Our Virtual Flat Stanley is in Kenya!

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This month we are "traveling" with Around the World in 12 Dishes to Kenya and it seems only appropriate that is where our Flat Stanley is as well this month! This month's Flat Stanley comes from the children of Andrea at Ziezo - Crafting and Living in Kenya. Now in the past we have posted about Kenya. Our first was when Hazel did a post card exchange with Andrea's children. We also posted about Christmas in Kenya for the Christmas Around the World Blog Hop. Then we posted about a wonderful book, A Kenyan Christmas by Aunty Kiko which Andrea was kind enough to send me for my research on Christmas in Kenya. Since we have done a bit about Kenya itself and will do more next Tuesday for our Around the World in 12 Dishes post, I thought we would focus on the Maasai people there.

The Maasai (sometimes spelled Masai or Masaai) are an ethnic group of people in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They are a well known group due to their location near many game parks in Eastern Africa and for their distinctive customs and dress. They are well known for their jewelry.
Although the governments of Kenya and Tanzania have programs to encourage the Maasai to give up their semi-nomadic way of life, they continue their old customs. The speak Maa, but are also educated in English and Swahili (the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania). 

The Maasai are a patriarchal group with the elder males sometimes making decisions for the entire Maasai group. They have a full body of oral law and most disputes are settled with a payment of cattle.  Many Maasai have become Christian and a lesser number Muslim. Their wealth is seen as the number of cattle and children. Their lives center around cattle since it is their main food source. Due to high infant death rates, children are not truly recognized until they are three moons. End of life is non-ceremonial with the Maasai. Bodies are left out for the scavengers. (Source)
Bridal Set of Necklaces (Source)

The Maasai live in a Kraal, which is a hut village or typically a group of huts surrounded by a stockade. (Source) The Maasai's is arranged in a circular fashion and the fence is made out of acacia thorns which keep the lions from attacking the cattle. It is the men's responsibility to build the fence and the women's to build the hut. Traditionally extended family share a Kraal, but with new land management system it is unusual to see a single family in a Kraal. The Inkajijik is the Maasai word for house. They are loaf shaped and made out of mud, sticks, cow dung, cow urine and grass. Women build the house as well as supply the water, collect firewood, milk the cattle, and cook for the family. Warriors are in charge of security while boys are in charge of the livestock care. With the arrival of formal schooling, the livestock care has become a parental responsibility while the boys are in school

Livestock is important to the economy of the Maasai. It is their primary source of income. The livestock they have are cattle, sheep and goats. A Maasai prayer is "May Creator give us cattle and children," or "Meishoo iyiook enkai inkishu o-nkera". 

The Maasai diet traditionally consists of meat, milk, and blood from the cattle. People drink blood on special occasions such as a circumcised person, a woman who gave birth or the sick and it is also used for intoxicated or hungover people. More recently the Maasai have become dependent on food produced other places like maize, rice, potatoes and cabbage. Some Maasai who live near crop farmers are forced to farm and use their own products as their main source of food. This is traditionally frowned upon by the Maasai since it is believed that tiling the ground is a crime against nature. (Source)

The Maasai hunt lions. It is a sign of bravery to hunt a lion in the Maasai culture. Due to a decrease in the number of lions though, they now have group lion hunts instead of solo ones. They are hoping to give the lions a chance to increase their numbers again. Since the Maasai believe females are the giver of life in any species they do not hunt the female lions. They also have laws against hunting lions hurt by drought, snared or poisoned.  From the lion they take the mane, tail and claws. The women take the mane and beautifully bead it and give it back to the warrior. When the warrior becomes a junior elder he must through away the lion mane, however first he treat it with respect by sacrificing a sheep and rubbing the mane with a mixture of sheep oil and ochre. (Source)
Warrior Shield for Lion Hunting (Source)

With that we will stop looking at the Maasai. Now you will have to wait until next month to see where Flat Stanley shows up. And if you are interested in hosting Flat Stanley where you live, please check out the information here.

Flat Stanley/Sophia So Far (top 3 are Hazel's)


1 comment:

  1. They had lots of fun colouring Stanley! Thanks for the additional cultural info!


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