The Warrior’s Dilemma: Can Maasai Culture Persist in a Changing World?

Ahmed, Zahra; Booth, Laura; Njagi, Loise; Stephanou, Elleni

The Maasai people have acted as the historical stewards of the land and wildlife of the Amboseli Ecosystem for centuries. Maasai culture and its accompanying traditions compose one of the most well-studied anthropological systems in the world. Currently, Maasai culture and tradition face more challenges than ever before. Through a series of interviews with various constituents of the Amboseli community, we sought to discover which traditions the Maasai continued to find important, what were the most formidable threads to those traditions, and how the Maasai were responding to those threats. Community members identified four primary traditions that continue to be important: social connectedness, dress and ornaments, connection with wildlife and nature, and the practice of Moranism. Threats to these traditions include increased presence of Westerners, tourists, and conservationists; climate change and increased incidence of drought; changing land tenure systems; and the introduction of formal education among younger generations. Maasai community members have responded to these threats by keeping, discarding, or evolving the tradition based on its importance to them. Based on these findings, we detail potential strategies for the maintenance of those traditions which are currently evolving: Moranism and pastoralism. These recommendations will inform Maasai community members about the scope of solutions they currently face, as well as providing insight into more innovative solutions that could be implemented in the future.


Also Published In

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth Institute
Published Here
December 9, 2015