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Maasai life part III

Age sets

When the children are born they follow different paths depending if they are male or female.

The early stages are not very different, but when they start growing it changes.



The kids become Laioni when they start, around the age of 5-6 years to shepherd the herds, first the goats then as they grow older, the cows which bear more responsibility.

When they are around 14 they get circumcised and they become sipolio.

The circumcision is done during a specific ceremony called emorata, it is an important rite of passage, the cuts are painful but the boy cannot cry or fight because that would be a shame for the family

Sipolio is a stage just after circumcision, when young boys dress black, paint their face white and leave out of their family boma, seeking hospitality in other bomas, they kill birds to decorate their heads with the feathers, they start with 2 ostrich feathers, that they find in the bush, one each side of the head

The period of sipolio lasts only few months and then they become warriors, ilmoran

The ilmoran cannot marry, cannot eat or drink alone and have to grow their hair, their duty is to protect the community from predators and other tribes or communities, to deliver messages from the elders and to protect the herds when they go grazing far away

Each warrior belongs to a rika, a sort of legion. The actual rika is called Korianga, the previous one was called Kingonde, the previous again was Olmaka the next rika will be called Nyangulo and will start around February

Each rika has a chief called leguanan that is choosen and he will sit with a council of nine warriors called ingopir.

When a new rika is formed the new warriors start joining it.

After 9 year from the creation of the new rika they pass through the eunoto ceremony where they are admitted to the next level, they are still warriors but they can marry and cut their hair if they want.

During the eunoto the mothers shave the warrior’s heads as a symbol of the passage to the next level. Then after the eunoto other warriors start getting in the rika, after 9 other years the new warriors will pass through the eunoto as well (the warriors that already did eunoto before will also join). and then the rika is closed.

When the rika closes, it means that no other warrior can join and they have to wait the next rika to officially open

Normally a couple of years after the second eunoto, there is the erng’heri ceremony where the warriors become elders, the rika finishes and a new rika is formed. The old rika keeps its duties for a year or so till the new one is strong enough

The erng’heri is the final ceremony for the rika of warriors and it is always preceded by a smaller erng’heri held privately at the liabon’s (spiritual and medicine man) boma.

As a result some warriors are warriors for 20 years and more other for less because if the rika is not closed every time a man finishes his sipolio enters in the rika as a warrior, some of them may be warriors for only a short time if they enter at the final stage of the rika

In some subtribe the warriors that get in the rika before the first eunoto are considered more important and called ilmoran tatene (right warriors) while the one that enter after the first eunoto are called ilmoran kedienye (left warriors). If this is the case the two sides of the rika have different leguanan.

After the erng’heri the rika does not end, it goes into the elder stage where all the members are elders and not warriors anymore, the rika will still be commanded by the same leguanan that can only be disposed if he misbehaves.

If a warrior or an elder seeks hospitality in another boma, the hospitality will be granted always if there is another man belonging to the same rika. If there is nobody of the same rika the man will seek another boma and not even stop at that one if possible.

The host will offer the guest from the same rika one of his wives to sleep with at night. The wife has the right to refuse having intercourse with the guest and in that case he will just sleep in his own bed. If children are conceived during this situations, they are considered the children of the owner of the husband of the woman.

When the warriors became elders and their job is to manage their family, wives and sons and the boma and this will be till the end of their life.