Zawadi Jakobo is one of the watchmen here atTICC – Tanga International Competence Centre. As the other Maasai watchmen here he comes from the village of Nanyogie. In parallell to his job here he has also studied to be a tour guide. I asked him to write a story, and he chose to write the story of how he became a warrior.
When I became a warrior, I was 18 years old, at the age when a Maasai normally become warrior and get circumcision. During the ritual of initiation there are things that we must undergo, according to the Maasai rules. We have month to announce that there are boys who are going to become warriors the next month. This is announced for warriors, elders and young women to know what is going to happen. So they have to join that celebration.
And after the month of announcement, there would be four days for celebrating and those four days each day has its rules.
The first day
Some warriors and girls are chosen by the elders to go to the forest to find long special straight sticks to bring home in order to put outside the houses of the mothers whose boys are going to be circumcised, and by every door of the houses two stick to be put to besides it, outside of the doors. After finishing putting sticks to each house the young women should come to dance and sing very loudly. The dance is done outside of the door of every house. The real main meaning to put these long special sticks outside the doors is to be signs showing that these are houses where the boys are located. Because of this, the houses will be free from disturbance.
That is what is done on the first day of the four days
The second day
This day has its rules as well and now every boy of those becoming a warrior will have a calf slaughtered for him for the case of eating much meat for those who come to celebrate. The calf is slaughtered by women, not men. A Maasai warrior does not eat meat of any animal killed by a woman. Those who are already warriors helps in roasting the meat but is not allowed to eat it. If a warrior won’t come to help in roasting the meat, he will be punished by the elders.
After the meal is finished, the dance starts at 3PM up to 6PM. After finishing the dancing everyone should go back to their homes until the day after when they meeting again for the tasks of the third day. The name of the second day is called “Loondomon” which means “a day of slaughtering calves”
That is the end of the second day activities
The third day
In the third day, there are some rules as well, similar to the second day but with a little difference. In the third day no calves are slaughtered. Instead sheep are to be slaughtered that day. These sheep will be slaughtered inside the houses of the mothers of those boys that are to become warriors.This day the boys have to go out of the Boma to learn how to properly shoot with bow and arrow, and to aim at things which are as far away as possible. Late this afternoon all boys will be shaved and given black clothes to put on, with shoes made of cow skin. The shaved head, the black clothes and the cow skin shoes makes these boys easy to recognize, and for all to know that they are not yet warriors but will become so in the next day.
This is the end of the third day which Maasai call “Engolong orkitupukeneta” which means “A day to slaughter sheep”
The fourth day
This is the last day to celebrate and the day of circumcision. We wake up early, around 5 in the morning to get a shower from very cold water prepared for us, then after the shower we stand out to get some wind to cool our bodies and to wait for the time of circumscision which normally is done by 7:30. The cirumcision is performed in the middle of the cows palce, sometimes outside the entrance, in the right side.
The place for circumcision is built by warriors and elders by putting cow skin on the ground and shade it with some branches. After the circumcision the new warrior is supposed to not to drink water or take a shower for the next three months. Instead they use an oil bath to keep clean and to drink oil instead of water. This oil is produced for animal fat from goat, sheep and cows. Another thing is that the new warriors are now commanded not to eat anything else than a mixture of milk and blood, and also meat.
On the day of circumcision there is a great celebration. The warriors now apply a certain white color on their faces and putting ostrich plumes to their heads. This makes the warrior look really different from all other people. When the boys walk, with their painted faces and the plumes, they raise the plumes and looks almost like an American Indian head dress.
This is the end of the maasai story of becoming a warrior.