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    Farai Mushangwe REG Number: R168003G Programme: SHS Course : HHS003 Lecturer: DR.Ndaripa QUESTION: Explain the socio- economic life of the Maasai is it correct to regard the Maasai as exclusively pastoralist .Support your answer with specific examples from East Africa?  The socio-economic life of the Maasai had raised much debate in the discipline of academics since most scholars had the view that the Maasai were the pastoralist tribe who depend on cattle and its products. Trade was another economic activity of the Maasai and rituals were performed such as circumcision or slaughter of lions. Also decision making was done by the old men in the Maasai culture. A Maasai prayer “Meishoo iyiook enkai inkishu”  (May the Creator give us cattle and children) demonstrates the importance of livestock to the Maasai economy according to R.B. Anderson and L.Dana 1 . The type of marriage which was practiced in Maasai was polygamous that is having more than one wife. The Maasai did perceive themselves only as pastoralists and they perceived their involvement in hunting and gathering or agriculture as being incompatible with their pastoral ideal according to John L. Berntsen 2 . Maasai subsistence is ideally derived from the products of livestock including meat, milk, and blood. However to lesser extent the Maasai cannot be termed exclusively pastoralist because there is evidence the Maasai were involved in trade of ivory and fighting warriors to defend and crush weaker tribes. The most important thing about the Maasai is that when people head of the name then pastoralist came in mind. Rearing of cattle is the most important economic activity of the Maasai because the worth and influence of the Maasai family came from how many cattle’s one own. Whilst most communities came to own the smaller varieties of stock, only a few mastered the skill of tending the larger ones, among these the Tuareg of the Sahara, the Fulani of the West African savannah and the Masai of the East African grassland remained overwhelmingly committed to animal husbandry, and have eschewed any attempt at combining this skill with that of plant husbandry according to J.Ki-zerbo 3 .Therefore one could agree that the Maasai were exclusively  pastoralist who depended on animal husbandry. Maasai subsistence is ideally derived from the  products of livestock including meat, milk, and blood according to W. Lior. However some scholars had mentioned the barter trade to be supplying the Maasai with honey and grain but that is to a smaller extent. Chaga enjoyed close relations with pastoral Maasai, spoke Maa, supplies to 1  R.B. Anderson and L.P.Dana , Special : Indegenous Entrepreneurship Foreword ,International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation ,vol 18 (2),2005 ,p.208 2   John L. Berntsen, The Maasai and Their Neighbors: Variables of Interaction, African Economic History, No. 2 (Autumn, 1976), p. 1 3  J.Ki-zerbo , General History of African .1 , Methodology and African Prehistory ,Heinemann , California ,Unesco ,1981,p. 342  Maasai herders during drought according to T.Spear and D.Nurse 4  .Therefore from the above it is clear the Maasai were exclusively hunters. In addition, the social life of the Maasai comprised of the fact that marriage was a polygamous which means that Maasai could marry more than one wife. Marriage is polygamous; it is viewed as a relationship between families as well as between the bride and groom according to S.Bekure at al 5 . The most questionable thing in the marriage is the view that marriage is seen as a relationship between two families but what happen when one marries more than one wife. Maasai society is patriarchal and polygamous and herds are typically owned and managed by men and their extended household that may include a number of wives, their children, and dependant relatives according to Weissbrod 6 .Therefore one would argue that women are subordinated in the culture of the Maasai .The other fact is the idea that men were supposed to own cattle and could also dictate the issue .Women were supposed to be responsible for maintenance the households. Therefore one could agree that since women did own cattle it means the Maasai were exclusively pastoralist. Furthermore, traces of trade in Maasai had been observed by scholarly evidence which posit trade was sustaining the so called exclusively pastoral society. The ivory trade was lucrative, and the Masai, despite their vaunted aloofness, were eager to share in it and if a pastoralist lost his cattle, he had to adopt agriculture or hunting as a way of life if he wished to survive. If he was unable to obtain cattle, what began as a temporary situation became permanent according to  John L. Berntsen 7 . Therefore one could argue that the Maasai could have been hunters in the early times  because how could they obtain ivory from elephants without hunting elephants. Maasai subsistence is ideally derived from the products of livestock including meat, milk, and blood, but also includes non-pastoral foods such as grain or honey that in the past would have been acquired from neighboring hunter-gatherer according to L. Weissbrod. Therefore the above critic refute the idea that the Maasai were exclusively hunter because grain and honey was being used to 4   T.Spears and D. Nurse ,Maasai Farmers: The Evolution of Arusha Agriculture, The International Journal of Historical Studies,vol.25,no.3(1999),p.484   5   Solomon Bckure, dc Lccuw P N, Grandin B E and Neate P J H (eds). Maasai herding: An analysis of the livestock  production system of Maasai pastoralists in eastern Kajiado District, Kenya. ILCA Systems Study 4, ILCA (lnternational Livestock Centre for Africa), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1991p.25 6   Weissbrod, Lior, "The Small Animals of Maasai Settlements: Ethnoarchaeological Investigations of the Commensalism Model" ,  All Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) . 373,2010,p.48 7   John L. Berntsen, The Maasai and Their Neighbors: Variables of Interaction, African Economic History, No. 2 (Autumn, 1976), p.3    sustain the people of Maasai which means that Maasai had a mixture culture whereby they could trade for basic goods which other neighbors knows how to produce such as grain and maize. In addition, the social life of the Maasai had practiced the circumcision and other rituals  performed as the culture required. This distinctive feature of east African pastoral societies is grounded on highly-defined roles and ideals deeply dependent on clear-cut life stages, in all cases, determined by rituals of passage, e.g. circumcision as ritual that marks the passage from childhood to warriorhood or the slaughter of the Great Ox according A. Allegretti 8 .The process of one to be a warrior was very important in the sense that it was something which was earned not given .Also the Maasai had a religion and this can be evidenced by the prayers found in among the Maasai. A Maasai prayer “Meishoo iyiook enkai inkishu”  (May the Creator give us cattle and children) demonstrates the importance of livestock to the Maasai economy ,note that cattle come first before the children and cattle are the most valuable of all Maasai livestock according to  R.B. Anderson and L.P.Dana   9 .The above statement show that cattle is the major reason for the Maasai to be pastoralist than being farmers or hunters Notwithstanding the pastoralist ethic affirmed by all Maasai, Maa-speaking groups do exist who practice forms of cultivation (as well as hunting), thereby representing such anomalies that are provided for by the polarities of the initial typology according to J.Galaty 10 .One could argue that Maasai were exclusively  pastoralist. Furthermore, the Maasai had a strong historical background which had linked them to be exclusively pastoralist this had roused so much debate among the scholars. Traditionally the Maasai were pastoralists raising mainly cattle but also small stock such as goats and sheep and given their tolerant attitude towards wildlife, they lived side by side with wildlife according to N.  Navayaole 11 . This had been widely accepted and become the norm of the Maasai sort like a  brand to them but some scholars had contested the idea. Due to cattle disease and scarcity of  pastures, this group sometimes engages in agriculture even though their preference is pastoralism 8  A.Allegretti , Maasai ethnic economy : Rethinking Maasai Ethnics identity and the Cash economy across the rural  –urban interface ,Tanzania  , A thesis submitted to the University of Manchester for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy   , School of Social Sciences ,p.20 9  R.B. Anderson and L.P.Dana , Special : Indegenous Entrepreneurship Foreword , International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation , vol 18 (2),2005 ,p.208 10   JOHN G. GALATY, being “Maasai”; being “people-of-cattle” :  ethnic shifters in East Africa,American Ethnological Society,1982,p.9 11   Ndaskoi, Navaya ole, "The Roots Causes of Maasai Predicament" .  Absrcinal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi) .442.,2005,p.3  according to S . Ladislaus 12  .Therefore one would argue that Maasai were not exclusive hunters  because it does make sense to view them adopting to agriculture when diseases destroyed their cattle. Arusha assimilated increasing numbers of pastoral and 1890s, when droughts, diseases, and civil wars on Kisongo, Sikirari, Matapato, Loitai, and other Maasai to their Arusha neighbors, relate and age mates according to T.Spears and D. Nurse 13  .To a greater extent the Maasai were not exclusively hunters. All in all, the socio-economic of the Maasai had been engaged in various economic activities such as pastoralism, trade and sometimes hunting .Also on the social activities the Maasai  practiced religion, had a complex age sets and women were subordinated since cattle is owned  by the male .Therefore to a greater extent the Maasai were not exclusively pastoralist this can be  proved by the food such as grain and honey rather depending on meat and milk only . Also the other view is that when their cattle were struck by disease the Maasai would then temporary  practiced agriculture in order to survive. One would challenge the statement that the Maasai were strictly pastoralist. 12  S.Ladislaus , The Social and Political Context of Literacy Education for Pastoral Societies : The Case of the Maasai of Tanzania , Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference , Conference papers  ,1994 , p.5 13   T.Spears and D. Nurse ,Maasai Farmers: The Evolution of Arusha Agriculture, The International Journal of  Historical Studies ,vol.25,no.3(1999),p.486  
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