Inhabiting areas along the Great African lakes and the Savannah plains of Tanzania and Kenya, people show the true strength of Africa despite being in the wild and walking proudly on the surface of the earth. 

With a combined population of around 2 million people, the Massai tribe of Kenya and Tanzania are a large and fascinating ethnic group in Africa.

Well identified by their prominent red robe and other colourful attire, the Massai people are renowned warriors and pastoralists who have for hundreds of years roamed the wild savannahs of East Africa.

The first Massai, a great warrior known as Maasinta was believed to have received cattle from the sky god, Ngai (sounds similar to a certain story in the Bible and Qur’an).

Ngai lowered the cattle on a leather thong and Maasinta received them. Cattles have since that time been revered and held as sacred, with their value only being rivalled by the value of children by the Massai people.

The most successful of the Massai people are those with large families and an even larger herd of cattle and sheep. 

Fast-rising civilizations across the world, especially in developing countries have not really affected the Massai people as they have fought to preserve their culture. You still see them in their colourful robes called shuka, herding cattle, spitting and drinking blood.

Common to the Massai people is the jumping dance called “Adamu”. The jumping dance is one of the numerous initiation rites for young men who are transitioning to adulthood, where boys become men.

Accompanied by a song, men, grouped in pairs take turns to see who can jump the highest… Life is all about survival for the fittest, where else would you put this theory to test if not amongst warriors and nomads?

The jumping dance is a ritual performed to show fitness and level of physical strength, it is a show that determines whether a boy is eligible to become a bachelor. The one who jumps the highest attracts the best of brides.

Adorned with vibrant colours, the cloth worn by the Massai people is known as Shuka. It is mostly red, as red is considered to be sacred by the Massai people. The colour represents blood and is the basic colour for all Shuka.

Aside from the representation of the colour red to the Massai people, it is also believed that it protects them from wild animals.

Amongst the Massai people, colours have what they represent; orange depicts hospitality, warmth and friendship. Blue is for the sky that provides rain for the feeding of cattle. Green is for nourishment and production while yellow depicts fertility and growth. 

These colours make the Massai people distinct in the whole of East Africa.

One culture of the Massai people that might not sit well with many in this age and time is spitting. While it is a widespread belief that saliva is a private thing, amongst the Massai, saliva is considered good luck to be shared.

When shaking the hand of an elder, it is of utmost importance to spit in one’s palm and upon the birth of a new baby, one must spit onto the head of the baby in order to ward off evil spirits.

Spitting is not the only culture of the Massai people that looks or sounds odd, they also drink blood.

You read that right the first time, the Maasai are hematophagous, meaning that they drink blood for nourishment.

Now, take a pause, do not imagine a vampire party at night with many candles and blood dripping into a bowl at the centre of the room… Of course with a person hanged upside down, but no, this is not the case.

The Massai people have their bewildering blood drink by mixing cow blood with milk, I bet not many people are curious to know how that tastes.

The Massai are opposed to eating wild animals, so they eat more domesticated meat, however, consumption of beef is mainly for special occasions only.


The Massai people are found in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa. They are fearless and mostly live as herders.

Their cattle mean a lot to them just like Fulanis of other parts of Africa.