Maasai (Tanzania)

Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress. The Maasai speak the Maa language, a member of the Nilo-Saharan family that is related to Dinka, Kalenjin and Nuer languages. Some have become educated in the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili and English.

The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age-old customs. An Oxfam study has suggested that the Maasai could pass on traditional survival skills such as the ability to produce food in deserts and scrublands that could help populations adapt to climate change. Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their villages to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle, in return for a fee. They are considered one of the tallest people in the world, with an average height of 6 ft 3 inches according to some reports.

(Pictures taken in 2004)

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