Free Essay Example: Initiation in the Maasai Community

Published: 2023-03-29
Free Essay Example: Initiation in the Maasai Community
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Personal experience Community Social issue
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 930 words
8 min read

My journey to Tanzania to meet Maasai people was one of my best cultural practice experiences. Maasai people originate from South Sudan. Early 18th century they migrated southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania which is their current homeland (McCabe, Smith, Leslie, & Telligman, 2014). I traveled deep in the Mount Kilimanjaro shadows to a district called Kiteto. Their culture and lifestyle always captivated my imagination and wanted to experience the actual culture practices through attending their circumcision ceremony. Before I attended the event, I assumed that there was no girl's circumcision in any culture. However, my thinking was challenged after witnessing the Maasai people circumcising their girls who were comfortable and enjoyed the initiation. Thus, engaging with the Maasai people in their circumcision ceremony helps me to increase my cultural awareness and skills. Therefore, this paper entails a report on the cultural festival of the circumcision ceremony by the Maasai people.

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First, the boys undergo a pre-circumcision initiation which is organized by their fathers. The initiation is meant to form a new age set for the boys to be circumcised which happens after the settlement of senior warriors who had been circumcised earlier. Furthermore, circumcision is meant to uplift someone from childhood to adulthood. Thus, the boys must prove themselves to the community they qualify to get elevated by herding livestock while carrying heavy spears. Before the initiation event, a boy should herd livestock for seven days consecutively. Afterward, the boys waiting for initiation travel across each homestead announcing the new age set whereby they are accompanied by group elders in the community. Moreover, several houses are built for the circumcision event. The location of the houses is chosen by a traditional prophet known as Oloiboni (Bohmer, 2017). Hence, all boys across the community unite and gather together in those houses ready for initiation events. Also, the night before the circumcision ceremony the boys must sleep in the forest. When dawn approaches the boys to go back to their houses before sunrise ready for the significant initiation in the Maasai community.

Early in the morning boys to undergo the initiation take a cold shower to cleanse themselves. After taking the shower, the boys move towards the location of the initiation as their families and friends give them words of courage to face the knife without fear. Also, threats like if they fear the knife, the people would kill them! The society would disown anyone who ran away from the knife. Thus, the circumcision event happens slightly before the sunrise which is performed by a qualified elder with experience of many years. Whereby during the initiation process, the boy undergoing the cut should not even flinch his eye to prove his brave enough for the circumcision (Bohmer, 2017). Hence, after a successful operation, each boy receives different gifts like livestock from friends and family members. More so, the girl's circumcision is slightly different from that of boys. Also, after the initiation, the boys qualify respect for their bravery from members of the community. However, due to respect to Maasai culture and its gender boundaries, I was not permitted to discuss details of their girl's initiation.

After the circumcision event, celebrations began by women gathering together at the end of the village. The Maasai women began to sing and dance as they approached the houses occupied by the boys who were circumcised. Moreover, what I noticed that they knew the houses with the current initiated boys as there was a stick at the top of the roof as a sign. Hence, after reaching those houses, they stop sing and dancing to listen if the boys inside the houses were crying or not. Whereby silent means that the boys are brave to become adults of the Maasai community. Thus, to honor the boy's bravery, the women surround the roundhouses and start to jump as high as they can shouting triumphantly. In that circumcision event, I attended no boy cried due to the initiation. Due to my curiosity, I asked what were the repercussions if someone cried. They answered that the boy was not ready to become an adult and the women would cry as well (McCabe, et al., 2014)

My attendance in the circumcision ceremony of Maasai people challenged my perception regarding my cultural competence. More so, the occasion assisted me to build an effective understanding of people. Also, open to diverse cultural perspectives and respectful to different cultural practices. It was overwhelming to visit and witness the circumcision festival as I got to learn different rituals and customs of Maasai people. Moreover, the engagement with the Maasai people challenged my thoughts of being culturally competent. Initially, I thought reading books and watching movies alone facilitated me to be culturally competent until I participated in the initiation event in the Maasai community. My experience in the ceremony was crucial to boost my competence culturally as I was able to learn the history, traditions, and cultural practices of Maasai people which differ from our culture.

In conclusion, my visit to Maasai land improved my culturally competent as I learned different rituals and customs. Also, the interaction with the Maasai people enhanced my understanding of their cultures. Hence, I can honor their histories and traditions after self-engagement with them in the circumcision ceremony.


Bohmer, K. (2017). Witnessing a Maasai circumcision ceremony. Retrieved from

McCabe, J. T., Smith, N. M., Leslie, P. W., & Telligman, A. L. (2014). Livelihood diversification through migration among pastoral people: contrasting case studies of Maasai in Northern Tanzania. Human Organization, 73(4), 389. Retrieved from

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