be frowned upon there. Many times before the Eunoto is carried out, the young men (18 19 years of age) sleep with 9- 11 year old girls. That would be very frowned upon here. But there it s custom. And there, the males aren t circumcised at birth. They do that at the end of the Eunoto.
This all sounds very inhumane and I disagree with it all, but I guess it s tradition, and I can t change that.
Even this age- old ceremony is dying out, however. More and more mothers are sending their children to schools to learn a trade, which they then go and use in another world. The future of the Masai warriors is greatly in danger of becoming extinct. All there hunting is done simply with spears, and new technology will soon wipe away all of these customs and traits. Soon the Masai will no longer be such a unique culture.