The God The Knight The Masai

The tribe of Masai, originally the nomadic and pastoralists, is one of the most famous tribes of Africa. This Nilotic ethnic group inhabits the large parts of northern, central and southern Kenya and also spreads across the border towards northern Tanzania. The language spoken by the Masai tribe is Maa. However, the younger generations also speak the national language of Kenya & Tanzania – Swahili & English.

The ancestors of Masai migrated from Rift Valley, which is now called Southern Sudan, to central Kenya around the 15th century. The Masai tribe, belonging to Nilotic ethnic group, are people indigenous to the Nile Valley. They followed the Nile river down through Kenya before reaching Tanzania hundreds of years ago. As per the oral history of Masai origins, the tribe land stretches from Lake Turkana in the north to central Tanzania in the south. Over the period, the Masai land has shrunk with the decline in the population by two-thirds in the late 1800s due to disease epidemics like rinderpest & smallpox. Also, around the 1900s, the government took some land to create ranches for settlers & large national parks, which are now the Masai Mara National Park & the Serengeti National park.

The God, The Knight, And The Masai

The mythology of Masai goes by, The God – Ngai or Engai (also called Enkai in Maa language); The Knight – Knight Huroo (originator of Masai); and the Masai (themselves).

As the story goes by, the supreme god ‘Engai’ created Knight Huroo and his wife. They were sent with few cattle to the Earth’s bounty to protect the whole Earth and nature for the future generations. This couple had three sons and three daughters. The eldest of all was given a bow & arrow to earn a living. He became a hunter and believed to be the direct ancestor of the Kamba people. The second son was given a hole, and he became a farmer. He is the direct ancestor of the Kikuyu people. The youngest one was given a rod to earn a living. He became a herdsman and was said to be the direct ancestor of the Masai people.

Basis the story laid out, Engai or supreme god, was androgynous, possessing both male and female principles. There are two manifestations of the Engai: Engai Narok, the God of goodness & benevolence represented by black and also associated with rain, fertility, sun, and then there is another god, Engai Nanyokie, the vengeful God represented by red and associated with anger and punishment.

Cattle are their Birthright

The greatest gift of God to the Maasai tribe is CATTLE. It is not just a source of food for them, but there is a great emphasis placed on the symbolism of cattle. It is to be believed that at one point in time, all cattle on the earth belonged to ENGAI.

Meat-eating & milk consumption are the experiences of the highest order. It is consumed at the most important life events such as birth, marriage, circumcision, and death. Drinking the blood of cattle is a delicacy amongst the Maasai. A vertical slit is made with an arrow on the animal’s jugular vein in such a way that the same can be sutured.

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