African Studies The Maasai and Maa-Speaking Peoples of East Africa
by
Paul Spencer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0041

Introduction

The term Maasai is used here to refer to the central core of East African pastoralists who speak Maa, and the term Maa-speaking peoples includes neighboring societies who share the same language but have their own separate identities. The label Maasai (like Maa) may also be used more broadly to refer to the language or (politically) to the whole grouping. Thus, it is sometimes useful to refer to this central core as Maasai proper, in order to distinguish them from the other Maa-speaking peoples, who compose about 40 percent of the total Maa population. The literature on the Maa may be conveniently classified as historical, cultural, or developmental. Historically, the Maa dominated the East African hinterland, measuring some 750 miles from north to south, and their presence hindered precolonial exploration inland until late in the 19th century. Our knowledge of their history before 1900 is therefore fragmentary. Since then, an incomplete understanding of the social and cultural aspects of various Maa-speaking peoples has slowly accumulated. This has revealed the organization of men by age into a hierarchy of age-sets, rather as schools are organized into a hierarchy of classes, although, unlike schools, Maa age-sets are spaced apart by about fifteen years and span the entire adulthood of members until they all die out. Fundamental to this system is the popular Maa view of the ritualized position of their young men as murran or “warriors,” who constitute the most junior age-set. Ideologically, their role is steeped in popular views of past glories, but a point to stress is the emphasis on ritual. The life careers of both men and women are experienced as a complex program of ceremonial activities, performed by families for individuals and by whole age-sets as they are promoted step-by-step. The drama of these activities involves religious beliefs, anxieties, life crises, and access to diviners and prophets. Being Maa is expressed in terms of shared and public ritual expectations, notably in relation to the age system for men and a concern over their fertility for women. With pressures for change in an increasingly globalized economy, Maa premises of inequality by age and sex have started to give way to new inequalities by wealth and new uncertainties in the balance of power between the sexes. These give no guarantee for the future, but they serve to throw further light on the rich legacy of their past.

Panorama of the Maa

This panorama presents two ways of viewing the Maa and two approaches toward studying them: (1) For broad views of the Maa, their distribution across the map of East Africa serves to identify their relative scale and the proximity between the various groupings (Geographic Outline); while a view of Representations of the Maa in the literature charts the history of their status within the region, before, during, and since the colonial episode. (2) For approaches toward studying the Maa, bibliographies record the scope of knowledge (and assumptions) already available for scholarship (Bibliographies), and introductions to the Maa language provide a necessary tool for anyone who wishes to delve more deeply into aspects of their culture and an essential key for any discourse with the Maa themselves (Maa Language and Vernacular Texts).

Geographic Outline

Spencer 2012 displays a map showing the distribution of Maa-speaking peoples in East Africa, and also the division of the Maasai proper into a federation of sixteen territorial (or “tribal”) sections. Apparent contradictions in the literature on the Maasai proper can often be explained in terms of differences between these sections, and it is always useful to distinguish them. The northern Maasai also differ from those in the south due to the colonial boundary imposed in the late 19th century between (what are now) Kenya and Tanzania, leading to separate histories and administrations since then. Thus, three sections on the northwestern flank of the Maasai (Uasinkishu, Moitanik, and Siria) were previously interspersed among non-Maa agriculturalists further west before they were officially relocated to join the Kenya Maasai reserve in 1935 (see Waller 1984, cited under The Colonial Record), whereas no attempt was made in Tanzania to relocate the Parakuyu, who were similarly interspersed among agricultural neighbors, and the Parakuyu remain a separate Maa people (see Beidelman 1960, cited under Relations with Agricultural Neighbors). The Maasai proper also recognize characteristic distinctions between the north and south. Those in the south have a worthy reputation for their high standards of respect and their caution in times of crisis, whereas young men (murran) in some northern sections are popularly depicted as headstrong warriors. These differences correspond to different interpretations of the Maasai age system between north and south (see Saitoti 1980, pp. 18–20, under Representations of the Maa; and Spencer 2003, pp. 145–204, under Prophets and Religion). Nevertheless, all sixteen sections are united in sharing the same age-set system, and this facilitates a degree of intermigration and intermarriage between them. Neighboring Maa, such as the Parakuyu and Samburu, have their separate territories, kinship networks, and age-set systems, making intermarriage with the Maasai proper quite rare. The Samburu are a substantial group in the far north, with stronger notions of clanship and a less elaborate form of age organization than among the Maasai proper (see Spencer 2010, cited under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems), but they are clearly Maa in every other sense, and they have attracted considerable research interest in recent decades. The Arusha to the southwest of Mt. Meru were Maa refugees who had settled down to mixed farming. Their attachment to the land resulted in an altogether deeper and more elaborate lineage structure than that of their nomadic Kisonko Maasai neighbors. However, they now relate to the Kisonko age-set system and prophet (see Gulliver 1963, cited under Kinship and Age Systems among Other Maa Speakers). The population density among Arusha is higher than in any other part of the Maa area, and in Tanzania they outnumber the Maasai.

  • Spencer, Paul. “Map of the Maasai and Maa-Speaking Peoples in 1977.” SOAS Research Online, 2012.

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    Apparent contradictions in the literature on the Maasai reflect considerable differences in local interpretations of Maasai custom and expectations among the sixteen (tribal) sections. Beyond the Maasai proper, five neighboring Maa-speaking peoples display considerable similarities to the Maasai, but they have their own independent institutions based on kinship and age.

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    Representations of the Maa

    Given the historical prominence of the Maasai in East Africa, the ways in which they have been depicted provide a backdrop to the unfolding of this history. Krapf 1854, the earliest account, presents a Hobbesian view of endemic feuding. While this reflects an image as perceived from the Swahili coast, Krapf admitted that it could have been fostered by caravan leaders to protect their monopoly of inland trade. Thomson 1968, first published in 1885, provides the first recorded encounter with the Maasai, and portrays a romanticized adulthood in which the gang culture among murran is eventually moderated with the growing wisdom of elderhood. The colonial occupation of the area provided the backdrop for Hinde 1901. This illustrated volume presented a very sparse outline of the Maasai as a subservient and decadent race and may be read as a shallow attempt to legitimize the imminent colonial expansion into Maasailand. However, a more general view was that, unlike their agricultural neighbors, the Maasai were never subservient, and Knowles and Collett 1989 pursues the issue of legitimacy by examining the civilizing mission of successive administrations as they attempted to domesticate the Maasai. This notion of the Maasai as uncivilized and living in a state of nature may be compared with indigenous Maasai views of hunter-gatherers (see Kenny 1981, cited under Relations with Dorobo Hunter-Gatherers and Blacksmiths), and also with the repeated assertion in Merker 1910 (cited under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems) that the principle of “Might is Right” permeated Maasai society (and colonial expansion?). Rigby 1992 presents a critique of prevailing official and academic representations of the Maasai. As a Marxist interpretation, this aims to provide a penetrating analysis of earlier misunderstandings, and it thereby invokes a further representation—a dialectic image of images. However, Rigby’s critique of market forces does not extend to the impact of the tourist market, which is discussed by Salazar 2007, showing how tourism affects the way that Maasai perceive themselves, reshaping their culture. It encourages them to perpetuate the colonial caricature of noble savages at a time when they are politically and economically marginalized, detracting from any historical accuracy or meaning in their performances. This is illustrated by Bruner 2001, which depicts three ways in which Maasai murran project themselves in responding to tourists’ expectations. These images place the performers in an evolving quasi-historical reconstruction, appealing to different kinds of audience. Finally, a Serenket Maasai author compiles a more immediate and far-reaching representation of his own people and the dilemmas facing them (Saitoti 1980).

    • Bruner, Edward M. “The Maasai and the Lion King: Authenticity, Nationalism, and Globalization in African Tourism.” American Anthropologist 28 (2001): 881–908.

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      Identifies three different tourist sites that display historical shifts in the interpretation of Maasai heritage and ethnicity. These portray Maasai murran as primitive dancers facing a colonial audience; a disappearing tradition that should be preserved for Kenyan postcolonial nationalism; and an evolving pop-culture image that involves the audience globally.

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      • Hinde, Sidney Langford, and Hildegarde Hinde. The Last of the Masai. London: W. Heinemann, 1901.

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        A sparse outline of Maasai society, anticipating an identical title published eighty-six years later in the postcolonial era. Depicted Maasai culture as decadent and poised to disappear, echoing the vision of their prophet, who had foretold the advent of a white race destined to protect them from disaster as a subservient people.

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        • Knowles, Joan N., and D. P. Collett. “Nature as Myth, Symbol and Action: Towards a Historical Understanding of Development and Conservation in Kenyan Maasailand.” Africa 59 (1989): 433–460.

          DOI: 10.2307/1159941Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An analysis of literature from early colonial to postcolonial times. Notes the persisting administrative model of Maasai as close to a state of nature as they rejected the proffered gifts of civilization through agriculture, education, and reform. Points to the relativity of the notion of civilized values and “conservatism.”

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          • Krapf, J. L. Vocabulary of the Engutuk Eloikob, or The Language of the Wakuafi-Nation in the Interior of Equatorial Africa. Tübingen, Germany: Fues, 1854.

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            The earliest published record of the Maasai, by a missionary on the East African coast, and based on data gleaned from caravan traders and a Maa slave. Outlines the mortal enmity between two sectors of Maa—the “dreadful Wakuafi” and the “equally savage Masai”—whose feuding dominated the inland region.

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            • Rigby, Peter. Cattle, Capitalism, and Class: Ilparakuyo Maasai Transformations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

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              Argues that the historical process of class formation among the Maasai has been a product of the penetration of capital through the commoditization of herds, then land, and then wage labor. This has led to the destruction of pristine pastoralist egalitarianism, ultimately undermining the socialist ambitions of the Tanzanian state.

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              • Saitoti, Tepilit Ole. “Maasai: Land and People.” In Maasai. By Carol Beck and Tepilit Ole Saitoti, 17–31. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1980.

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                A coffee-table representation. Written by a Maasai author, Saitoti’s preamble provides an intimate introduction to family life from a male perspective. There is a useful balance between ceremonial detail and popular anecdotes, with an emphasis on warriorhood, and a concern for the future of the Maasai following encroachments on their land.

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                • Salazar, Noel B. “Imaged or Imagined? Cultural Representations and the ‘Touristification’ of Peoples and Places.” Cahiers d’Études Africaines 193–194 (2007): 49–71.

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                  Through popular media, the stereotyped image of the Maasai appeals to tourists as a heroic symbol of resistance to modern values. In responding commercially to tourist expectations, traditional images—artifacts, costumes, villages, even ceremonies—are reshaped, reinforcing the marginalization of the Maasai and distorting their cultural and historical values.

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                  • Thomson, Joseph. Through Masai Land: A Journey of Exploration among the Snowclad and Volcanic Mountains and Strange Tribes of Eastern Equatorial Africa. London: Frank Cass, 1968.

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                    Chapter 10 elaborates on Krapf’s portrait (Krapf 1854), with the melodrama of warriorhood softened by a warmer (sometimes sentimental) gloss on marriage and elderhood. Identified the Wakuafi in evolutionary terms as surviving groups of Maa speakers that had been irrevocably forced to settle peacefully after defeats by the Maasai proper. Originally published in 1885 (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searl, & Rivington).

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                    Bibliographies

                    Hall’s annual International African Bibliography has provided an exceptionally useful listing of publications since 1980. The annual index distinguishes between various Maa peoples and extends to other topics. Analysis of this collection indicates that the number of entries for the Maasai proper (60 percent of all Maa entries) is broadly proportional to their population size (59 percent of all Maa). Throughout this period, the Arusha are grossly underrepresented (2 percent of entries compared with an estimated 20 percent of the Maa population). Correspondingly, other Maa peoples are broadly overrepresented. There also appears to be a trend toward more publications on the Maasai proper since 1998 (previously 55 percent of all Maa entries, increasing since then to 68 percent). Two other dedicated bibliographies, Jacobs 1965 and Holland 1989, complement Hall’s series by listing references that were published before 1980. Taken together and eliminating overlaps, these three sources list over eight hundred books and articles that are relevant to the Maa up to the year 2010, and one-half of these have been published since 1981. Approaching this topic from a different angle, four other books provide extensive bibliographies. None of these are annotated, and only the bibliography provided in Kasfir 2007 is well integrated into the page (and author) index. In other words, in the bibliographies provided in Little 1992, Spear and Waller 1993, and Hodgson 2001, the relevance of any listed reference is not always apparent without searching through their volumes page by page. More generally, authors on the Maa peoples vary in the extent to which they provide page references when they cite other sources in their texts. Where they omit this information, it is not normally practicable to follow through the relevance of an unpaged cross-reference.

                    • Hall, David, ed. International African Bibliography. East Grinstead, UK: Bowker-Saur, 1980–.

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                      The best and most meticulous routine compilation of books and articles relating to Africa. Consult the “Index of Ethnic Groups” and search for “Ariaal,” “Arusha,” “Okiek [Dorobo],” “Njamus [Chamus or Njemps],” “Maasai,” “Parakuyo,” “Samburu/Loikop.”

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                      • Hodgson, Dorothy L. Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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                        Extended bibliography includes a wide range of sources on the Maasai.

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                        • Holland, Killian. A Selected Bibliography of the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania. East African Pastoral Systems Project Discussion Paper 7. Montreal: Department of Anthropology, McGill University, 1989.

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                          Designed to update Jacobs 1965, adding a further 265 references. Focuses primarily on the Maasai proper and not on the Maa-speaking peoples at large.

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                          • Jacobs, Alan H. “Bibliography of the Masai.” African Studies Bulletin 8 (1965): 40–60.

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                            Comprehensive listing of literature on the Maa-speaking peoples up to 1965, with 304 references.

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                            • Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. African Art and the Colonial Encounter: Inventing a Global Commodity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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                              Extended bibliography includes a wide range of sources on the Samburu.

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                              • Little, Peter D. The Elusive Granary: Herder, Farmer, and State in Northern Kenya. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511753077Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Extended bibliography includes a wide range of sources on the Chamus and their Maa neighbors.

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                                • Spear, Thomas, and Richard Waller, eds. Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                  A useful range of bibliographic sources on the Maasai and other Maa-speaking peoples. The contributions to this work give a flavor of variation across the region and of different approaches for understanding the Maasai.

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                                  Maa Language and Vernacular Texts

                                  Maa belongs to the eastern branch of Nilotic languages, formerly known as Nilo-Hamitic or Paranilotic. This is the strongest evidence that the Maasai originated in the Sudan before migrating to their present area. Their language is relatively uniform throughout the Maa-speaking region, although certain shifts in dialect and vocabulary from north to south have been noted (see Sommer and Vossen 1993, cited under Precolonial History). The combination of Tucker and Mpaayei’s grammar (Tucker and Mpaayei 1955) and Mol’s dictionaries (Mol 1978 and Mol 1996) provides a comprehensive tool for those wishing to learn Maa. Swahili is widely recognized as the lingua franca of the wider area, and increasingly English among those who have been to school. However, Maa texts (Hollis 1905, Mpaayei 1954, Kipury 1983) and proverbs (Massek and Sidai 1974; Ros, et al. 2000) do not easily translate into English. Familiarity with the context of the original piece in Maa is therefore vital for a full appreciation. Kipury outlines the domestic background of stories as they would be told by older women to children in the course of their learning to understand Maa. Proverbs and sayings may be recited by adults of either sex, and they assume a familiarity with the Maa culture and popular idiom.

                                  • Hollis, A. C. The Masai: Their Language and Folklore. Oxford: Clarendon, 1905.

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                                    Hollis’s grasp of the complex verbal structure of Maasai grammar is impressive, preceding Tucker and Mpaayei 1955 by fifty years. However, the lists of vocabulary are not assembled into a single alphabetic dictionary. The grammar is followed by vernacular texts with readable translations on aspects of Maasai society.

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                                    • Kipury, Naomi. Oral Literature of the Maasai. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Educational Publishers, 1983.

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                                      Collection of 32 stories told by older women to children, 113 riddles, 320 proverbs, and 14 songs. In Maa with loose English translations and explanations. The introduction places the telling of these in their social settings.

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                                      • Massek, A. ol’Oloisolo, and J. O. Sidai. Wisdom of Maasai: Eŋeno o lMaasai. Nairobi, Kenya: Transafrica, 1974.

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                                        A collection of 279 Maasai sayings in Maa with English translations and brief explanations where necessary. Loosely grouped under: morals to particular stories, God, marriage, children, wisdom and foolishness, conduct, people, and life.

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                                        • Mol, Frans. Maa: A Dictionary of the Maasai Language and Folklore; English-Maasai. Nairobi, Kenya: Marketing & Publishing, 1978.

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                                          A valuable aid for use in the field, compiled by a dedicated missionary. Includes derivatives and alternatives for many terms, listings within certain classifications, and brief descriptions of certain ceremonies and practices.

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                                          • Mol, Frans. Maasai Language and Culture: Dictionary. Limuru, Kenya: Kolbe, 1996.

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                                            Maasai-English, complementing the author’s earlier English-Maasai volume (Mol 1978) and incorporating a wealth of further information. This is coupled with outlines of grammatical principles and elaborations of certain topics, scattered unexpectedly throughout the dictionary.

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                                            • Mpaayei, John T. Inkuti Pukunot oo lMaasai. Edited by A. N. Tucker. London: Oxford University Press, 1954.

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                                              Intended as a reader to accompany Tucker and Mpaayei 1955, with English translations. Often cited, but the sparseness of topics and heavy reliance on Hollis 1905 suggests that the author, as an educated Maasai, was not too familiar with traditional aspects of his own society.

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                                              • Ros, Achille da, Virgilio Pante, and Egidio Pedenzini. Proverbi Samburu: Samburu Sayings. Bologna, Italy: Editrice Missionaria Italiana, 2000.

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                                                A collection of 803 Samburu sayings in Maa, with English and Italian translations. Oddly listed in alphabetical order, but useful extended explanations and an index.

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                                                • Tucker, A. N., and J. Tompo Ole Mpaayei. A Maasai Grammar, with Vocabulary. London: Longmans, Green, 1955.

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                                                  The standard grammar of the Maa language. Part 2 provides the key to the complex verbal structure of the language. However, Part 3, on tonal variation according to context, is an unmemorable sequence of footnotes to earlier chapters and is hard to grasp except through direct interaction with Maasai.

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                                                  History of the Maa

                                                  Partly because of Maa dominance of the area inland, East Africa was one of the last regions of the continent to be opened up by the European colonial powers. Consequently, the known history of the Maa peoples is shallow. Earlier assumptions that the Maasai especially were dedicated to pure pastoralism have been challenged, and this has extended the focus to include the dynamics of their historical relations with nonpastoralist neighbors, on the one hand, and their readiness to adapt to change, on the other.

                                                  Precolonial History

                                                  The distribution of current languages and dialects in East Africa provides the most far-reaching clue for reconstructing the migrations and shifting frontiers of ancestral groupings. Citing this technique, Sutton 1993 traces the southward migration of earlier Maa speakers from the Nilotic Sudan. Within the Maa-speaking region, Sommer and Vossen 1993 takes this a step further, pointing to an anomaly among the various Maa dialects that suggests some earlier hypothetical association between the Parakuyu and Samburu. For a critique of this hypothesis, see Spencer 2003 (pp. 228–229; cited under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems). Turning to oral history and the existence of age systems in East Africa, the sequence of age-sets provides a robust chronology for events associated with particular age-sets of murran during their warrior years. Fosbrooke 1956 adopted this technique to piece together the oral history of the Maasai, and a similar course has since been followed in more recent works. Two theses based on Maasai oral testimonies and documentary evidence provide the fullest historical accounts of Maasai dominance. The first is Berntsen 1979, which focuses on the role of militarized age-sets and the prophets that led them. The second is Waller 1979, which concentrates on the military and economic competition between pastoral Maasai and other peripheral Maa speakers. Drawing on these theses and other sources, Galaty 1993 argues that the success of the Maasai during this period was a product of their aggressive age organization combined with their nomadic mobility and alliances between key Maasai sections. This combination enabled the Maasai to compete for the best grazing resources, ensuring the rapid growth of their herds, and facilitating the marriage prospects of murran when they retired to elderhood. Waller 1988 describes how the hegemony of the Maasai proper ended with a series of lethal epidemics and vicious infighting among the survivors. This sustained the uncompromising reputation of the Maasai, but the imminent establishment of colonial rule upturned the balance of power throughout the region.

                                                  • Berntsen, John L. “Pastoralism, Raiding, and Prophets: Maasailand in the Nineteenth Century.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 1979.

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                                                    Based on both written sources and Maasai oral traditions, this thesis focuses on the dominant role of pastoral Maasai over the Rift Valley. This dominance is attributed to the leadership of influential prophet-diviners combined with the ability of warrior age-sets from different Maasai sections to unite against their Maa-speaking neighbors

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                                                    • Fosbrooke, H. A. “The Masai Age-Group System as a Guide to Tribal Chronology.” African Studies 15 (1956): 188–206.

                                                      DOI: 10.1080/00020185608707001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      The Maasai age system, with a new age group (or age-set) about every fifteen years, provides an opportunity to piece together precolonial history, based on oral traditions associated with successive age-sets of warriors This enables the author to revise his earlier chronology and extend his discussion regarding Maasai relations with neighbors.

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                                                      • Galaty, John G. “Maasai Expansion and the New East African Pastoralism.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 61–86. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                        This sweeping synthesis seeks to coordinate local histories and fragmentary reconstructions, using evidence from a mix of disciplines. It suggests that as the frontier of the “new” specialized pastoralism shifted southward from the Sudan, Maa speakers emerged as the pioneering force in the precolonial Rift Valley area.

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                                                        • Sommer, Gabriele, and Rainer Vossen. “Dialects, Sectiolects, or Simply Lects? The Maa Language in Time Perspective.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 25–37. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                          A sample of 610 terms revealed considerable dialectical variation across the Maa-speaking region. However, eighteen of these terms that were unfamiliar to the Maasai proper were shared by the Samburu in the far north and the Parakuyu in the far south. This suggested an earlier association in the distant past.

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                                                          • Sutton, J. E. G. “Becoming Maasailand.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 38–60. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                            Studies of Maa and related languages suggest a separation from other Nilotic speakers over three hundred years ago. As Maa culture came to dominate the plains in Kenya, small enclaves of cultivators and hunter-gatherers became absorbed into the growing Maa presence, accompanied by switches in language, clan, and age relationships.

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                                                            • Waller, Richard. “The Lords of East Africa: The Maasai in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, c. 1840–1885.” PhD diss., Cambridge University, 1979.

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                                                              A meticulously detailed history of pastoral Maasai groups in the 19th century, based on oral and documentary sources. Focuses on the military and economic expansion of central Rift Valley Maasai at the expense of their agro-pastoral Maa-speaking neighbors on the periphery.

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                                                              • Waller, Richard. “Emutai: Crisis and Response in Maasailand 1883–1902.” In The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History. Edited by Douglas H. Johnson and David M. Anderson, 73–112. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

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                                                                Traces the triple disaster that nearly destroyed Maasai cattle herds in the 1880s and decimated the human population. This led to civil war between the survivors and coincided with the arrival of Europeans prior to the colonization of East Africa. These events marked a watershed in Maa history.

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                                                                The Maasai, Loikop, and Kwavi

                                                                An unresolved mystery that has haunted Maasai history concerns the identity of the Kwavi or Loikop (Iloikop). Krapf 1854 (cited under Representations of the Maa) suggested that the term Kwavi (“Wakuafi”) was a Swahili corruption of the Maa term loikop (“Eloikob”), referring to “those of the country”—aborigines—the Maa-speaking “mortal enemies” of the Maasai. Jacobs 1965 elaborates on this interpretation, arguing that these terms referred to peripheral Maa speakers who had lost their stock and were obliged to rely substantially on agricultural foods, as distinct from purely pastoral Maasai, who despised them. Jacobs also explained this Swahili corruption by pointing out that while -kop is a Maa term for “country,” its plural is -kuapi (“countries” in the sense of places abroad), whence Kwavi/Kuafi in Swahili, and he noted that the term loikop also refers to bloodwealth that is paid after a homicide. Alternative views have been put forward by various writers. Berntsen 1980 reconsiders the early literature and suggests that once Krapf’s dichotomy between Maasai and Kwavi/Loikop had taken root, this masked the considerable variation concerning the definition of Kwavi or Loikop as vernacular labels. Jennings 2005 draws attention to the earliest writings on the Maa, including Krapf’s unpublished material, and examines the terms used to identify various Maa speakers. These suggest that the term “Masai” was initially conspicuous in its absence, implying a surge in Maasai dominance only in the second half of the 19th century. Viewed in the context of current Maasai usage, Spencer 2003 notes that the Maasai are a federation of sixteen tribal sections and that Krapf’s interpretation of the Wakuafi as their mortal enemies seems to derive from the Maasai term loonkuapi, which refers to rival Maasai sections that are not trusted. They are “those of other countries,” whereas in the singular, the label loikop implies nearby friendly sections, “those of our country.” From a different angle, Spear 1993 (p. 123; cited under Relations with Agricultural Neighbors) draws on the alternative meaning of loikop in the sense of bloodwealth, referring to homicide reparations that were honored between allied Maasai sections. Putting these two independent sources together suggests that following a homicide, where there was trust between two Maasai groups, they reciprocated in making and accepting reparations across sectional boundaries: They were “of our country,” loikop. Where there was only mistrust, there was no customary reparation: They were “of other countries,” loonkuapi.

                                                                • Berntsen, John L. “The Enemy Is Us: Eponymy in the Historiography of the Maasai.” History in Africa 7 (1980): 1–21.

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                                                                  Surveys the use of the terms Loikop and Kwavi in the literature on Maa. Notes the extent to which successive writers from the earliest missionaries to subsequent travelers have developed models of understanding through the interpretations of these labels, with shifts in meaning reflecting their involvement in the Maa area.

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                                                                  • Jacobs, Alan H. “The Traditional Political Organization of the Pastoral Masai.” D. Phil thesis, Oxford University, 1965.

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                                                                    Chapter 2 (pp. 20–113), on the historical background, overshadows this thesis in an ambitious attempt to reconstruct the prehistory of the area from available sources. The author regarded the Maasai proper as pure pastoralists and identified the Kwavi as despised Maa who could no longer survive by relying on their herds alone.

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                                                                    • Jennings, Christian. “Beyond Eponymy: The Evidence for Loikop as an Ethnonym in Nineteenth-Century East Africa.” History in Africa 32 (2005): 199–220.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/hia.2005.0012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Outspoken reassessment of the emergence of the Maasai as a dominant force among the Maa. The earliest writings on the area by Krapf and other long-standing missionaries have been underrated, whereas these provide further clues for Maasai origins and indicate that “Loikop” was the earlier name for all Maa.

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                                                                      • Spencer, Paul. “Power and the Social Construction of Space.” In Time, Space, and the Unknown: Maasai Configurations of Power and Providence. By Paul Spencer, 43–66. London: Routledge, 2003.

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                                                                        This outline of Maasai conceptions of locality and distance suggests that the labels Loikop and Kwavi (cf. loonkuapi) were derived from Maasai terms for nearby friendly sections, as opposed to those that are not to be trusted. As relative and not absolute terms, their use is reciprocated between Maasai sections.

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                                                                        Relations with Agricultural Neighbors

                                                                        In the late 19th century, the Maasai proper dominated the pastoral niche in this region, and writers referred to them as a “race” or “nation” or, more recently, a “tribe.” However, any implication of racial purity has to be regarded as a conceptual phenomenon—a measure of current appearances with no ultimate guarantee of its past or future or consistency. Waller 1985 emphasizes the extent to which the whole region was linked by a shifting network of exchange, intermigration, and intermarriage between pastoral and agricultural communities, indicating a blurring of ethnic identities (see Berntsen 1979, pp. 114–124; cited under Relations with Dorobo Hunter-Gatherers and Blacksmiths). The strategy adopted by Kikuyu entrepreneurs to establish a firm foothold among Maasai is conveyed in Marris and Somerset 1972. Maasai pastoralism was an ideal for the agricultural Kikuyu, and in the process of expanding their frontier, they would marry off their daughters to Maasai and offer their sons as herdboys. The high status of the Maasai as “pure” successful pastoralists was not necessarily ancient or permanent. In Tanzania, Spear 1993 describes how the Arusha descended from defeated Maa pastoralists who found refuge close to the Meru/Chaga of Mt. Meru and settled to take up irrigation agriculture. However, they also maintained links with their Kisonko Maasai neighbors and retained the warrior thrust of the Maasai age system, dominating the plains toward the East African coast. On the fringes of the semiarid plains, Spear also notes the existence of small oasis communities of irrigators such as the Chamus of Lake Baringo, and he regards this mix as an aspect of the ecological balance of the Maa-speaking area in an uncertain environment. The Chamus incorporated pastoralism into their economic system following a surge of Samburu immigrants. They adjusted to pastoralist innovations, but the newcomers were obliged to compromise their ideals of nomadic independence by accepting the constraints of a rooted collective economy, and the Chamus reputation as peaceable conformists persisted (see Spencer 1997, cited under Kinship and Age Systems among Other Maa Speakers). An alternative scenario concerns the Parakuyu, Maa pastoralists who held sway over a wide region as a dominant minority (Beidelman 1960). However, they also depended on their poorer non-Maa agricultural neighbors for food without merging into a single hybrid society as the Arusha and Chamus had done. Under colonial administration, the Parakuyu were largely overlooked because they were regarded as a rootless scattered minority who were no longer self-sufficient in cattle.

                                                                        • Beidelman, Thomas O. “The Baraguyu.” Tanganyika Notes and Records 55 (1960): 245–278.

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                                                                          Based on fieldwork and a review of historical literature on the Parakuyu. The author’s principal research was among Kaguru, neighboring Bantu farmers who were previously dominated by Parakuyu. However, Kaguru now competed for land resources, and the Parakuyu were no longer able to survive on a purely pastoral diet.

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                                                                          • Marris, Peter, and Anthony Somerset. African Businessmen: A Study of Entrepreneurship and Development in Kenya. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972.

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                                                                            Chapter 2 (pp. 25–43) outlines the process whereby itinerant Kikuyu traders would exchange agricultural goods for Maasai small stock. Having established a trading relationship with the Maasai, they would build up a network of clients and organize trading caravans, while the Maasai would play an essentially condescending and passive role.

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                                                                            • Spear, Thomas. “Being Maasai, but Not People of Cattle: Arusha Agricultural Maasai in the Nineteenth Century.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 120–136. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                                              Mt. Meru offered a fertile niche for Maa refugees, who settled as Arusha cultivators while maintaining their warrior tradition and links with their pastoral Kisonko neighbors. As Arusha influence expanded, they assimilated non-Maa wives and male recruits, increasing their population. This led to the expansion of farming onto the plains.

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                                                                              • Waller, Richard. “Economic and Social Relations in the Central Rift Valley: The Maa-Speakers and Their Neighbors in the Nineteenth Century.” In Kenya in the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Bethwell A. Ogot, 83–151. Hadith 8. Nairobi, Kenya: Anyange, 1985.

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                                                                                A panoramic view of the shifting mosaic of relations in the Maa-speaking area. Maasai dominance could be tempered by epidemics, famines, and vicious rivalries. Their survival depended on networks of exchange with their agricultural neighbors, extending to intermigration and intermarriage. This challenges any notion of racial purity or uncorrupted pastoralism.

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                                                                                Relations with Dorobo Hunter-Gatherers and Blacksmiths

                                                                                Precolonial hunter-gatherers known as Dorobo (iltorrobo) are described in Merker 1910 as small bands living in well-hidden mobile camps, trailing game, and observing practices that echoed those of the Maasai. Kenny 1981 notes that the loosely structured lifestyle of Dorobo contrasted with the tight organization of Maa society, and that while the Maa characterized Dorobo as nonsocial beings, their elaborations of this vacuous notion reveal their cosmology, reflecting on Maa society itself. Nevertheless, Berntsen 1979 points to an interchange between Maasai and scattered communities of Dorobo in remoter parts that are similar to the exchange relationship with settled agriculturalists in the more populated and fertile areas. Dorobo would exchange forest products for stock and act as middlemen, and could transcend their despised status by finding a menial niche within the pastoral economy and building kinship links over time. Given this sporadic interchange and even intermarriage between Dorobo and Maa, this blurred the social and physical distinction between them. Thus, Cronk 2004 describes how the influx of Maa refugees enabled the Mukogodo Dorobo to transcend their low status as they began to learn the Maa language, adopt Maa practices, and acquire cattle of their own. A survey of seventeen Dorobo communities among the northern Maa (Spencer 1973) revealed that they were tied to specific foraging territories. As boundaries between rooted Dorobo and nomadic pastoralists shifted, these Dorobo groups would opportunistically switch to the language and customs of their new neighbors in the course of establishing a rapport with them. The extent to which the Dorobo would retain their own casual characteristics when adopting the practices and appearances of their pastoralist neighbors is illustrated in Klump and Kratz 1993, which observes how the Maasai would perceive the behavioral nuances that distinguished Dorobo from expected Maasai ways, reaffirming their stigmatized status. In Merker 1910, a description of Maasai blacksmiths, notes that they too lived separately and were even more despised as a pariah caste because of the filth of their work. However, unlike the Dorobo, they fulfilled a vital role for the warrior-oriented pastoralists and were an integral part of Maasai society. Larick 1987 notes that the trade between Samburu blacksmiths and their pastoralist clients was regular and that a permanent relationship and trust could sometimes build up between them, despite notions of pollution. Kasfir 2007 gathers together published material on Maa blacksmiths and follows through the succession of opportunities for their craft in changing times.

                                                                                • Berntsen, John L. “Economic Variations among Maa-Speaking Peoples.” In Ecology and History in East Africa. Edited by Bethwell A. Ogot, 108–127. Hadith 7. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1979.

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                                                                                  Dorobo hunter-gatherers traded forest products for stock from Maa herds. However, it was impractical for them to accumulate herds without moving to join the pastoralist economy. While Dorobo bands were despised for slaughtering rather than breeding stock, they also provided a refuge for pastoralists after disaster had decimated their herds.

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                                                                                  • Cronk, Lee. From Mukogodo to Maasai: Ethnicity and Cultural Change in Kenya. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2004.

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                                                                                    The Mukogodo were non-Maa Dorobo who were joined by Maa refugees (pastoral Laikipiak) in the 19th century. Intermarrying with them, the Mukogodo began to acquire cattle and Maa as a second language. By adopting Maa values, stock, and kinship connections, they raised their intergroup status and self-esteem in the process.

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                                                                                    • Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. African Art and the Colonial Encounter: Inventing a Global Commodity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                      Chapters 3 and 4 (pp. 99–180) summarize the literature on the position and practices of Samburu and Maasai blacksmiths and trace the significance of the transitions from blacksmith’s traditional role in times of warfare, to a modified role during colonial peace, to postcolonial times that have opened up the tourist market.

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                                                                                      • Kenny, Michael G. “Mirror in the Forest: Dorobo Hunter-Gatherers as an Image of the Other.” Africa 51 (1981): 477–496.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1158950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Dorobo communities were perceived by the pastoral Maa as living in an unnatural limbo. Their apparent disregard for property, institutions, and decorum marked them out as an inverted form of society. However, in this capacity they also played a symbolic intermediary role as, for example, circumcisers in separating childhood from adulthood.

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                                                                                        • Klump, Donna, and Corinne Kratz. “Aesthetics, Expertise, and Ethnicity: Okiek and Maasai Perspectives on Personal Ornament.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 195–221. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                                                          Okiek (Dorobo) women do not appreciate the finer differences between the personal ornaments that they display and those worn by Maasai women, whom they seek to emulate. But Maasai women are aware of the nuances of these decorations and of their general behavior that betray them as Dorobo who know no better.

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                                                                                          • Larick, Roy. “The Circulation of Spears among Loikop Cattle Pastoralists of Samburu District, Kenya.” Research in Economic Anthropology 9 (1987): 143–166.

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                                                                                            Samburu blacksmiths were tied down to a sedentary lifestyle by their equipment and local raw materials for forging spears. They built up herds by bartering these spears for stock owned by nomadic clients, mostly warriors or young elders. There was about one blacksmith for every six hundred spear owners.

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                                                                                            • Merker, Moritz. Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1910.

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                                                                                              Part 3 outlines the culture of Asa Dorobo and compares their customary practices with those of the Maasai. Part 2 (chapter 13) describes the techniques of the blacksmith caste, who were technically closer to the Maasai than Dorobo, but even more despised as unclean and they lived in segregated villages.

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                                                                                              • Spencer, Paul. “The Dorobo and Elmolo of Northern Kenya.” In Nomads in Alliance: Symbiosis and Growth among the Rendille and Samburu of Kenya. By Paul Spencer, 199–219. London: Oxford University Press, 1973.

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                                                                                                Among the Maa-speaking peoples, pastoralism and hunter-gathering require contrasting skills, lifestyles, and ideologies, based on herd and family discipline as against opportunistic foraging. However, the boundary between them is blurred by the degree of intermigration that has occurred as a result of mixed fortunes and aspirations among the pastoralists.

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                                                                                                The Colonial Record

                                                                                                Two treaties loom over the colonial record in Kenya, obliging the Maasai proper to vacate their best pastureland for white settlement. The first treaty (in 1904) confined the Maasai to two reserves in the north and the south, linked by a passageway. The second treaty (in 1911) revoked this by relocating all Maasai to the southern reserve, making further land available for settlers and stirring up a deep-seated controversy. Waller 1976 describes how these treaties were facilitated by an alliance between the incoming British administration and the Maasai prophet Lenana, consolidating his position against his principal rival, Senteu. But once Lenana had served his purpose, the administration increasingly liaised directly the Maasai elders. Sandford 1919 provides a detailed account of the disposition of the Maasai and administration over this period. Written by a whistle-blowing ex-government medical officer and first published in 1924, Leys 1973 provides a telling account of Maasai compliance with the treaties, as compared with bad faith among key colonial officials who failed to curb the ambitions of white settlers, breaking the first treaty and manipulating the second. Subsequently, a land commission sought to settle this contentious affair pragmatically, proposing boundary adjustments to the Maasai reserve, Hughes 2006 suggests that no final settlement exists however, arguing that the Maasai could not be expected to understand these treaties and that they still have a legal case. Tignor 1972 describes how Maasai grievances were fuelled by other challenges to their established practices. These included attempts to promote education and to abolish the system of warrior villages (imanyat), leading to uprisings by rebellious Purko murran (see Waller 2010, cited under Display and Status). Waller 1984 traces the history of Maa who had settled among non-Maa agriculturalists to the west and the land commission’s recommendation to relocate them to an extension of the Maasai reserve, thereby creating a new ethnic boundary. While the thrust of the analyses of the colonial record in Kenya concerns disputes over land, less has been written about the colonial record in Tanganyika, and Hodgson 2001 provides a rare outline of this period, identifying official images that misinterpreted the Maasai position (see Knowles and Collett 1989, cited under Representations of the Maa). Spear 1997 traces similar issues of land alienation from Maa in Tanganyika, where the Arusha were confronted with a ring of white settlement. This was supported by official policies that restricted the opportunities for the growing African population. However, it was the non-Maa Meru/Chaga and not the Maa Arusha who played the leading role in taking their grievances to higher authorities.

                                                                                                • Hodgson, Dorothy L. Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                  Chapters 2 and 3 (pp. 48–147) trace the colonial record in Tanganyika, influenced by Western images of the Maasai that overrode indigenous notions of ethnicity, gender, and authority. These measures underlay Maasai resistance to change and altered the profile of community existence. (Chapter 4 similarly exposes the neocolonial period that followed independence.)

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                                                                                                  • Hughes, Lotte. Moving the Maasai: A Colonial Misadventure. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1057/9780230246638Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    A crusading account of the Maasai treaties. Suggests that the bad faith displayed by the British authorities was a significant factor in Maasai reluctance to grasp the opportunities of education and development. Argues that a valid court case against the British government could still be raised by the Maasai.

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                                                                                                    • Leys, Norman. Kenya. 4th ed. London: Cass, 1973.

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                                                                                                      Chapter 4, on the Maasai (pp. 102–141), is a sympathetic and outspoken elaboration of Sandford 1919, focusing on the guile and hypocrisy of the British colonial record, with connivance between some key officials and powerful settlers. Together, they broke successive Maasai treaties (1904 and 1911), alienating the best land for colonial settlement. Originally published in 1924 (London: Hogarth).

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                                                                                                      • Sandford, George. An Administrative and Political History of the Masai Reserve. London: Waterlow, 1919.

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                                                                                                        A systematic account of known aspects of the Kenya Maasai. Topics include: early history leading to their confinement to the Southern Reserve; description, boundaries, and administration of the reserve, and official policies; and tribal formation and divisions, military organization, elders’ councils, and diviners/prophets. Unsympathetic toward characteristics of the Maasai, but thorough.

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                                                                                                        • Spear, Thomas. Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                          The Arusha were Maa refugees who settled to farming alongside non-Maa Meru. The German and then British policies of alienating the best land for white settlement increased intensive irrigation farming by Arusha and Meru, but also resentment and agitation, culminating in an appeal to the United Nations in the 1940s.

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                                                                                                          • Tignor, Robert L. “The Maasai Warriors: Pattern Maintenance and Violence in Colonial Kenya.” Journal of African History 13 (1972): 271–290.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700011476Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Successive uprisings among the Purko murran were responses to official attempts to interfere with the warrior village system and to enforce education for children and road work for young men. These rebellions displayed the autonomy enjoyed by murran, enabling them to defy the wishes of elders and the administration.

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                                                                                                            • Waller, Richard. “The Maasai and the British 1895–1905: The Origins of an Alliance.” Journal of African History 17 (1976): 529–553.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S002185370001505XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Colonial expansion in British East Africa was hampered by limited resources and the need to avoid antagonizing the Maasai, whose herds had been devastated by epidemics. It therefore suited the Maasai to restock by joining British punitive expeditions, and suited the British to rely on Maasai to supply irregular troops.

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                                                                                                              • Waller, Richard D. “Interaction and Identity on the Periphery: The Trans-Mara Maasai.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 17 (1984): 243–284.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/218606Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                The Trans-Mara Maa (Uasinkishu, Moitanik, and Siria) had a dispersed network of relations among non-Maa peoples in the Kenya western highlands. The colonial government’s attempt to seal this open frontier by relocating them to the Maasai reserve was compromised by the subsequent trickle of nonpastoral immigrants joining their Maa kin.

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                                                                                                                Maa Society and Culture

                                                                                                                Maa society is characterized by their age system, which shapes experience and expectations throughout the careers of both men and women. The rich ceremonial life of Maa focuses especially on murran (young men), who are grouped together to form an age-set. Every fifteen years or so these men are promoted as an age-set through defined stages of elderhood. Women do not belong to age-sets, and their careers are centered on the development of their families. However, obligations within any age-set of men involve their mothers, wives, and daughters, and relations between age-sets in some respects are relations through women and bear on family affairs. Pastoralism among the Maa is a family business, while the age system provides the wider public arena.

                                                                                                                Maasai Kinship and Age Systems

                                                                                                                Merker’s account of Kisonko Maasai society (Merker 1910) remains an ethnographic monument. Merker displayed a pragmatic approach toward the politics of power, and his insight into the dynamics of age organization was years ahead of other writers. His chapters on some other aspects of Maasai culture are still unsurpassed. Fosbrooke 1948 provides a useful bridge in describing the Kisonko Maasai as they were in the interwar years under indirect colonial rule in Tanganyika, where they were permitted to remain a largely self-governing society of nomadic pastoralists. Jacobs 1965 provides the first holistic attempt since Merker to integrate the strands of Maasai society, again based on work among the Kisonko. Jacobs’s work is particularly concerned with discipline and the emergence of leadership within the age system and its role in resolving disputes. The emphasis is on the ability of the Maasai as a warrior-oriented people to manage their affairs without unnecessary resort to violence. Spencer 2004 focuses on the process of maturation among males of the Matapato Maasai and views their warrior-village system as a ritualized republic that endows them with considerable autonomy from the heavy handed control imposed by the elders. This work also examines the response of women and of sons to this regime, as well as the response of elders to these responses as they age and find themselves increasingly marginalized. The hierarchy of age-sets among the Maasai lends itself to various interpretations, and Spencer 2003 identifies a series of models that provide different insights into aspects of their age system and shows how the significance of these varies between Maasai (tribal) sections. Very broadly, there is a trend from north to south that highlights different characteristics of relations between age-sets. In the north, among the Purko Maasai, there is an emphasis on tensions between elders and murran. In the south, among the Kisonko, the emphasis is on the rivalry between adjacent age-sets, and this cements an alliance between alternate age-sets (murran and their patron elders). These two themes also characterize strains at different stages of the development of each successive age-set of murran. This work also includes a critique of Merker 1910. Spencer 2010 provides an online synopsis of five books on the area, including the author’s analyses of the Matapato, Purko, and Loitokitok Maasai.

                                                                                                                • Fosbrooke, Henry A. “An Administrative Survey of the Masai Social System.” Tanganykia Notes and Records 26 (1948): 1–50.

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                                                                                                                  An overview of the Kisonko Maasai. Provides a politically informed analysis of Maasai society and administrative concerns before World War II, with an outline of Maasai history, the age-set system, clanship, family organization, and the duties and influence of Maasai officials. These are backed up with unique demographic data.

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                                                                                                                  • Jacobs, Alan H. “The Traditional Political Organization of the Pastoral Masai.” D. Phil thesis, Oxford University, 1965.

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                                                                                                                    In addition to Kisonko Maasai history, economic organization, and survey data, this study focuses on the family and local community, which are governed by customary rights and responsibilities, and on the age-set system, which provides the arena for resolving local disputes and playing out rivalries between age-sets as men mature.

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                                                                                                                    • Merker, Moritz. Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1910.

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                                                                                                                      Part 2 provides a unique and extended account of the Kisonko Maasai around 1900. The patriarchal family is accorded a key role within the community of elders. Parallel to this, the organization of the murran system is presented as semiautonomous with alternative warrior values and ambitions. First published in 1904. An unpublished translation exists.

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                                                                                                                      • Spencer, Paul. Time, Space, and the Unknown: Maasai Configurations of Power and Providence. London: Routledge, 2003.

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                                                                                                                        Complements Spencer 2004 in considering broader aspects of Maasai practice and belief. Outlines their social construction of aging and the world around them, and their responses to imponderables that ultimately only “God can know.” This reveals considerable variation between the tribal sections and suggests a set of irresolvable dilemmas that underpin social existence.

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                                                                                                                        • Spencer, Paul. The Maasai of Matapato: A Study of Rituals of Rebellion. London: Routledge, 2004.

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                                                                                                                          Follows the development of ritualized protest among murran, building up to independent age-sets as elders, and notes a parallel process among women, limiting exploitation by their elder husbands. Argues that the spirit in which ritualized protests are conducted has sensitive implications for the ability of elders to maintain overall control. Originally published in 1988.

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                                                                                                                          • Spencer, Paul. Samburu, Maasai, and Their Neighbours. SOAS Research Online, 2010.

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                                                                                                                            This synopsis of the author’s five books on the Maa-speaking region is intended as a labor-saving offering for the overburdened curious. These works consider various aspects of Maa age systems and their role in containing the exuberance of youth, the resentment of women, and dilemmas of aging in gerontocratic regimes.

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                                                                                                                            Kinship and Age Systems among Other Maa Speakers

                                                                                                                            The Maa-speaking area extends beyond the Maasai proper to include other pastoral and semipastoral groups. Regional variations in the Maasai age system (noted under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems) also apply to these other Maa speakers: the Samburu and Chamus in Kenya follow the northern model, and the Arusha and Parakuyu in Tanzania follow the southern model. Gulliver 1963, a pioneering study of the Arusha social system, identifies the process of dispute resolution as a dynamic feature in analyzing kinship on the one hand and age-set organization on the other. Gulliver shows how these provided alternative arenas for disputants to manipulate to their advantage. This dynamic approach indirectly questions the stability of Maa social institutions which was emphasized elsewhere by Gulliver 1969 (see under Changing Lifestyles). Spencer 2004 is an analysis of the Samburu kinship and the age systems, showing how they are locked into one another through the extensive practice of polygyny. This “study of gerontocracy” is as much a study of restless young bachelors (murran) as of constraining elders, and it identifies the significance of clan solidarity created by tensions over marriage. In Samburu oral history, the memories of earlier age-sets reflected their fluctuating fortunes as young warriors in terms of gains and losses in an unchanging pastoralist society. In contrast, Spencer 1997 notes that the peaceful Chamus associated past age-sets with successive economic innovations in an increasingly mixed economy. Correspondingly, their age-set and clanship systems evolved, influenced especially by their adoption of pastoralism through Samburu immigrants. During an extended period, as their irrigation system at first developed and then declined, these changes were overseen by a ritually powerful council of household heads, ensuring a measure of conformity that contrasted with the competitive edge among nomadic pastoralists. In earlier literature, the Parakuyu were equated with the Kwavi as deadly enemies of the Maasai (see under the Maasai, Loikop, and Kwavi). They certainly had an independent age system and dynasty of prophets, but a striking feature in Hurskainen 1984 is the similarity between the Parakuyu and the Kisonko Maasai, implying close links at an earlier period. See also Spencer 1973 (cited under Ecology and the Limitations of Growth) with regard to the Ariaal as a branch of Samburu. Spencer 2010 (cited under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems) also provides an online synopsis of the author’s writings on the Samburu, Chamus, and Ariaal, and of his critique of Gulliver 1963.

                                                                                                                            • Gulliver, P. H. Social Control in an African Society: A Study of the Arusha, Agricultural Masai of Northern Tanganyika. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963.

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                                                                                                                              The first ethnography in the Maa-speaking area to provide detailed case examples and to elaborate the alliance between alternate age-sets. The thrust of the analysis concerns the dynamics of disputes as individuals build up personal alliances, overriding the formal rules of procedure and switching opportunistically between age-set and kinship loyalties.

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                                                                                                                              • Hurskainen, Arvi. Cattle and Culture: The Structure of a Pastoral Parakuyo Society. Studia Orientalia 56. Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                This comprehensive outline of Parakuyu society extends to history, economy, circulation of property, age organization, kinship, ideology, classification of nature, symbolic communication, and pressures toward change. However, this work does not focus in depth on any particular theme, and there are no case studies.

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                                                                                                                                • Spencer, Paul. “Opportunism and Adaptation to the Pastoral Niche: The Case of the Chamus of lake Baringo.” In The Pastoral Continuum: The Marginalization of Tradition in East Africa. By Paul Spencer, 129–203. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                  The linkage between social systems and the means of production is illustrated by the Chamus, whose oral traditions traced a conscious evolution from foraging to irrigation to pastoralism, and these were accompanied by modifications to their social organization. Then, as they merged into the market economy, they shed these accretions.

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                                                                                                                                  • Spencer, Paul. The Samburu: A Study of Gerontocracy. London: Routledge, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                    Widespread polygyny among elders creates a shortage of marriageable women and delays the marriage of young men. This is held to explain the persistence of ritualized warriorhood (murran) following colonial pacification. Examines the overawing effect of rituals that are stage-managed by elders as a means of brainwashing young men and women. Originally published in 1965.

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                                                                                                                                    Ceremonial Activities

                                                                                                                                    Ethnographies cited in Kinship and Age Systems include detailed accounts of ceremonial activities associated with the life cycle and society at large. However, these activities are also the subject of some self-contained articles and chapters elsewhere that throw further light on Maa society. Hollis 1905 provides a variety of snippets on Maasai custom that have a particular authenticity, since they reflect the form in which Maasai generally impart unprompted information on their society and their beliefs. It is no coincidence that this material is presented in both English and Maa. Similarly, the idiom of Sankan 1971 is that of a Maasai writing about his own society, with no attempt to delve more deeply or to bring comparative understanding to bear. On the other hand, Galaty 1983 seeks to unravel just one critical ceremony performed by all murran at the eunoto of their (tribal) section, when their age-set (or sub-age-set) is formally established (“planted upright”). Galaty points to the iconic power of ritual to transform each stage of promotion in the course of perpetuating the age-set system, underpinning its political role in Maasai society. Ndagala 1992 provides unique firsthand data on the Kisongo olng’esher, a key ceremony that follows years after the eunoto. This ceremony paves the way for all Maasai murran to become elders in the fullest sense, and it formally resolves the rivalry between competing interests—that is, between sub-age-sets and also between Maasai sections. Mitzlaff 1988 provides a detailed description of the ceremonial features of women’s life cycle among the Parakuyu, supplementing the sparser material available for other Maa peoples. Following a similar path, Kawai 1998 challenges the notion that age systems are wholly men’s affairs, noting the extent to which Chamus women structure their own age categories around a ritualized program of social development that has its own autonomy. Straight 2007 describes Samburu ritual beliefs surrounding close social interaction and good fortune, especially within the family, and elaborates the responses to different kinds of death. These may have relevance for ritual behavior among Maa more generally. Spencer 1985 provides an analysis of dance among the Samburu and notes the significance of this activity in ceremonies generally. Yet, ethnographic accounts (and films) tend to take the dancing for granted as background entertainment rather than as an activity that deserves closer consideration in its own right, with a positive role in the success of the ritual performance as a whole.

                                                                                                                                    • Galaty, John G. “Ceremony and Society: The Poetics of Maasai Ritual.” Man, n.s., 18 (1983): 361–382.

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                                                                                                                                      Analysis of the Loodokilani Maasai eunoto ceremony, promoting murran within the age system. Focuses on the symbolic power of spatial arrangements, direction, sacrifice, and the mystical appointment of ritual incumbents. These symbols act as a source of persuasion that transforms the emotional experience of individuals into an acceptance of change.

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                                                                                                                                      • Hollis, A. C. The Masai: Their Language and Folklore. Oxford: Clarendon, 1905.

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                                                                                                                                        Hollis’s early collection of folklore and customs is unstructured but authentic. This made it the best known book on the Maasai available to English readers throughout the colonial period. A prime source for these customs appears to have been the prophet Lenana (Olonana), which gives this account an added interest.

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                                                                                                                                        • Kawai, Kaori. “Women’s Age Categories in a Male Dominated Society: The Case of the Chamus of Kenya.” In Conflict, Age and Power in North East Africa: Age Systems in Transition. Edited by Eisei Kurimoto and Simon Simonse, 147–167. Oxford: James Currey, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                          Notes the extent to which women’s social development and biological aging are ceremonially circumscribed among the Chamus, tying them to the male age system on the one hand but also to a self-contained ritualized sequence of female age stages on the other.

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                                                                                                                                          • Mitzlaff, Ulrike von. Maasai Women: Life in a Patriarchal Society Field Research among the Parakuyo Tanzania. Translated by Cornelia Groethuysen and Thom Dibdin. Munich: Trickster Verlag, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                            Chapter 4 (pp. 71–127) provides a detailed description of the ceremonial activities and ritual restrictions associated with the life cycle of Parakuyu women, from girlhood to death. Each stage is followed by an extended commentary identifying significant issues associated with women’s changing roles and the wider social context.

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                                                                                                                                            • Ndagala, Daniel Kyaruzi. Territory, Pastoralists, and Livestock: Resource Control among the Kisongo Maasai. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                              Chapter 4 (pp. 87–122) provides an outline of the Maasai age system and includes a unique first-hand account of the critical olng’esher ceremony performed by the Kisonko. This marks the division between successive age-sets and unifies the age-set of retiring murran for all Maasai proper, extending beyond Kisonko.

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                                                                                                                                              • Sankan, S. S. Ole. The Maasai. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Literature Bureau, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                A collection of brief chapters on aspects of Maasai society with no elaboration. This limits the value of the work. However, the author is from the Uasinkishu section, who historically were defeated Maa and not Maasai proper (see Waller 1984, cited under The Colonial Record), and this gives added interest to certain details of his text.

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                                                                                                                                                • Spencer, Paul. “Dance as Antithesis in the Samburu Discourse.” In Society and the Dance: The Social Anthropology of Process and Performance. Edited by Paul Spencer, 140–164. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                  Depicts competitive display in dancing among murran and also among married women as an irrepressible response to the heavy-handed rule of elders. Nevertheless, this is popularly perceived as enhancing the sense of well-being within the community, and it seems to offset strains due to social differentiation by age and gender.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Straight, Bilinda. Miracles and Extraordinary Experience in Northern Kenya. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                    Chapters 4–6 (pp. 69–128) provide a useful insight into Samburu perceptions of the body in relation to close social interaction, the physiology of cursing, and the disposal of the corpse after death. Philosophical passages are not easy to follow, but the ethnographic presentation is clear and original.

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                                                                                                                                                    Position of Women

                                                                                                                                                    Studies of the position of women in Maa society point in two directions. A view expressed by some writers is that women make the most of a situation in which they are relegated to a subservient role. Llewelyn-Davies 1981 observes that while Maasai women may resent their subordinate position, they dote on the idealized and distinctive warrior role of murran. In echoing this view, elders recall their own unblemished warriorhood and emphasize the supremacy of males in general. While this premise overshadows Llewelyn-Davies 1979, there is also solidarity among women, who share and maintain the secrets of their adulteries and of their murran lovers. In this sharing, they assert a defiant degree of independence from their husbands. Mitzlaff 1988 elaborates this aspect by noting the extent to which older Parakuyu women can muster a network of support against the intransigence of their husbands. By creating an alternative arena of female autonomy, centered on their own huts, they can also rely on their maturing sons to assert a degree of independence, even if they cannot directly challenge male hegemony (see Kawai 1998, cited under Ceremonial Activities). As against this view, other writers suggest that the position of women is changing, and perhaps has always been capable of changing. Talle 1988 and Hodgson 2001 both point to evidence that women enjoyed a measure of gender equality in precolonial times, but this has been steadily eroded as Maasai have entered the market economy, enabling elders to increase their control over the system of exchange at the expense of their wives. For a critique of this argument, see Spencer 2003 (pp. 226–228; cited under Maasai Kinship and Age Systems). Straight 2000 suggests a trend in the opposite direction in a developing township that attracted impoverished Samburu families. Here, the women retained their traditional role and status as food providers for the family, while irresolute elders after losing their stock had lost role, status, and respect as family heads. A concern for women’s low status provides the background against which Hurskainen 2004 records an epidemic of spirit possession that spread rapidly from neighboring non-Maa to Kisonko Maasai women, notably among those that were apprehensive regarding their fertility. Then the epidemic declined with the help of a variety of agents, including Christian churches. Hodgson 2005 takes over the argument, noting the success of Catholic missions in attracting enthusiastic converts among Kisonko Maasai women. These women found a new freedom through a Christian form of spirit possession, although Hodgson does not suggest any marked concern over decreased fertility.

                                                                                                                                                    • Hodgson, Dorothy L. Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                      The colonial policy of imposing tax was intended to encourage Maasai elders to sell stock and engage in the developing capitalist economy. However, this shifted the balance of power away from women, who had previously been key intermediaries in the barter economy, and it led to the emergence of patriarchy.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Hodgson, Dorothy L. The Church of Women: Gendered Encounters between Maasai and Missionaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                        On the Kisonko-Arusha border, Catholic missions tried to integrate Christianity with Maasai culture through education, notably of boys, but without significant success, whereas uneducated women filled the congregations, displaying their spirituality as enthusiastic converts. This offset their subordination in domestic and local affairs, but it alienated Maasai men still further.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Hurskainen, Arvi. Special Issue: Invasion of Spirits: Epidemiological Spirit Possession among the Maasai of Tanzania. Nordic Journal of African Studies 13 (2004): 1–204.

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                                                                                                                                                          Spirit possession spread among Kisonko Maasai women in the 1970s, emanating from neighboring Bantu peoples. The affected women were treated by traditional healers from these areas, but the healers themselves also contributed to the further spread of the phenomenon in the 1980s. Then Christian churches began coping with the epidemic.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Llewelyn-Davies, Melissa. “Two Contexts of Solidarity among Pastoral Maasai Women.” In Women United, Women Divided: Comparative Studies of Ten Contemporary Cultures. Edited by Patricia Caplan and Janet M. Bujra, 206–237. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                            In supporting one another over their adulteries, Maasai women flout their husbands’ authority and the principle of male superiority. Nevertheless, women’s lovers do not compromise their right to assert control over their own wives’ sexuality and fertility, and hence women’s solidarity does not undermine the unequal relations between the sexes.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Llewelyn-Davies, Melissa. “Women, Warriors, and Patriarchs.” In Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality. Edited by Sherry B. Ortner and Harriet Whitehead, 330–358. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                              While married elders wield ultimate power in Maasai society, their highest ideal as a people focuses on the selfless virtues associated with unmarried murran, legitimizing the principle of male dominance. Even women subscribe to this view. They may resent their lack of rights, but they do not question it.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Mitzlaff, Ulrike von. Maasai Women: Life in a Patriarchal Society Field Research among the Parakuyo Tanzania. Translated by Cornelia Groethuysen and Thom Dibdin. Munich: Trickster Verlag, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                Portrait of a Parakuyu extended family. Older men’s drinking habits lead to personal rivalries, wife beating, and vicious cycles of mistrust. These elders then become isolated by the women’s support network, and shrewd older women emerge as focal points in community life, evading the unreasonable demands of their drunken husbands.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Straight, Bilinda. “Development Ideologies and Local Knowledge among Samburu Women in Northern Kenya.” In Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa: Gender, Culture and the Myth of the Patriarchal Pastoralist. Edited by Dorothy L. Hodgson, 227–248. Oxford: James Currey, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                  In Samburu townships, migrant women were targeted in cooperative schemes and famine relief programs of food for work. This enabled them to fulfill their traditional role as food providers. Meanwhile, freed from domestic responsibility, their impoverished husbands lost status as they were felt to have squandered their herds through self-indulgence.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Talle, Aud. Women at a Loss: Changes in Maasai Pastoralism and Their Effects on Gender Relations. Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology 19. Stockholm: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Focuses on the changing domestic economy as the Maasai became increasingly involved in the developing market economy in Kenya. At each stage, it was Maasai elders as the owners of their households who exploited new opportunities for their own ends, while their wives were increasingly marginalized, even in wealthier households.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Prophets and Religion

                                                                                                                                                                    Hodgson 2005, a reconstruction of Maasai religion from the earliest recorded accounts, assumes that these were accurate and authentic, which is debatable. However, it is these accounts, especially, that provide Waller 1995 with essential material concerning the role and influence of prophets (iloibonok) among precolonial Maasai, and notably the rise of the Loonkidongi dynasty over lesser diviners who inhabited the Maa-speaking region. This raises the question: How far did the success of the Loonkidongi rely on the charismatic abilities of key individuals or on the potential of the Maasai as a military force to create prophetic roles? Fosbrooke 1948 outlines the substantial power retained by a Loonkidongi prophet, even after colonial rule had been established over the Tanganyika Maasai. He played a dynamic role in ceremonial affairs associated with the age-set system, and he continued to amass wives and wealth during tours of his domain. Spencer 2003 focuses on the religious beliefs that underpinned the power of the Loonkidongi prophets, who are portrayed as protective but overarching sorcerers, riven by fratricidal rivalry. Their procedures for divining the causes of misfortune in the past and its cures in the future are shown to tune into Maasai perceptions of the structuring of time. There are two unique but bizarre contributions to an understanding of Maa religion. Chapter 21 on this topic in Part 2 of Merker 1910 suggests the clear influence of Christian missions. However, Merker’s Part 4 provides an extended analysis of Maasai myths, which he gathered from a few aging men, and actually points toward Jewish origins. This section has been widely denigrated as further mission-inspired elaboration of Maasai myths. Yet, the possibility of recent missionary influence is contradicted by Merker’s evidence, which he relates wholly to the earliest books of the Bible, and this raises questions concerning the (non-Maa) ancestral origins of his Loonkidongi informants, who lived quite close to his base at Moshi. A second unmatched narrative, Straight 2007 (cited under Ceremonial Activities), provides a description of religious experiences among the Samburu. Other aspects of Straight’s account are original and convincing, and these add credibility to her version of Samburu beliefs in afterlife, God, and visits to God’s village. However, Spencer 2014 notes that Straight’s material seems incompatible with earlier accounts that record a firm denial of direct knowledge of God and a widespread disbelief in afterlife. This contradiction suggests that a parallel alternative religion may have evolved among disenchanted Samburu women since Kenyan independence (see Hodgson 2005, cited under Position of Women).

                                                                                                                                                                    • Fosbrooke, Henry A. “An Administrative Survey of the Masai Social System.” Tanganykia Notes and Records 26 (1948): 1–50.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Provides an informed account of the Loonkidongi dynasty of prophets and diviners, focusing on the prophet’s changing role in relation to raiding and ceremonial promotions of murran (pp. 13–24). Traces the extent to which prophets adapted to imposed constraints under colonial rule while retaining considerable power and remuneration within Kisonko Maasai society.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Hodgson, Dorothy L. The Church of Women: Gendered Encounters between Maasai and Missionaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Chapter 1 (pp. 19–67) provides a detailed compilation of Maasai religious practices and beliefs as reported in the earliest writings on the Maasai, predating missionary influence. This is presented from a feminist point of view as a critique of the more general male-oriented accounts of Maasai practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Merker, Moritz. Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1910.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Part 4 collates original evidence suggesting that the Maasai could be descended from a lost tribe of Israel. The sheer weight of the author’s material and his systematic presentation are impressive. However, while other parts of this volume are almost beyond reproach, Merker’s sources for Part 4 remain an uncorroborated mystery.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Spencer, Paul. Time, Space, and the Unknown: Maasai Configurations of Power and Providence. London: Routledge, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Chapter 4 outlines Maasai beliefs associated with misfortune, the power of cursing, and a pervasive belief in sorcery. The threat of sorcery haunts ceremonial activities especially, and each tribal section employs a prophet to protect them through his ability to probe the mysteries of the bush (chapters 5 and 6).

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Spencer, Paul. “The Transfiguration of Samburu Religion.” In Youth and Experiences of Ageing among Maa: models of society evoked by the Maasai, Samburu, and Chamus of Kenya. By Paul Spencer. Berlin: De Gruyter Open, 2014: 111-139.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Compares Samburu beliefs recorded around 1960 with those more recently described in Straight 2007. The stark contrast suggests that the differences reflect the increasing polarization of gender among the Samburu, polarizing the understanding of researchers, whose involvement with the fabric of Samburu society draws them one way or the other. Also available online

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Straight, Bilinda. Miracles and Extraordinary Experience in Northern Kenya. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                A strikingly original account of Samburu beliefs in afterlife and God, linked to the author’s own apparent conversion to their religion. This is illustrated by a range of case examples and experiences of near death, visitations, and visions of a Samburu heaven that are held to be independent of mission activity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Waller, Richard. “Kidongoi’s Kin: Prophecy and Power in Maasailand.” In Revealing Prophets: Prophecy in Eastern African History. Edited by David M. Anderson and Douglas H. Johnson, 128–164. London: James Currey, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Prophetic families among the Maa had traditions of adoption from neighboring peoples. The Loonkidongi dynasty had rivals throughout the Maa region with similar potential for mobilizing power. However, the Loonkidongi emerged as the most successful in unifying the Maasai as a military force before being undermined by rivalries over succession.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Diviners and Concepts of Health

                                                                                                                                                                                  Among the Maasai, diviners or “medicine-men” are known as iloibonok, and the same term is applied to those who are elevated to become prophets with the power to protect their own territorial (tribal) section (see Prophets and Religion). All Loonkidongi diviners and prophets are thought to have inherited their skills from non-Maa ancestors, and they use the same divining techniques. However, ordinary diviners’ abilities are limited to addressing illnesses and other personal misfortunes through esoteric forms of ritual. Merker 1910 notes that diviners range from charlatans with doubtful reputations to the prophet with his court of advisors, network of spies, and special influence over the murran. Merker also provides a systematic account of traditional remedies for a comprehensive range of medical conditions. Johnsen 1988 has broadened the argument by considering the Maasai notion of disease as a philosophy that encompasses their natural environment, their fertility, and external influences. Thus, Johnsen perceives the ambiguous role of diviners with non-Maa ancestry as an aspect of Maasai awareness of new alternatives to traditional medicines. Similarly for the Samburu, Fratkin 1996 lists traditional herbal methods of ridding their bodies of the pollution that is believed to be the cause of various illnesses, and Fratkin outlines the role of a local diviner in dispensing ritually protective “medicines.” Elaborating on the role of this diviner, Fratkin 1991 describes the ambiguous aspects of his practice, akin to sorcery, and notes that his attempt to assert himself politically failed because he was regarded as an outsider. However, he retained his role as a healer in times of stress and this is illustrated in Fratkin 2011. Among the studies that have addressed the issue of physical health among the Maasai, Brantley 1997 reconsiders a widely held view dating from an earlier study that maintained that the health and physique of the Maasai were due to the nutritional value of their pastoral diet. Brantley points out that the study was influenced by and fed into colonial policies toward settled Africans.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Brantley, Cynthia. “Kikuyu-Maasai Nutrition and Colonial Science: The Orr and Gilks Study in Late 1920s Kenya Revisited.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 30 (1997): 49–86.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Critical review of a celebrated study of pastoral versus agricultural diets, comparing healthy Maasai physiques with Kikuyu health problems. The author points out the extent to which the parameters of this study reflected the limitations of dietary knowledge and medical assumptions of the time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fratkin, Elliot. “The Loibon as Sorcerer: A Samburu Loibon among the Ariaal Rendille, 1973–87.” Africa 61 (1991): 318–333.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the ambiguous position of a Samburu diviner, whose uncanny powers are akin to sorcery. His ability to probe uncertainties and treat clients is regarded as a general asset, but his attempts to influence the community of elders are challenged, and he remains essentially an outsider.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Fratkin, Elliot. “Traditional Medicines and Concepts of Healing among Samburu Pastoralists of Kenya.” Journal of Ethnobiology 16 (1996): 63–97.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Samburu attribute many illnesses to an inner pollution, and they use a range of traditional purgatives to cleanse their bodies. Alternatively, they may seek the help of a local diviner to dispense a ritually protective medicine. The article outlines the preparation of various herbal medicines for a variety of illnesses.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Fratkin, Elliot. Laibon: An Anthropologist’s Journey with Samburu Diviners in Kenya. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          In this personal account, the author’s long association with a nomadic Samburu-Ariaal community focuses on the development of his lifelong friendship with a local diviner’s family. His description of the diviner’s practice and divining techniques is presented in the context of changing environmental pressures over a period of thirty years.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Johnsen, Nina. “Maasai Medicine: Practicing Health and Therapy in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.” PhD diss., Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Discusses contemporary Maasai attitudes toward diseases and their treatment, and the symbolic role of the forest in both of these. Illness is perceived as a poison that penetrates the body, and meat eating as a prime means of restoring health. Divining techniques are presented as alternatives toward diagnosing illness through magic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Merker, Moritz. Die Masai: Ethnographische Monographie eines ostafrikanischen Semitenvolkes. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1910.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Refers to various levels of divining expertise, ranging from charlatan diviners to the prophet with his court and bodyguard. Chapter 19 provides an impressive list of precolonial Kisonko Maasai (and Loonkidongi?) remedies for a wide range of diseases and symptomatic complaints. This extends to external procedures, surgery, and midwifery.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Display and Status

                                                                                                                                                                                              Display and status bear on Maa society as a political arena. Waller 2010 views the triangular confrontations between Maasai elders, warrior murran, and the colonial administration as an unresolved struggle for authority and credibility. In this conflicting arena, murran and elders vied to assert their traditional rights in a tangled display of status, while at another level the administration’s successive attempts to steer the Maasai toward change entailed a similar display. Characteristic features of Maa society include the striking appearance of their murran and the liberal display of ornamental beads worn by their women, notably among the Maasai and Samburu. Five coffee-table books were published of these two peoples between 1973 and 1994. Of these, Beckwith and Saitoti 1980, a volume on the Maasai, has a useful combination of stunning photographs and text (see also Saitoti 1980, cited under Representations of the Maa). The photographs of Samburu in Pavitt 1991 reveal similarities in self-presentation, but also differences in matters of detail and in their sparser lifestyle as nomads in a harsher habitat. Samburu self-presentation has attracted attention by a number of other authors. Kasfir 2007 suggests that the use of spears in Samburu murran dancing and the idiom of their songs convey the notion of warrior theater in a ritualized display of power, reinforced by painting their bodies with red-ochre and braiding their hair. Nakamura 2005 has compiled a painstaking catalogue of Samburu ornamentation, taking an essential step that complements other accounts and photographic collections, and it amasses data for further analysis. Straight 2002 provides an account of women’s mporo marriage beads and reveals their intriguing intercontinental history. These glass beads filtered into Africa in the 19th century and were worn by several generations of Samburu women, but became scarce once they were rediscovered as tourist trophies, endowed with African (Samburu) mystique and items for trading, rather than (Samburu) display. Larick 1987 shows how warrior ideals and rivalries between successive age-sets of Samburu murran provoke changes in fashion affecting the style of spearheads, while outdated and outworn spears are passed on within the family. Larick’s account parallels that of Samburu women’s mporo beads in Straight 2002: both spears and mporo beads ultimately end up as tourist trophies, increasing the commodity value of warriorhood and domestic pride. See also Klump and Kratz 1993 (cited under Relations with Dorobo Hunter-Gatherers and Blacksmiths) on women’s beadwork and ethnicity, Bruner 2001 (cited under Representations of the Maa) on representations of Maasai murran for tourists, and Spencer 1985 (cited under Ceremonial Activities) on Samburu dance as a prime context of display.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Beckwith, Carol, and Tepilit Ole Saitoti. Maasai. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                This coffee-table volume on the Maasai has a winning balance between stunning photographs by Carol Beckwith (202 pp.) interspersed with chapters of text (73 pp.). The graphic display of material culture is superb. However, the descriptive captions are too general and frequently absent, leaving the photographs to speak for themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kasfir, Sidney Littlefield. African Art and the Colonial Encounter: Inventing a Global Commodity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chapter 6 (pp. 201–238) considers the symbolic significance of bodily decoration and display among Samburu murran after traditional notions of warrior virtues, virility, and sexuality had been compromised by colonial pacification. Suggests that elders’ vested interests were responsible for perpetuating the symbolic and theatrical aspects of this display, thus perpetuating murran hood itself.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Larick, Roy. “The Circulation of Spears among Loikop Cattle Pastoralists of Samburu District, Kenya.” Research in Economic Anthropology 9 (1987): 143–166.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Each successive age-set of Samburu murran adopts a new profile of spear head. As spears wear down, losing their effectiveness, they are refashioned and passed on to older men or boys. The most robust and up-to-date spears are sported by senior murran, while the least useful are sold off to tourists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nakamura, Kyoko. Adornments of the Samburu in Northern Kenya: A Comprehensive List. Kyoto: Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      An exhaustive study with clear photographs and illustrations. The text systematically notes vernacular terms and etymology for each ornament; description, material, color, shape, and size; associated body part, style, and status of wearer; mode of acquisition; and craftsmanship involved. Worthy as a museum display in itself.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pavitt, Nigel. Samburu. London: Kyle Cathie, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A coffee-table volume that complements Nakamura 2005 in giving context to Samburu ornamentation and linking material culture to social life generally. The high-quality photographs (169 pp.) have useful explanatory captions. The text (45 pp.) that divides these photographs into successive topics is relevant but unoriginal.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Straight, Bilinda. “From Samburu Heirloom to New Age Artifact: The Cross-Cultural Consumption of Mporo Marriage Beads.” American Anthropologist 104 (2002): 7–21.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Replica cornelian glass beads were imported into the Samburu area in the 1880s, and became the central feature of women’s necklaces, handed down to daughters at marriage and building up to excessive displays (see Pavitt 1991, p. 33; cited under Display and Status). Then, as tourism developed and mporo were admired, they became trophies for export.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Waller, Richard. “Bad Boys in the Bush: Disciplining Murran in Colonial Maasailand.” In Generations Past: Youth in East African History. Edited by Andrew Burton, and Hélène Charton-Bigot, 135–174. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Traces the Kenya administration’s attempts to utilize, confront, curtail, and finally accommodate the murran of four successive age-sets. Meanwhile, Maasai elders continued to display ambivalence regarding the irresponsibility of murran as against encouraging the socialization of their own sons through the traditional system in which they had a powerful role.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Autobiographies and Biography

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Four autobiographical accounts offer different perspectives of life histories as perceived by the Maasai authors, and a fifth biographical account traces the life of a Maasai political activist. Fosbrooke’s translation from Swahili of Justin Lemenye’s recollections (Lemenye 1955) portrays his experience of the benign patronage of early colonial officials. A unique highlight of this account is Justin’s time with the prophet Lenana as a research assistant for (Sir) Claud Hollis when preparing his early book on Maasai language and culture (Hollis 1905, cited under Maa Language and Vernacular Texts). Focusing on a later stage of colonial development, King 1971 traces the career of Molonket Ole Sempele, who played a leading role in the politicization of a pioneering group of mission-educated Maasai during the most unpopular period of colonial rule in the Kenya Maasai reserve (see Colonial Record). Reflecting a more recent generation of educated Maasai, Saitoti 1986 conveys the author’s bond with his Maasai background, coloring his globe-trotting account. Particularly moving are the death of his brother and the problems of his father’s loneliness in old age, which echoes his own sense of isolation as his career takes him further from home. As against these life histories of educated male Maasai, the autobiography of a mature Maasai woman was recorded almost by chance. Chieni and Spencer 1993 conveys Telelia Chieni’s proud and dedicated acceptance of her role as an aging mother. Her account rises above the eccentricities of her husband and the unpredictable hazards of pastoralism as she confidently reflects the spirit of a remote Maasai community that held to traditional values, even in the 1970s. Focusing on the same family, Spencer 2013 provides the perspective of Telelia’s husband. He portrays himself as the overbearing head of this family, but also a popular member of his age-set, who restrain his excesses. Masiani’s larger than life self-portrait leads on to autobiographical accounts by other members of his family, revealing the different impacts of his dominant personality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Chieni, Telelia, and Paul Spencer. “The World of Telelia: Reflections of a Maasai Woman in Matapato.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 157–173. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Telelia Chieni recounts a turbulent life swept along by the fortunes of her impetuous husband, to whom she remains loyal throughout. A critical episode occurs when she is kidnapped by Matapato murran, and the account ends when she rejoins her husband just as their cattle herd is decimated by drought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • King, Kenneth J. “A Biography of Molonket Olokorinya ole Sempele.” In Kenya Historical Biographies. Edited by Kenneth King and Ahmed Salim, 1–28. Nairobi Historical Studies 2. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishing House, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sempele (b. c. 1886–d. 1955) was a Keekonyukie Maasai at the forefront of popular dissent against unpopular colonial policies. First reacting against the evictions of Maasai from Laikipia, the protest movement came to a head with the attempt to ban female circumcision. This account reconstructs the career of Sempele during this turbulent period.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lemenye, Justin. “The Life of Justin: An African Autobiography.” Translated by Henry A. Fosbrooke. Tanganyika Notes and Records 41 (1955): 37–57.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fosbrooke translates the autobiography of Justin Lemenye, one of the first mission-educated Maa, focusing on colonial rule during his formative years. This offers a firsthand account of the insecurity of this period, and it conveys the self-effacing compliance of a trusted African who was acting as an intermediary. Continued in Tanganyika Notes and Records 42 (1956): 19–30.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Saitoti, Tepilit Ole. The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography. London: André Deutch, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An autobiographical account of a Serenket Maasai whose schooling takes him out of the mainstream of warriorhood. Yet, he remains tied to his Maasai roots through his subsequent employment and persisting family loyalties. These draw him back from America to take up his traditional responsibilities as his father ages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Spencer, Paul, trans. and ed. ‘The World of Masiani: Portrait of a Maasai Patriarch’ by Masiani Lechieni and family. SOAS Research Online, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Masiani boasts of his truculence as a youth rebelling against a heavy-handed guardian, his adventures as a murani, and his impetuosity as an ageing elder adding colour to his dwindling age-set. However, he does not perceive the perpetuation of this pattern when his senior son rebels against his father’s paternalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Problems of Development among the Maa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The annual growth of population in East Africa of 2–3 percent implies a human density that doubles every twenty-four to thirty-five years. This applies also to the Maa, and coupled with the recurrent loss and alienation of pastureland, these account for the rapid growth of townships and increasing reliance on food aid. This provides the background for a variety of overlapping studies concerned with the implications of growth for future development and increasing economic and social differentiation among the Maa generally. These studies provide a wealth of tables compiled from official records and from research surveys. However, the reliability and credibility of the data should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ecology and the Limitations of Growth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With no means of limiting the growth of individual herds in benign times, a major problem facing Maa societies is the increasing pressure on communal pastureland, leading to soil erosion (“the tragedy of the commons”). Galaty 1980 outlines attempts to resolve this problem through group-owned ranches, noting that they were too small to cope with the uncertainties of rainy seasons. The significance of group-ranches seemed ultimately political, providing security in land tenure against encroaching interests (see Campbell 1993, cited under Decreasing Land and Increasing Inequality). The Homewood and Rodgers 1991 survey considers the long-term interface between wildlife and Maasai land use in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, drawing on current debates over the impact of pastoralism and competing pressures on the ecosystem. This work is complemented by an analysis of the same area (Potkanski 1997), which examines the extent of collaboration among Maasai through kinship and age-set links. Herding strategies are shown to vary according to ecological constraints, with implications for the broader ecosystem. Århem 1985 elaborates on the loss of Maasai pastureland in this area due to official policies for protecting wildlife, on the one hand, and the infiltration of land-hungry cultivators across the Maasai boundary, on the other. This affected especially the poorest Maasai with least influence. Among the northern Maa, increasing pressure on resources has exposed those with too narrow an economic base in difficult times. Thus, Anderson 1988 suggests that the failure of the Chamus irrigation system was due to excessive demands on it in response to the growing opportunities offered by early coastal caravan traders. Camels, too, posed problems of limited growth. Spencer 1973 analyzes the process whereby the viable cattle economy of the Maa-speaking Samburu absorbed the surplus population of the non-Maa Rendille, whose camel herds hardly grew, and the Samburu benefitted from the extra labor and wives. Certain Samburu families also borrowed Rendille expertise in managing camels that they had gained through warfare, establishing a new hybrid branch of Samburu/Rendille, the bilingual Ariaal, who observed Rendille practices in their camel settlements, but still subscribed to Samburu age-set and clanship practices. Following government pacification and new restrictions on unfettered nomadism, it became possible and necessary for the Ariaal to develop a more viable mix of camels and cattle to feed their growing population. However, Fratkin 1991 shows how their hybrid economy, in turn, faced increasingly severe problems of drought due to rising population pressure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Anderson, David M. “Cultivating Pastoralists: Ecology and Economy among the IlChamus of Baringo, 1840–1980.” In The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History. Edited by Douglas H. Johnson and David M. Anderson, 241–260. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Maa-speaking Chamus were irrigation farmers who acquired herds after absorbing impoverished Samburu refugees. As the growing coastal caravan trade exchanged commodities for irrigation produce, this overexploited their irrigation system and led to its destruction by a flash flood. From this point, pastoralism became the dominant factor in their economy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Århem, Kaj. Pastoral Man in the Garden of Eden: The Maasai of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Uppsala Research Reports in Cultural Anthropology 3. Uppsala, Sweden: University of Uppsala, Department of Cultural Anthropology, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Serenket and Salei Maasai previously achieved a viable balance between their cattle herds and wildlife. The systematic alienation of land by the government for the game reserve, by encroaching cultivators, and most recently by influential Maasai ranchers, has increased the differentiation between rich and poor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Fratkin, Elliot. Surviving Drought and Development: Ariaal Pastoralists of Northern Kenya. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            With increasing population, the Ariaal in the 1980s felt harassed by drought on the one hand and development agencies’ attempts to cope with a deteriorating situation for their herds on the other. Mission-funded settlements offered an alternative route to survival, but with no hope of them returning to their former lifestyle.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Galaty, John G. “The Maasai Group Ranch: Politics and Development in an African Pastoral Society.” In When Nomads Settle: Processes of Sedentarization as Adaptation and Response. Edited by Philip Carl Salzman, 157–172. New York: Praeger, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maasai group ranches in Kenya were designed to give more control over land management and encourage shared facilities. However, unlike the traditional tribal sections, these ranches were too small to accommodate localized drought, and the individual herd owners found themselves obliged to revert to their former patterns of extensive grazing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Homewood, K. M., and W. A. Rodgers. Maasailand Ecology: Pastoralist Development and Wildlife Conservation in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. Cambridge Studies in Applied Ecology and Resource Management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511525568Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines the competition for limited grazing between migratory wildlife and Maasai livestock. An interdisciplinary analysis reveals an ecological balance between pastoralists and wild ungulate populations over thousands of years. Thus, the managerial problem of overpopulation cannot be resolved by simply expelling Maasai pastoralists and ignoring their potential role in conservation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Potkanski, Tomasz. Pastoral Economy, Property Rights and Traditional Mutual Assistance Mechanisms among the Ngorongoro. Pastoral Land Tenure Series 2. Warsaw, Poland: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Meticulous analysis of ownership, household economies, and herding strategies among the Serenket and Salei Maasai, who live in the Ngorongoro area. Focuses on traditional notions of property rights, redistributional mechanisms, and survival strategies in the pastoral economy. Concludes with a set of proposals for an integrated development project in Ngorongoro.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Spencer, Paul. Nomads in Alliance: Symbiosis and Growth among the Rendille and Samburu of Kenya. London: Oxford University Press, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The alliance between Maa-speaking cattle-owning Samburu and non-Maa Rendille was cemented by the complementary nature of their economies. This encouraged the emigration of younger Rendille sons and marriage of surplus Rendille women to Samburu, and it also encouraged some Samburu—the Ariaal—to cultivate captured camels, learning to manage these from Rendille immigrants.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Decreasing Land and Increasing Inequality

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The problem of feeding growing populations combined with deteriorating ecological conditions led to imposed grazing schemes in colonial Kenya, then to group ranches after independence in 1963, and finally to the registration of land for individual title holders. In this process, Little 1992, focusing on the transformation of Chamus society, provides a classic analysis in economic anthropology, and may be viewed as a microcosm of change throughout the Maa region. Those Chamus who exploited new opportunities overrode traditional ideals of sharing common resources, and this led to the emergence of an impoverished underclass. Campbell 1993 points to a similar trend among the Kenya Maasai. Increasing population and economic pressure led to the steady spread of Kikuyu farmers into Maasai pastureland, even in colonial times (see Marris and Somerset 1972, cited under Relations with Agricultural Neighbors). Since independence, group ranches were created to consolidate Maasai ownership. However, with increasing pressure on the more productive land, the thrust for individual holdings developed into a political issue. This was supported by ambitious Maasai, but it left the more desolate grazing areas for use by traditional pastoralists, and forced the poorest to join the swelling ranks of marginalized Kenyans elsewhere. Galaty 1981 suggests that this is a result of land becoming a more precious and less fluid resource than stock, leading in turn to a shift in expectations between rich and poor. Rutten 1992 traces the step-by-step transformation of official policies in Kenya over Maasai land ownership as traditional rights and obligations have been devastated by the infiltrations of the capitalist market. Written by a Maasai politician, Parkipuny 1979 claims that the socialist policy of “villagization” among Tanzanian Maasai has been bedeviled by management failures, but at least it has avoided the extremes of wealth and poverty experienced among the Kenya Maasai. This appears to be backed up by Ndagala 1992, a comparison of two Kisonko communities, but only up to a point. Official policies and the trend toward agriculture have created an emerging gap between the mixed economy of the rich and traditional pastoralism among the poor (see Århem 1985, cited under Ecology and the Limitations of Growth). Homewood 1995 points to different causes of land shortage in Kenya compared with Tanzania. However, the response among those most affected has been to revert to traditional patterns of subsistence and survival in both countries, resulting in similar domestic economies. Similarly, Grandin 1988 traces a traditional continuity among poorer pastoralists when their day-to-day existence is compared with the changed lifestyles of those that have successfully entered the cash economy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Campbell, David J. “Land as Ours, Land as Mine: Economic, Political and Ecological Marginalization in Kajiado District.” In Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller, 258–272. London: James Currey, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With population growth, Kikuyu farmers have spread into ecologically marginal areas, encroaching on communal Maasai pastureland. As land has become increasingly scarce, political pressure has built up to subvert Maasai group ranches into individual holdings, providing new opportunities for exploitation by an emerging elite and creating a dispossessed underclass.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Galaty, John G. “Land and Livestock among Kenyan Maasai: Symbolic Perspectives on Pastoral Exchange, Social Change and Inequality.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 16 (1981): 68–88.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/002190968101600106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Traditional notions of reciprocity among Maasai pastoralists permitted a degree of patronage by the wealthy in exchange for security for the poor. However, as land has taken over from livestock as the dominant resource, the advantages for the rich have created a class system that undermines traditional values and obligations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Grandin, Barbara E. “Wealth and Pastoral Dairy Production: A Case Study from Maasailand.” Human Ecology 16 (1988): 1–21.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/BF01262023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Official policy toward pastoralists in Kenya has focused on meat production as a commercial asset. However, poorer herd owners can only afford milk production, which is vital for domestic consumption. With herds up to five times bigger and readier access to facilities, rich herd owners monopolize the market for meat.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Homewood, Katherine. “Development, Demarcation and Ecological Outcomes in Maasailand.” Africa 65 (1995): 331–350.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/1161050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pastureland available to the Maasai has progressively decreased since the 1890s. This continued between the 1960s and 1980s, although with different approaches toward development in Kenya compared with Tanzania. However, Maasai responses to minimize change in their land-use and production systems have led to similar outcomes in both countries.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Little, Peter D. The Elusive Granary: Herder, Farmer, and State in Northern Kenya. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511753077Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Following Kenyan independence, communal land was redistributed to individual title holders. This led to the polarization of Chamus society as food scarcity forced the poorest to sell their land holdings and stock in order to survive in the short term, and this enabled astute opportunists to invest in land, stock, and cheap labor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ndagala, Daniel Kyaruzi. Territory, Pastoralists, and Livestock: Resource Control among the Kisongo Maasai. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis 18. Uppsala, Sweden: Academiae Upsaliensis, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Based on a survey of a remoter traditional Maasai community as compared with one that is close to the forces of modernization. Restrictions on mobility combined with increasing economic independence of younger men are altering the profile of community life and the family as a corporate unit, with winners and losers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Parkipuny, Moringe L. ole. “Some Crucial Aspects of the Maasai Predicament.” In African Socialism in Practice: The Tanzanian Experience. Edited by Andrew Coulson, 136–157. Nottingham, UK: Spokesman, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A critique of government policies since Tanzanian independence. Among Maasai, the official emphasis on togetherness and villagization contrasts favorably with increasing social differentiation in Kenya. However, development has been dogged by switches in policy and a failure to achieve goals, for which the Maasai rather than imported experts have been blamed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rutten, M. M. E. M. Selling Wealth to Buy Poverty: The Process of the Individualization of Landownership among the Maasai Pastoralists of Kajiado District, Kenya, 1890–1990. Saarbrücken, Germany: Verlag Breitenbach, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The analysis includes about 145 detailed tables and 44 maps. This provides a comprehensive record of the transformation of land ownership among the eastern Kenya Maasai. But there is no page index, impeding any reader who wishes to delve deeper into the data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Changing Lifestyles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The pace of change among Maa since Tanzanian independence in 1961 is highlighted by what Gulliver 1969 then called “the conservative commitment.” Gulliver noted that while the Arusha had long settled to a new lifestyle as agriculturalists, they still adhered to pastoral Maa values, like their Kisonko Maasai neighbors, and they expressed indifference to the implications of change (see Spear 1993, cited under Relations with Agricultural Neighbors). As against this assertion, the later assessment in Holland 1996 indicates a considerable shift among Kenya Maasai males in terms of their increasing prospects for education and employment. However, attitudes toward the education of girls were negative, and women’s prospects for employment lagged far behind. The increase in the need for new skills is illustrated by the analysis in Sperling 1987 that identifies factors that account for the steady rise in migration for wage employment by younger Samburu. Declining herds were offset by new opportunities within the wider cash economy and led to the weakening of the traditional authority structure associated with age and also to increasing social differentiation between entrepreneurs and staid traditionalists. Holtzman 2009 depicts the extent to which the Samburu have increasingly relied on new imported foods, affecting their expectations. Traditionally, women had a vital but subordinate role in the stock economy. However, with this shift in diet away from meat and milk, women assumed a key position as the principal distributors of other foods, and this has entailed an adjustment of family roles (see Straight 2000, cited under Position of Women). Lesorogol 2008 considers the extent to which a progressive Samburu group ranch has responded to the opportunities of an increasingly mixed economy as compared with the responses of a more traditionally oriented group ranch in the same area. However, both group ranches were settled on the highland Leroghi Plateau, where cultivation was possible. Their changing lifestyles may, in turn, be set against the arid conditions in the low country, where nomadic Samburu pastoralists face a bleak future. This is bleaker still for their camel-owning Ariaal kin in an even more arid area. Falkenstein 2007 traces the growing migration of destitute Ariaal, Rendille, and some Samburu pastoralists toward the developing multiethnic townships in this remote region. These centers offer work opportunities and alternative foodstuffs for the refugees, but in significantly changed circumstances. Patronage, trade, and opportunities have followed lines of ethnic affiliation; education and church membership have become increasingly important for access to resources, while large-scale age-set rituals, which had previously been an integrating feature of nomadic pastoralism, have now become essentially local affairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Falkenstein, Martin. “Ethnicity and Migration among the Ariaal, Kenya.” In Mobility, Flexibility, and Potential of Nomadic Pastoralism in Eurasia and Africa. Edited by Sun Xiaogang and Naito Naoki, 79–90. Kyoto: Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      With the expanding market economy, new urban centers attract destitute Ariaal pastoralists. From their traditional nomadic settlements, they migrate to the Ariaal sector of a multiethnic cluster of settlements concentrated around these centers and, if desirable, move on to join an Ariaal community close to some other growing township.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Gulliver, P. H. “The Conservative Commitment in Northern Tanzania: The Arusha and Masai.” In Tradition and Transition in East Africa: Studies of the Tribal Element in the Modern Era. Edited by P. H. Gulliver, 223–242. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Arusha were derived from Maa refugees who settled to agriculture and developed separate institutions. However, like their pastoral Kisonko neighbors, they displayed a deep commitment to the status quo. They did not perceive possibilities for change as opportunities, but as threats to their traditional identities and their common self-interest.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Holland, Killian. The Maasai on the Horns of a Dilemma: Development and Education. Nairobi, Kenya: Gideon S. Were, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Concerned with the relationship between wealth, education, and wage employment, and based on a comparison between a remoter traditional area (Morijo/Loita), and one that is more exposed to nearby development and change (Lemek/Purko). Not an easy read, but a careful analysis of a stack of very relevant tables.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Holtzman, Jon. Uncertain Tastes: Memory, Ambivalence, and the Politics of Eating in Samburu, Northern Kenya. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Traces changes in Samburu food habits stemming from population increase coupled with the dramatic reduction in herd sizes due to limited grazing opportunities. Alternative imported foods have implications for values associated with eating and sharing, the position of women as the principal food distributors, and the profile of social life generally.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lesorogol, Carolyn K. Contesting the Commons: Privatizing Pastoral Lands in Kenya. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A novel attempt to explore the rationality of choice through an experimental “game” played by a progressive Samburu group ranch as compared with a less progressive one. The results are not as predicted, but the background material illustrates ways in which Samburu have responded to the privatization of their land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sperling, Louise. “Wage Employment among Samburu Pastoralists of Northcentral Kenya.” Research in Economic Anthropology 9 (1987): 167–190.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The steady increase in the Samburu population in a generally arid area has led to a declining pastoral economy and smaller herds. The need to seek wage employment to bolster domestic economies through remittances has resulted in cooperative arrangements for herding, but also in entrepreneurial investment, increasing social differentiation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Index Of Maa Bibliographic Sources

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Those interested in the Maa-speaking area are often concerned with a particular ethnic group, such as the Maasai or one of their close neighbors. It is useful therefore to draw together the citations for each of these groups in an index, enabling readers to survey the range of writings on their immediate interest. The summary of each work within the body of the article can then be viewed in the wider context of comparable literature on other groups. The piecemeal nature of research in this region makes some form of comparison across boundaries necessary, and this is facilitated by the parallel histories and sense of togetherness among the Maa-speaking peoples as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Maasai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Maasai are the dominant group in this region and consist of sixteen geographical Sections, and small colonies of diviners of the Loonkidongi dynasty. A significant portion of the literature on the Maasai, notably on their history and language, and also popular accounts, make no distinction between different Sections. However, more detailed accounts reveal substantial variation between northern and southern Sections (see Geographic Outline). This index identifies nine of these Maasai Sections for which there is a body of literature that can be tied down to the local level. The less specific literature applies broadly to the other seven Maasai Sections, and indeed to the Maasai as a whole. In the north, the relevant Sections are Purko, Keekonyukie and Uasinkishu, who together play a leading role in initiating each new age-set (see Kinship and Age Systems among Other Maa Speakers). In the south are the Kisonko (who play a leading role in advancing each age-set towards elderhood), the Loitokitok (a branch of Kisonko), and the Serenket (a tourist attraction because of the Ngorongoro game reserve). In the middle, on the Kenya side of the Kenya-Tanzania border are the Loita (who played a prominent role in Maasai history and have retained a high status), and the Matapato and Loodokilani, who are close neighbours and allies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Loonkidongi: Berntsen 1979; Fosbrooke 1948; Spencer 2003; Waller 1995.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Purko: Holland 1996; Tignor 1972; Waller 1988; Waller 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Keekonyukie: Campbell 1993; King 1971; Rutten 1992; Talle 1988; Waller 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Uasinkishu: Geographic Outline; Sankan 1971; Waller 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kisonko: Geographic Outline; Fosbrooke 1948; Gulliver 1969; Hodgson 2001; Hodgson 2005; Hurskainen 2004; Jacobs 1965; Merker 1910; Ndagala 1992; Spear 1993.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Loitokitok: Campbell 1993; Rutten 1992; Spencer 2003.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Serenket: Århem 1985; Homewood and Rodgers 1991; Johnsen 1988; Parkipuny 1979; Potkanski 1997; Saitoti 1980; Saitoti 1986.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Loita: Holland 1996; Llewelyn-Davies 1979; Llewelyn-Davies 1981; Talle 1988; Waller 1988; Waller 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Matapato: Campbell 1993; Chieni and Spencer 1993; Rutten 1992; Spencer 1997.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Loodokilani: Campbell 1993; Galaty 1983; Rutten 1992; Talle 1988.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Other Maa-speaking Peoples

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the periphery of the Maasai proper are six groupings who share the Maa language and culture and identify themselves broadly with the Maasai (see Geographic Outline). However, they each have their own separate territories and independent institutions (see Kinship and Age Systems among Other Maa Speakers). The Samburu are a major group in the north who have recently attracted considerable research interest. The Ariaal are a recent branch of the Samburu who turned to camel rearing, which they learned from their non-Maa Rendille allies. The Chamus were an irrigation society who were strongly influenced by an influx of Samburu refugees and turned to pastoralism. In the south are the Arusha, who are agro-pastoralists, closely associated with the Kisonko Maasai on the one hand and the non-Maa Meru in the other. The Arusha represent the largest concentration of population in the Maa-speaking area, but apart from two significant books, they are under-represented in the literature. The Parakuyu are a dispersed splinter group who were cut off from the Maasai proper during the turbulent pre-colonial period. The Dorobo are small groups of foragers – previously hunters – who are scattered throughout the area and occupy a position on the fringes of the Maa-speaking peoples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Samburu: Geographic Outline; Fratkin 1991; Fratkin 1996; International African Bibliography; Holtzman 2009; Kasfir 2007; Larick 1987; Lesorogol 2008; Nakamura 2005; Pavitt 1991; Ros, et al. 2000; Sommer and Vossen 1993; Spencer 2010; Spencer 1985; Spencer 2014; Sperling 1987; Straight 2000; Straight 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ariaal: Falkenstein 2007; Fratkin 1991; International African Bibliography; Spencer 1973.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chamus: Anderson 1988; International African Bibliography; Kawai 1998; Little 1992; Spencer 1997.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Arusha: Geographic Outline; Gulliver 1963; Gulliver 1969; International African Bibliography; Spear 1993; Spear 1997; Spencer 2003.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Parakuyu: Geographic Outline; Beidelman 1960; International African Bibliography; Hurskainen 1984; Mitzlaff 1988; Rigby 1992; Sommer and Vossen 1993.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dorobo: Berntsen 1979; Cronk 2004; International African Bibliography; Kenny 1981; Klump and Kratz 1993; Merker 1910; Spencer 1973.

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