Maasai tribe inhabit Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They speak a Nilo-Saharan language called Maa; it is similar in nature to the dialect of the Dinka and Nuer. Some Maasai are well versed in English and Swahili.
Known as a nomadic tribe, they are greatly skilled as warriors and cattle rustlers. Via oral history, it has been recorded that the Maasai came from Lake Turkana, an area in the lower Nile Valley and began to move South in the 1400s.
They are also known for preserving a rich patriarchal culture that marks milestones by distinct rites of passage such as circumcision without anesthesia or emorata for boys and eunoto.
Eunoto or senior warrior’s or morani initiation occurs every 15 years. It annotates the transition of a man from being a warrior to a senior warrior. At this point, warriors are able to get married and start a family.
Before the ceremony and days-long festival commences, the warriors are required to raise eight bulls that will be dispersed to the elders on graduation day. Three warriors named the Olaiguanani lenkashe, Oloboru enkeene and Olotuno (the initiate one) must also be selected before the ceremony.
The Olaiguanani lenkashe is bestowed with a carefully selected female cow, the Oloboru enkeene is gifted with a leather strap with a knot that symbolizes his age set; when his period of warrior-hood ends, the knot is untied to free the warriors from their isolated world. It also enables the warriors to be independent of their peers. The Olotuno is tasked with taking responsibility for the good and bad deeds of the men in his age-set.
Warriors are prohibited from eating in the midst of women and eating alone. This taboo is set to break the dependence of men on their mothers who generally are responsible for cooking. It also prepares the warriors to survive during harsh conditions such as famine.
The ceremony takes place for a duration of one day and one night in another camp of 49 houses that includes a larger mud hut called Osinkira. The warriors must entertain the Oloiboni until the ceremony is over.
For the initiation into elder-hood, the warriors who are the only ones permitted to grow out their hair to long lengths are made to cut their ochre covered locks which is done by the warrior’s mother. The significance of this is to sever the ties between mother and son, according to the Maasai Association.
During the festival, warriors are not allowed to carry sticks, spears and knives. Also, there is an event in which an animal horn is thrown into the fire. The task of taking the horn out of the fire is undesirable because the person who does is said to experience misfortune throughout his life. If the horn isn’t taken out, the entire age-set will be cursed. The one who removes it is the sacrificial lamb.
As nightfall approaches, an ox is killed and then skinned. A piece of raw meat or orikingamati is given to each warrior by an elder. One warrior is then given the privilege of drinking the blood of the ox, as reported by BBC.
A ring, otherwise known as orekereti, is produced from the skin of the slaughtered ox and given to the newly initiated elders.
The warriors aren’t allowed to sleep during the ceremony so they keep themselves occupied by singing, dancing and storytelling. They are also allowed to drink an alcoholic beverage made from fermented aloe roots and honey. They will now be permitted to drink alcohol as senior warriors.
As elder warriors, the eunoto’s main responsibilities are taking care of their wives and children. They are also responsible for selling game.