A new study being carried out at the University of Leicester traces the erosion of the traditional concept of Maasai manhood and the emergence of new role for Maasais- reliving their warrior dreams in paid employment, business or trading in livestock.
The romantic notion of the ‘noble savage’ Maasai warrior, replete with traditional ponytails and weapons- a key image for tourism in Kenya - masks a crisis of cultures that has blighted this once proud tribal race, according to a study at the University of Leicester. It identifies the gradual emasculation of the traditional concept of Maasai manhood as being one of the root causes of the transformation of Maasai identity.
The doctoral thesis by Thomas Kibutu, of the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester, highlights how a way of life that stood the test of time for hundreds of years was eroded under the ‘civilising process’ of colonial and post-colonial rule so that it is now a shadow of its former glory. But it also reveals how Maasai men are now reclaiming their ‘lost manhood’ by engaging in roles that help them to regain a sense of their identify. The study highlights key ways by which Maasai men traditionally associated their manhood:
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