African Pastoralists


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Compares the Turkana and Masai of Kenya.

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African Pastoralists

  1. 1. African Pastoralists Masai and Turkana
  2. 2. East Africa Pastoralists <ul><li>East Africa are predominantly herdsmen </li></ul><ul><li>They include Masai and Turkana (covered here) </li></ul><ul><li>They also include Tiriki, Afar, Jie, Kikuyu, and numerous others </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle are their animals—and source of wealth </li></ul><ul><li>They are patrilineal and patriarchal </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare is widespread, consisting mostly of cattle theft and defense of herds </li></ul>
  3. 3. Turkana: Subsistence Base <ul><li>Turkana live in variable, mostly arid environments </li></ul><ul><li>They herd a variety of animals: cattle, camels, goats, sheep, and donkeys </li></ul><ul><li>Camels and goats are valued for their ability to go without water for days </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle (including the humped zebu) are herded in the most watered valleys </li></ul><ul><li>Herds are divided opportunistically, according to changing climate conditions. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Turkana: Social Organization I <ul><li>Organized into extended families of a man, his wives, and children </li></ul><ul><li>Reckoning is by patrilineal descent. </li></ul><ul><li>However, they also have extensive social networks: </li></ul><ul><li>Through affines (kin by marriage) </li></ul><ul><li>Through close relatives </li></ul><ul><li>Through friendship ties via exchanges </li></ul>
  5. 5. Turkana: Social Organization II <ul><li>Nevertheless, they do not perceive themselves as a tribe beyond the household </li></ul><ul><li>Male kin are reckoned, but they do not form organized lineages or clans </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike many East African tribe, there is no age set or age grade </li></ul><ul><li>They are individualistic, forming larger temporary groups as necessity dictates </li></ul>
  6. 6. Turkana: Basic Cultural Pattern <ul><li>Turkana are faced with changing environmental conditions </li></ul><ul><li>How and where they herd their animals vary with these conditions </li></ul><ul><li>They may separate their herds: camels to dry areas, cattle to better watered areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Their networks—kin and friendship—provided social flexibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Read “Case 8: The Case of Kenya” for more details </li></ul>
  7. 7. Masai: Subsistence Base <ul><li>Unlike the Turkana, Masai are mostly cattle herders </li></ul><ul><li>Their environment is somewhat more moist, but drought does occur </li></ul><ul><li>Their herding is transhumant rather then opportunistic, unlike the Turkana </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle is exploited for milk and blood, hides, horns, and meat on occasion </li></ul><ul><li>Cattle are more useful as food when alive than when slaughtered </li></ul>
  8. 8. Masai: Social Organization <ul><li>They are organized into polygynous, extended family households </li></ul><ul><li>There is a strong patriarchy of the household. </li></ul><ul><li>Laibon (chiefs) dominate the Masai, and wealth is unevenly distributed </li></ul>
  9. 9. Age Grades and Age Sets <ul><li>At age 12 and up, boys become moran or warriors </li></ul><ul><li>After initiation, that includes circumcision </li></ul><ul><li>At age 25 or so, they become Junior Elders: </li></ul><ul><li>Eligible to marry, form households, and obtain cattle. </li></ul><ul><li>Later in life, they become Senior Elders, with greater governing and judicial responsibilities </li></ul>
  10. 10. Masai Gender Relations <ul><li>As you will see in Masai Women , women are among the most marginal in the world </li></ul><ul><li>They endure clitoridectomy, presented in this film in a sanitized version as “circumcision” </li></ul><ul><li>They do not own cattle and their property is limited to milking gourds and personal items </li></ul><ul><li>If they do not bear sons, their life will be one of enduring poverty. </li></ul><ul><li>Masai Women provides these and other details </li></ul>
  11. 11. Masai Women <ul><li>Note the following about Masai Women : </li></ul><ul><li>Observe indications of women’s low status </li></ul><ul><li>What happens if they don’t bear children? </li></ul><ul><li>What about lovers, especially warriors? </li></ul><ul><li>What property do they have? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Warriorhood among the Masai <ul><li>Rain Warriors provides a fictional study of several Masai themes </li></ul><ul><li>The fear of drought </li></ul><ul><li>The magical powers of animals, especially of the lion Wachuva </li></ul><ul><li>The teamwork of teenaged warriors, who presumably belong to the same age set </li></ul><ul><li>Beliefs that the same lion is withholding the rain </li></ul>
  13. 13. Rain Warriors <ul><li>Observe the following: </li></ul><ul><li>What was unusual about sending experience teen warriors on the quest? </li></ul><ul><li>Why was this seen to be necessary? </li></ul><ul><li>Why was the father reluctant to allow Morono to go on the hunt? </li></ul><ul><li>What does herding goats have to say about one’s socioeconomic status? </li></ul>
  14. 14. African Pastoralists: Conclusion <ul><li>Largely tribal, though incipient chiefdom is evident among Masai </li></ul><ul><li>All rely on cattle, though other animals (goats, even camels) may be present </li></ul><ul><li>Women are second-class citizens—if citizens at all instead of property </li></ul><ul><li>Barrenness is a serious problem—women always pray for sons </li></ul>