The kenya masai age-set

The Kenya Masai Age-set

This is the central unit of governance in any Masai community. Once a child is born, after three months, he becomes a very important part of the society. A child is not named or full accepted in to the society until three months are over due to the high mortality rate. The boy as he grows is shown how to be a man. Aspects of manhood are measured by one’s ability to withstand pain. Ritual beatings are common where the boy is mercilessly beaten and taught how to endure pain. This makes them strong and brave men fit to guard the community from other tribes and wild animals. At the age of thirteen to twenty five years, the boy child is circumcised.

The age normally depends on the timing of the initiation ceremony that is normally performed after every fifteen years. Once the boy is circumcised, he now graduates to become a junior Moran. The circumcision ceremony involves cutting off the boys’ foreskin without anesthesia. This is a very painful procedure but the boy is not supposed to show any sign of pain or discomfort. If he does, this brings shame to his family. A makeshift bandage made from cow’s hide is used to stop excessive breeding.

The junior Masai after circumcision goes to live with the other men in a manyatta built by their mothers until they are completely healed. They are charged with the duty of protecting the society and their individual families. During the next initiation ceremony, probably after fifteen years, they are promoted to become junior elders and after that senior elders. This is an age set cycle that repeats itself after every fifteen years.

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