An estimated 450,000 Maasai people live in the rural plains of Tanzania, where their nomadic life and long history as herders have made them one of the most famous tribes in all of Africa. Even as Kenya and Tanzania—two East African countries the Maasai call home—move towards industrialization, their governments have worked hard to develop social and anthropological programs to protect their traditional way of life.
Travelers to game reserves, scrublands and Tanzanian deserts can easily find Maasai settlements where lanky men and women dressed in brilliant red robes welcome outsiders to learn more about their lifestyle, community and culture. The Maasai are a patriarchal people, where elder males act as decision makers on matters that impact the village. Boys are sent out to the pasture to keep watch over the cows as soon as they can walk and girls are required to maintain the household. One of the core tenants of the group is a practice called “amitu”—a term that means, “to make peace.” It’s an important part of the Masaai tradition and asks that each member make reparations for any wrongdoing to his or her peers.
While Maasai communities, often called bomas, exist throughout Tanzania, it’s easy to include a visit to one of these communities on a trip to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Close to 43,000 Maasai live alongside Africa’s wildlife in this protected area, where they practice their pastoral life, looking after goats, sheep, cattle and donkeys. Two main bomas—one on the way to the Serengeti, and another closer to Sopa Lodge at Irkeepusi Village—welcome travelers looking to learn more about the culture and practices of this ancient tribe.