Maasai Leave Remains to Predators

by M-Rebeiro

The Maasai people believe that immortality is achieved when leaving behind a family whose very existence stems from a life that has been dedicated to care and attention. To leave no successors is to face oblivion in the fullest sense, and it may be taken as a sign of having been cursed.

The Maasai are a nomadic tribe located in Kenya and norther Tanzania in Africa. They are one of the better known African tribes, numbering over a million in population. They live close to many East African game parks and offer visits to tourists.

The Maasai people have their own ideas about death primarily due to the high mortality rate in infants and the high risk of disease in tribal life. Babies are not recognized until the age of 3 moons (3 months). The life they lead is almost entirely without ceremony, so the dead are left out for scavengers. Any body not picked up by scavengers is considered a bad omen so the families often coat the body in blood or fat to make it more enticing.

Burial is typically reserved for great chiefs, since it is believed to be harmful to the land, although the increasing number of Christians and Muslims in the Maasai population may lead to traditional burials occurring more often.

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