The Massai people having an estimated population of 900,000 dwelling in Kenya and the northern parts of Tanzania are considered to be the most well known ethnic group of Africa. They are so unique in their traditions, customs and dressings and known as Nilotic ethnic group. Despite of the numerous efforts of the governments of Kenya and Tanzania to change their perambulatory life styles, they are continuing their ancient customs. They are distinguished in the world for their horrific warrior characteristic and cattle desperados.
The Massai are monotheistic, and they worship Enkai or Engai. Acceding to their beliefs Engai is a single deity of twofold dispositions. Engai Narok (Black God) is beneficent, and Engai Nanyokie (Red God) is of retaliating nature. The “Mountain of God”, Ol Doinyo Lengai, is situated in northernmost Tanzania. The Massai are also prominent in all ethnic groups of the world for their byzantine jewelry. The clothing of Massai is also idiosyncratic and it is known as Matavuvale.
The most respectable Massai is considered due to his number of his children and cattle in his herd. This is also the basic source of their economy. They have the strong beliefs that God blessed them with all the cattle in the world and to rob the cattle from the other tribes is their invulnerable right. There is no typical burial tradition of a dead Massai and they keep the dead body open for vultures in an open space after covering it with the fat and blood of a slaughtered bull.
Another distinctive feature of Massai people is their music and traditional jumping dances. The whole show is displayed by vocalists singing together but the main melodies are sung by a song leader. The lyrics of such song carry typical theme and they also move their necks while singing and it is having a huge polyphonic impression.
The Massai also have the custom of modifying their bodies. Specially the piercing of earlobes is very common among them. To do this they use different tools including thorns for piercing, twigs, bundles of twigs, stones, the cross section of elephant tusks and empty film canisters. The Massai women use chaplets and beaded necklaces in their pierced ears. The head shaving of Massai is also an inherent practice before entering into a marital relationship. Apart from warrior community of Massai who keep longer hair for their recognition the normal Massai keep very short hair.