Maasai - Moran, Eunoto - The coming of age ceremony of the Maasai warrior
Arriving from the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya and central Tanzania between the 17th and late 18th centuries; the Maasai -- often misspelled Masai -- territory achieved its largest size during the mid-19th century, covering virtually all of the Great Rift Valley and neighboring Mt Marsabit in the north and as far south as Dodoma. Although today you will find; Maasai moved as far south as the town of Iringa and sometimes beyond. The Maasai, a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic origins, are among some of the best known tribes in Africa. The tribe consists of twelve geographic sectors, each with its own leadership, dialects, customs and appearance, a characteristic still being followed today. Their distinctive dress, with red as a favorite color; Maasai are often known as bright and colorful ornamented warriors. The main article of clothing being a wrap; women's wraps are called kanga, where men's wraps are called kikoi. Another characteristic of these people are the fact that they reside near the many game parks in East Africa. During the German invasion, the people of the Maasai stood against slavery, and outsiders looking for people to enslave kept away from these people who managed to live alongside most wild animals. A myth about the Maasai: each young man is thought to kill a lion before "Emorata", and in doing this, obtains great importance while becoming an icon in the community. Lion hunting has been banned in East Africa, although it is accepted if a lion killed Maasai livestock -- the independent source of this tribe's survival being cattle. The majority of boys between the ages of 12 and 25 (after reaching puberty and not part of the previous age-set) undergoes initiation and will be independently named a new generation of "Morans" or "Il-Murran" (warriors). One rite of passage involves "Emorata" (circumcision), and boys must remain in black attire for between 4 and 8 months. These young men will live in a "Manyatta" which was built by their mothers, these villages has no encircling barrier, giving emphasis to the role of the Il-Murran protecting the people. The coming of age ceremony -- "Eunoto" -- takes place approximately every 15 years and lasts for up to ten or more days during the rainy season. By using the horn of the Greater Kudu, the Il-Murran are summoned to the Eunoto ceremony. Warriors are required further rites of passage before accruing senior status. The existing Il-Murran will graduate to junior elders, taking over the task of political decisions from the now senior elders. Singing, dancing and rituals are practiced where warriors perform the "Adumu" or "Aigus", referred to as 'the jumping dance' by non-Maasai people. The Adumu is performed in a circle -- 'fold', where one or sometimes two warriors will enter the center and whilst retaining a narrow pose, start jumping as high as they can without letting their heels touch the ground. This dance helps determine a warrior by testing their strength and endurance, and of course, to impress young girls. Some dance intently, others chuckle and sway their bodies, others force their breathing and jerk their heads back in mid jump, whilst others jump only once before returning to the fold. When a dancer gets tired, another takes his place, they are able to keep this up for hours. As part of the Eunoto, warriors' mothers join in the song and dance, honoring their sons' courage and bravery, while the "Intoyie" (girlfriends) parade themselves in their most impressive dress. Music by tradition consists of rhythms while an "Olaranyani" (song leader) sings the melody and the chorus is provided by vocalists singing harmonies. Several Olaranyani may lead a song, and begins by singing a "Namba" (title or line), where after the group will respond with one undivided call in acknowledgement. Lyrics follow a classic subject matter and are sometimes repeated word for word as the song progress. The hypnotizing gruff sound of the warriors' polyphonic rhythm effortlessly separates a person from the reality of silence, and even after their song has stopped, their music still has a strong after-effect. Il-Murran will now spend their days beyond the boundaries of sectional frontiers, wandering Maasai lands and become much more engaged in cattle trading rather than stealing as in earlier days. The Maasai people believe that all cattle on earth were given to them by "Enkai" -- God.
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