The Maasai are one of the world’s last great warrior cultures. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the chief of the Maasai tribe based in the Masa Mara Game Reserve. Ole Muli is 96 and the last of his generation still around.
The role of the Maasai chief is to govern over the village; making daily decisions; disciplining where necessary and solving disputes amongst the villagers. With the advent of educated youth who tend to lose roots with their culture, it has now become the responsibility of the chief to make sure the younger generations are conscious of their ethnic and cultural identity.
The difference between the young and old is most visible through markings on the body. Senior men and women had no schooling and this is clear through their stretched ears. The Maasai who go to school now don’t tend to stretch their ears, but at an early age, their front adult teeth are sometimes removed so that they can be identified as part of the tribe when roaming the city.
The warrior is a source of pride in the Maasai culture and therefore most of the images captured of the warriors are with stern faces clutching their spears. My favourite photograph from the day is the final image as I finally made the chief laugh when asking him about his spears.