THE ORIGIN OF MAA SOCIETY
Before starting to outline assumptions of the history of the MAA Society, we must actually explain who these people are, known as MAA. The Maasai still have much of their culture, customs, and tradition as they did thousands of years ago. The structure of age grouping in this society is still more or less intact, coupled by the fact that Maasai up to date maintain the stages of their lifestyles from that of childhood, initiation (warriorhood or motherhood), and finally elderhood. This is further explained later.
Truly, many groups of people speak the Maa language but it is necessary to analyze how and why these groups have come to split from each other. Generally, these groups talking the same language differ in one way or another by "SECTIONS" as follows:
Each SECTION lives in its own specific territory. Though one SECTION’s language and dresses are almost the same as those of another, there are slight differences. Their customs and cultures are always the same; therefore all SECTIONS can easily communicate with each other, thereby strengthening their brotherhood and unity.
Some of the obvious differences are based on the economic structures depended upon by each section. Among the nineteen sections mentioned earlier, only four (IL’ARUSA, IL’PARAKUYU, IL’PUSI-KINEJI (SAMBURU) AND IL’TIAMUS (NJEMPS)) are agro-pastoralists. The remaining fifteen depend entirely on livestock economy.
Where did the MAA society originate?
Taking into account that the MAA society does not have a clear written history, it will be difficult to give precise answers to where they actually originated. However, according to the technical languages research (PHILOLOGY), the MAA language is HERMETIC and not one of the numerous BANTU-languages on the African continent.
The above shows that the founders of the MAA community originated from ASIA MINOR (MESOPOTAMIA- the area between TIGRIS and EUPHRATES Rivers in IRAQ).
The presumptions of the Maa people’s origin are based on early written works in which the word MAA frequently occurs. If this present MAA community is really the one being referred to and mentioned in those writings, the truth of that depends on individual’s conviction or belief since there is no concrete evidence available.
One example of such an early written work, where the name MAASAI is mentioned, can be found in the BIBLE. In the old testament, the first book of CHRONICLES – section 9 (1 chronicles: verses 10-13) it is written as follows:
“Of the priests: Jedai ‘ah, joeho ‘arib, Jachin and Azariah the son of Hilki, ‘ah, son of the Meshul’Iam, son of Zadok, son of Mera’ioth, son of Ahi’tub, the Chief Officer of the House of God; and Adai’ah, the son of Jero’ham, son of Pashhur, son of Malchi’jar and MAASAI, the son of Adiel, son of Jah’zerah, son of Mesh’ul lam, son of Meshil’ lemith, son of Immer; besides their Kinsmen, heads of their fathers houses, one thousand seven hundred and sixty, very able men for the work of the service of the House of God.”
Other writings that show the early existence of the Maasai community are those by HERODOTUS, the famous GREEK HISTORIAN who lived 500 years B.C. In his book, he mentions that in an area of ASIA MINOR (MESOPOTAMIA) he found “people known as MAASAI who braid their hair, haircut both two sides of their faces and during the battles they use skin shields”.
Setting the above aside, we can estimate the arrival time of the MAA on the African continent by counting the number of years taken between one age group and another of these people. A ca. 25 years period passes before a name of an age group changes to a new name for a new age group. There are seventeen known age groups up to the present time:
Probably, the MAA people arrived in the areas from the far North of Kenya through Central Tanzania (Tanganyika) southwards to the Northern boundary of Zambia.
The movement of the MAA tribe from the North of the African continent is verified by the tribal related names given to different areas in Egypt, Abysinia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Nile Riverside valley where they were shifting southwards with their herds of livestock.
When these people where shifting with their livestock, they drove away, married or absorbed other tribes they encountered in their way. Other groups in the journey, who got tired or decided that the areas reached were convenient and adequate to their needs of water and pastures for their livestock, settled within as their land up today. Nevertheless the IL’PARAKUYU group is still moving southwards as has now reached the Tanzanian-Zambian boarder.
Other groups started to rely on MIXED ECONOMY of pastoralism and crop husbandry, according to the conducive environments they found in the areas of their shifting (such as the indigenous people whom they besieged and intermarried).
Due to the differences in life styles between groups, those who depended entirely on pastoralism had to shift constantly for adequate needs of their livestock and so their housing needed to be smaller and temporary while those on crop farming economy had to have large and semi permanent houses.