By Paul Spencer
Uncertainty is a daily element of lifestyles for the Maasai of East Africa. They take ritual precautions opposed to mystical misfortune of their small and dispersed villages, and position neighborhood existence within the fingers of elders whose collective knowledge is underpinned via a trust in an ethical, splendid and unknowably provident god. This balance is, despite the fact that, edged with predicament for mystery malcontents who may search to create havoc via sorcery and whose elusive magic lies outdoor the elders' energy. Time, house and the Unknown follows on from The Maasai of Matapato and The Samburu to teach how uncertainty and misfortune impression the social lifetime of the Maasai.
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Uncertainty is a daily point of lifestyles for the Maasai of East Africa. They take ritual precautions opposed to mystical misfortune of their small and dispersed villages, and position group existence within the arms of elders whose collective knowledge is underpinned by means of a trust in an ethical, ultimate and unknowably provident god.
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Additional resources for Time, Space and the Unknown: Maasai Configurations of Power and Providence
Given the shifting rivalries as young men mature and mature men grow old, any accommodation between adjacent age-sets can only be temporary and may be challenged at the next public occasion. Homo Ascendens and Homo Hierarchicus Clearly, inequalities of age contradict the widespread assumption that pastoralist societies are essentially egalitarian. This contrasts in a number of ways with forms of stratification 29 THE BOUNDARIES OF TIME, SPACE, AND CERTAINTY based on descent. The model of an age grade ladder may be elaborated to illustrate some of these more fundamental principles that extend beyond a system based solely on age.
Older men control the marriage market, while moran are allowed to ‘play’ with young unmarried girls of their own clan. However, because these clans are exogamous, moran cannot marry their girlfriends, and the elders can snatch them away to be married elsewhere at their whim. Meanwhile, the moran covertly defy the elders by filching stock and also young wives in adultery; and they engage in a form of gang warfare between clans – frisking among themselves. The analogy with the habits of gazelle could be extended to the herds of Samburu cattle, and especially to the periodic change-over when a younger and stronger rival outfights the reigning bull and wrests control over the females.
Paradoxically, each ritual event in the age cycle is stage-managed by firestick patrons, but it also marks a step towards their political demise. Minor confusions that are characteristic of any ritual occasion may be depicted as signs of their growing incompetence, discrediting them, undermining their confidence, and edging them towards a premature retirement. Given the shifting rivalries as young men mature and mature men grow old, any accommodation between adjacent age-sets can only be temporary and may be challenged at the next public occasion.
Time, Space and the Unknown: Maasai Configurations of Power and Providence by Paul Spencer