Masai community has been living in the northern parts of Tanzania and the semiarid part of Kenya where they have retained strongly their cultural identity through out the modernization era. Due to their geographical areas of occurrence being characterized by harsh weather conditions they have adapted to nomadic form of livelihood where they keep shifting from one area to another in search of green pastures and water for their animals and themselves too. However, western cultures have greatly tried to influence the culture of the Masai for a long period with no great success.
Through education, agriculture, medicine and social relationship among them, interference in their culture has intensified with majority of the international western communities referring to them as being backward and primitive. This is however very wrong as the community is greatly satisfied and their social fibers are even stronger compared to other communities in the western world. Many of their ideologies are rich and integrated values comprise their identity upon which they derive pleasure and harmonious livelihood (Stephen, 12).
This essay explores the community from the perspective of their economic patterns and analyses the cost and benefits of shifting from their cultural patterns. Besides, the intervention of the western developed countries to economically and socially change the Masai culture is discussed in details with an orientation of deriving major conclusion and recommendations towards the stabilizing of the community. Masai community predominantly depends on livestock for their livelihood where they keep cows, goats, donkeys and camels.
Through out the history of the Masai, they have been rearing livestock in a nomadic mode where they move from one region to another in search for greener pastures and water. With their geographical area being unsuitable for conventional agriculture due to the aridity of the land, their land is not subdivided and they roam freely through out the wilderness unrestricted even by the national boundaries of Kenya and Tanzania. As a result of their main occupation, they also derive their staple food from the animals.
To add to that, they are engaged in trade with their neighbors and traders who come to the region from the main cities to get animals for meat. Trade therefore involves transaction between livestock and food products or money with the Masai people. To add to that, the Masai have recently developed a culture of tourism where they trade in different items that are made out of beads and skin to the tourists who frequent the Masai Mara national reserve. Though this is not a major economic activity, it is slowly developing to be assimilated by majority of the Masai in the entire region.
Crafting majority of the beads from the region stones and animal bones, they prepare to sell the craft works to the tourists who pass by for their holiday in Masai Mara. They dance in style to please the tourists who then buy their beads or bead made necklaces and bangles (Robert, 6). As pointed out earlier, the Masai community has maintained their culture strongly amidst the international pressure to shift to other forms of life. Shift in their culture as Mr. Johnson suggests will lead to loss of identity by the community as it assimilates new cultural affiliations.
All aspects of life in the Masai land are associated to their cultural existence and is strongly adhered to. Their cultural attire consisting of pants, cotton shirts and the red fabric won by the men reflect not only their suitability for the harsh condition but also their affiliation to religion. While shifting to crop farming might be hard due to the harsh environmental conditions, their economic dependence on the cows would be totally lost. The region would require huge quantities of water which would make it less suitable to produce products for sale.
Besides, shift would make the Masai people have problems in assessing their overall wealth which is assessed in terms of cows held by the people in the Masai community. Marriage and social relationship would also be broken down as it is also valued in terms of the number of animals that one paid to get a wife. Their language would also be lost as they assume the English used and emphasized by Mr. Johnson. Therefore, change in their culture would serve to kill the community as it defines their daily social, economic and relationship with other neighboring communities.
However, a shift in their culture would increase their access to the external world thereby opening the region for more development. With the technology being considered to belong to the west (US), the community would improve its livelihood greatly by adopting new living mechanisms. As taught in class basic medicine and rangeland management as well as irrigation would increase their life forms from the traditional setting to the modern settled one. Their perception would also change where the girl children education would be valued more than just a consideration of waste of resources by the parents.
As the Masai culture face the great threat of losing their culture in the country, the government of Tanzania should establish better rules and legislations that will ensure that the culture is fully respected at all the times. As a sovereign state with the overall mandate of protecting the cultures of its people, it should pass the necessary regulations that would help in retaining the Masai culture and all the other indigenous cultures as a sign of pride. Besides, the country should secure the Masai land from invasion and subdivision for their overall culture to be maintained.
To add to that, it should encourage more education to the local Masai and seek the use of local languages in the advanced learning systems. The author’s donation of money to Johnson is unethical as it encourages him to continue disregarding the Masai culture in their own land. Johnson did not allow the students to speak their language when they were in school. He did not allow them to wear their Masai attire and also denied them from going to their community to meet other people.
Besides, teaching the students that the Masai culture was inferior, he would contribute greatly to the overall loss of their identity and assimilation of the western culture. US government should not actively intervene either politically or economically to force other groups change from their culture. It should ensure that other communities are free of interference to independently develop to their cultures. Since people have different ways of approaching issues of culture, the American style do not fit in all the situations as evaluation of development it totally different.
The Masai people in Kenya and Tanzania consider development as being well rooted in their culture from where they derive their overall pride. Where as Americans assess the overall wealth in terms of monetary terms and capital trade monopolization, other communities assess their wealth in terms of available tracks of land, animals or daughters to be given in exchange for cattle (Stephen, 12). Besides, traditional cultures have been considered as the main source of solace either in love, traditional medicine as well as overall belief in religion.
Masai believe that God protected them from harm by wild animals a view that has worked for them as they interact harmlessly with the dangerous large cats during their grazing. As a result, America should consider supporting the overall development of the culture with independent articulation of the important cohesive aspects to it. It can assist in developing the regional infrastructure that can assist in easing the trade and movement between the Masai and the neighboring communities.
Conclusion. Communities’ cultures should not be influenced or forced to shift as they are rich and outline the community identity. Culture determines the community’s relation within it’s groupings and also with the neighboring communities that associate with the community. As observed in the Masai community, all their definitions are derived from their cultural orientation which assists them to solve all the problems they encounter in their day to day lives.
Strong states economically and politically should avoid using their might to coerce the traditional cultures as they have great lessons they can learn from them and their consideration of growth and development is totally different. Work cited page Robert, Biswas-Diener, “Be beautiful and carry a big stick: Physical attractiveness and the Masai aesthetic” Clamor July, 2002. Stephen, McCrummen, “Our history will die” Washington post foreign service, 18th June, 2007
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