More Maasai Health

Our Maasai visitors have left and we feel an emptiness in our home. They were so loving and warm and touch is a huge part of their culture. We really feel blessed to have experienced these wonderful, musical people from Kenya and we hope to visit them there when we can.

The Maasai's are a tribe of 350,000 found in Kenya and Tanzania. They are semi nomadic cattle herders and warriors who now live on the driest and least fertile areas because of less and less available land. Polygamous, the men can have as many wives as they can afford. Each wife has her own hut made of grass, mud and cattle dung and she and the children care for her own herds of cattle.

Girls are circumcised at about age 13 and married at puberty to an older male. Young men are circumcised in a ceremonial ritual at age 18 and they reenter society as men. They are not eligible for marriage, however, until they are 28-35 years old. It is a male dominated society and women do most of the work.

The Maasai healer is called a laibon and is known for his herbal remedies and rituals that absolve social and moral transgressions. Access to western health care is rarely available or affordable for the Maasai.

The Maasai have a rich culture and history and have managed to preserve it despite the encroachment on the land. Spending time with them actually brought a quiet peace into the home and they were the most gracious and thankful guests. They have a philosophy that we could all benefit from that is not to put off saying something or hugging someone because you don't know if tomorrow will come. They truly seem to live in the moment and "do it now" is not just a saying but a way of life.

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Rich said…
I guess some of their cultural beliefs would be against the law here in the states. Very interesting post. thanks for sharing
Toni Brayer MD said…
Thank heavens it would be against the law! Multiple wives, female circumcision...some traditions need to change but that doesn't change the fact that they are beautiful people and not so different from us!
Rich said…
I like the fact that touch is a big part of thier culture. I thinks it's a need we all have as long as it's keeping within personal boundaries. It's natural for some culures for mates to groom each other.
Great photos! Thanks, Toni, for sharing your experience with us.
Anonymous said…
"...Girls are circumcised at about age 13 "

IT IS NOT CIRCUMCISION, IT IS MUTILATION AND CAN CAUSE DEATH. male circumcision is relatively safe but what is done to these girls is the cutting out of the clitoris - this eliminates or dramatically reduces sexual pleasure, can cause fatal infection,and can cause the girl to bleed to death. I am offended that you would use the word "circumcision" for such a brutal act, it implies that it is equivalent to male circumcision.
Toni Brayer MD said…
Anon, you are correct that they are entirely different in both the procedure used and the end result when performed on men vs. women.
There is fortunately a large movement in some developing countries to end the barbaric practice on girls but more awareness and effort is needed to see that it ends.
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It is amazing how in these days there are tribes that still live on the jungle, many of them dont even know what phone, or a car is, I think they live awesome, with no worries at all.
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I ho pe some day visit Masay to to help all those poor people, This is one of my dreams as a doctor.
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