Culture & Historical activities
Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas. They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain. Offshore lie the tropical islands of Zanzibar, with Arabic influences, and Mafia, with a marine park home to whale sharks and coral reefs.
The Maasai people of Serengeti and Ngorongoro have been herding their cattle for thousands of years. A proud, nomadic warrior race who count their wealth in cattle and children, the Maasai are struggling to integrate themselves in a dwindling world. No longer able to roam as freely as before with their herds, they must restrict their activities based on Tanzania governmental policies or disrupt the fragile ecology and tourism economy of the district as counseled by its policymakers. This is ironic since historically, the Maasai did not kill wild animals nor damaged their environment. They subsisted on the blood, meat and milk of their herds. They disapproved of agriculture on the grounds that it ruined the land for grazing. But today, they are learning to farm and to trade their crafts, their skills and their produce, cooperating with the tourist industries, taking their place as guides, drivers, trackers, cooks, assistants and managers to bring in much-needed revenue for their government and training opportunities for their young people.
They extend a welcome to visitors from the camps in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in return for support of their village, schools and health centers. Friendly and generous hosts, they share their native melody, dancing and ritual wisdom with those who seek to enrich themselves by the experience. The dramatic red cloth cloaks and spears of the Morani, or Maasai warriors, contrast with the rich bead collars of their children and gap-toothed wives, as they sing, dance and enact dramas with enthusiastic joy and pride in the richness of their very different culture. Traditionally, the Maasai live in extended families in Tanzania. The men are responsible for security, fencing their circular kraal with acacia thorns to keep marauding lions from attacking their cattle. The boys act as herdsmen while women and girls build houses or Inkajijik, collect wood and water and prepare food. Today, some families often live independently. The girls are as ambitious as the boys, keen to learn trades and develop skills as cooks, housekeepers, artists, teachers and even as community leaders.