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The Maasai Wedding

Photographer: Dai Kurokawa

 

On 20 August 2011, twenty five-year-old chief councilor of the Kaputei Maasai community's Il Kibulu age group Lesian Ole Lasiti Maante married eighteen-year-old Nelly Nkurunka to enter the elderhood and start the family and build the wealth in form of cattle and children, in Mashuuru District, some 150km south of the capital of Nairobi, Kenya.

 

The elderhood marks a period of great responsibility, particularly for Lasiti Maante who already leads more than 10,000 young Maasai warriors in the area as their chief councilor or 'Olaiguenani lenkashe'.

 

Although the traditional Maasai wedding ceremonies involve more elaborate processes with rituals and courtesies, the modern day Maasai are opting for simpler and more contemporary ceremony styles, partly incorporating elements of Christian weddings such as the presence of bridal ministers.

 

The Maasai, numbering some 380,000 mostly in western and southern Kenya, have been for years faced with disappearing pastures and the pressure from increasingly affluent modern societies to give up their nomadic, polygamous lifestyle. The impact of the modern world on the Maasai culture is apparent - from the use of mobile phones to wearing of suits and ties. But the effort and desire to maintain their heritage in times of modernization and globalization is just as apparent. While many Maasai youth are enrolled in colleges and universities in large cities, most of them say they plan to return to their home villages to serve their communities after graduation, just as Tepilit Ole Saitoti, a renowned Maasai author and professor, has said in his 1980 book 'Maasai', 'after deep reflection on my people and culture, I have painfully come to accept that the Maasai must change to protect themselves, if not their culture. They must adapt to the realities od the modern world and become part of it for the sake of their own survival'.