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Title:The Maasai of Matapato: A Study of Rituals of Rebellion
Author:Spencer, PaulISNI
Series:International African library (ISSN 0951-1377)
City of publisher:Manchester; Bloomington, Indiana
Publisher:Manchester University Press; Indiana University Press
Geographic term:Kenya
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:This study relates the dynamics of the Maasai age organization to tensions within the family. Together, these provide the twin strands of a man's career, opposed ritually and reflecting a fundamental ambivalence in Maasai thought. The analysis is illustrated with extensive case material from the Matapato, selected as a typical Maasai group in Kenya, on the border with Tanzania. The development from boyhood under the dominance of the father to elderhood when a man marries is examined as a prolonged rite of transition. The 'moran' or warriors also stand as an emblem of ritualized rebellion against the principle of family independence among elders, which undermines the ideal of Maasai unity. The 'moran' cultivate a Platonic society of their own, opposed to the life style of the elders and yet laying the foundation on which they will settle down to elderhood. Their idiom of protest is echoed by the women when they in turn react against their exploitation in pursuit of fertility. Through ritual protest, it is the subordinate sectors of the society that are the ultimate custodians of Maasai ideals.