Maasai ceremony

After the game drive to the hippo pool, our guides told us that the local Maasai were holding a ceremony that evening. The camp asked the Maasai if our safari members could attend, including women. The Maasai ceremony is normally for males only. That evening we were told that we could attend!

We drove to a distant kopje and were led into a broad cave formed by a granite overhang. The top and back of the cave are blackened by many fires. The cave is surrounded by thorny branches, with a large thorny branch for the door.

Maasai ceremonial cave
Maasai ceremonial cave

Four Maasai adults greeted us. John spoke, and our guide Felix translated.  John is dressed in blue, and Felix is in green. John is a Maasai elder and a camp employee. Lucas, who guarded us on bush walks, is the second Maasai from the right. Here’s what I recall, but there are probably errors and gaps in my understanding.

Felix explaining the Maasai ceremony
Felix explaining the Maasai ceremony

In the Maasai culture, males pass through several levels as they progress from boy to elder. Training is required to progress to the next level. The Maasai hold the training in this cave. A ceremony marks successful passage to the next level.

Boys are being trained to go to the next level, which I believe is morani or warrior. The boys were here in the afternoon, but they aren’t here now. Boys pay goats as tuition for the training. One goat for every two days of training.

The Maasai roasted a goat for us.

roast goat and red soup
roast goat and red soup

The Maasai eat communally, with each person sharing each cut of meat. They start by offering honored guests the best part — the liver. They invited every one to take part, telling us we could pass.

John cutting a goat leg for us
John cutting a goat leg for us

I wanted to try the goat, but I don’t like liver, eating it only when there’s nothing else and then smothering it in ketchup.  I took a piece of liver and managed to eat it in several bits, hopefully with a smile on my face.  After the liver, they served a foreleg, a hindleg, and ribs.  The rest of the goat was very good!

They prepared a red soup. If they explained what was in the soup, I missed it.  Then they served the soup.  I had read that the Maasai diet consists primarily of blood and milk, with meat for special occasions.

making the red soup
making the red soup
straining the soup
straining the soup

I took a cup of soup.  It was watery and a little bitter. Hopefully the red is from tree bark and not blood.

The outing was a surprise cultural treat!


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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