September 25, 2013
The Maasai remain the richest and leading cultural brand in Africa. From the time a Maasai lad is born to his death bed, he is expected to participate in a myriad of cultural rituals (ceremonies) most of which build on his courage and bravery.
These practices enable him live in hostile and wild environments and are able to tolerate wildlife and co-exist. While most of the protected areas in Kenya experience enormous human-wildlife conflict challenges, and some have had to be fenced, the parks and reserves that are neighbors to the Maasai communities enjoy cordial relations with the community having to make sacrifices from time to time but still open up their lands to free movement of both their livestock and wildlife. The Nairobi National Park, Amboseli National Park, Hells Gate National Park, the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Tsavo West, Lake Elmeintaita are some of the protected areas that have continued to benefit from the generosity and cultural disposition of the Maasai who are their neighbours.
This ceremony here, known as “Emowuo Olkiteng” marks the end of childhood and graduation into moranhood. During the ceremony, a huge bull is identified and given traditional brew made from indigenous aloe vera roots, local honey and water to charge it. The elders release the bull and the young men run after the bull and the fastest and strongest of them must hold the bull by the horns. The section of the community that hold the bull first is declared the winner and are regarded as the strongest in the community. The winner joins the elders league in their particular age set and commands respect among the whole section and community in general.
This ceremony is a test of strength of the young people before they become morans. It takes place after every 3 years.