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The Spitting Tradition Among The Maasai

By Tariemi Oreoritse
11 March 2022   |   12:00 pm
In many cultures, spitting is a sign of irritation, disregard or disagreement. This is the opposite among the Maasai tribe of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Although this tribe makes only about 1% of the population, they are internationally recognised and have become a tourist attraction. Their unique cultural practices and authentic way of life has…

PHOTO: Wikipedia

In many cultures, spitting is a sign of irritation, disregard or disagreement. This is the opposite among the Maasai tribe of Kenya and northern Tanzania.

Although this tribe makes only about 1% of the population, they are internationally recognised and have become a tourist attraction. Their unique cultural practices and authentic way of life has been featured in many popular African series, such as The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Why do the Maasai Spit?

  1. To bless a person- in a typical Tanzanian setting, people sit on their hands before shaking each other. This is a sign of endorsement and utmost respect. You don’t spend your precious spit on just anyone! 
  2. To wish a new born baby good fortune- the Maasai tribe believes that if they say good things about a child when it is born, the child will be cursed and may not live a good life. So instead of jinxing the child’s good luck, they say bad things about the child, and spit on the child with the hope that this child wll life a long, happy life.
  3. To congratulate a bride- the father of a bride, on her wedding day makes a show of spitting on her forehead and breasts. This is to wish her good luck and pray that she be fertile.

More About The Maasai

The Maasai live a very unique way of life. They are mostly nomads, and those who arent nomads, work as tour hands and show the tourists around.

Maasai people are known for their dressing; they wear numerous circular beads around their waist and neck, and wear a headpiece.. Both men and worm adorn themselves with a red sheet-like material called Shuka.

Seeing as they rear cattle, this debunks the Western myth that cattle attack anything and anyone wearing bright red.