The point of this paper is to trace the origin of the maasai through their stories in order to find out if they were myths or legends.The Maasai is a group of plain Nilotes mostly living in the east African region. Their culture, mostly surrounds nomadic pastoralists that move with their cattle in search of water and pasture. Their creation myth surrounds livestock and mainly cattle which they hold sacred. They attribute their way of life to a myth in which Enkai sent them with cattle from heaven to look after them.
This story does not fit the outfit of being a legend because it is in no way related to the history of the tribe nor can it be authenticated by the occurrences. It is more of a myth, with the inclusion of supernatural beings such as Enkai who are used to narrate their origin. They originated from the Nile basin and walked along the river looking for pasture. They emerged from Lake Turukana found in Kenya and travelled towards the Kerio valley to their present dwelling along the Kenya-Tanzania border.
It does not end here, Enkai who they believe is neither male nor female, was connected to the earth and due to this all the cattle that grazed on it. The day came when the sky and the earth were no longer one, and therefore Enkai was no longer with men. The cattle because they went together began to starve, seeing that they depended on grass. They were later sent down to the Maasai by means of the sacred fig tree, and he ordered them to look after them. Now the Maasai having been given the cattle lived separate lives with their women. This is because the women’s tribe, the moroyok had been raising antelope, zebras, gazelles, elands and even elephants. They used these animals in migrating, and the elephants even tore down branches for them, which they used to build their homes, manyattas.
However, one day as they were bickering and quarrelling their animals found a way to escape. The women who occasionally met with morwak, the male in the forest had intercourse. The offspring from these unions was divided in between them. The women stayed with their mothers while the boys went and stayed with their fathers when they grew up. After some time, the women decided to go live with the men since they lost their herds. Henceforth, they depended on the men for their livelihood and worked for them because they were under their rule.
The myth is mostly told to children. It gives them a sense of duty to livestock when they are growing up. A purpose in life is set at a childhood age and this guide them towards the direction and specific roles that they will play as men or women. In addition, it shapes the community by their means of survival and culture or raiding cattle from other communities with the excuse that they are helping hem look after them.
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