The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network

Oldonyo Murwak sacred hill at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, teases global Maasai cultural festival

The world has many sacred places, but none beats Oldonyo Murwak, the hill which holds the shrine for more than 3 million members of the Maasai communities spread across Kenya and Tanzania.

Located at the foot of Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Oldonyo Murwak sacred place, listed among potential UNESCO world heritage sites, will soon set stage for the first larger than life, Maasai Traditional Festival.

The decision to organize such an event was reached during the gathering of Maasai elders from pastoral communities representing the nine sects across Tanzania.

The representatives explained that it is high time a real traditional and cultural event gets organized in tribute to East Africa’s most famous people who believe to maintain their values.

“We have already established a national Maasai Council, which is fully registered and will be handling all matters concerning the community,” said Joseph Lebasirian Laizer, the Chairperson of the Maasai tradition elders (Laigwanan) council in the country.

Laigwanan Laizer points out that of late there have been many impostors who use the ‘Maasai,’ name to organize events, festivals, meetings and even issue statements against their tradition.

“After coming up with an official Maasai Council, we are now working to organize the first National Maasai Tradition Festival, which will showcase the real Maasai songs, dances, food, attires, food and medicine,” added Jeremia Laizer Sendui the Secretary General of Maasai Elders Council.

Both leaders stated that, when it comes to the Maasai, the community has nine recognized sects or divisions and these usually meet at an officially designated area according to their tradition.

The Oldonyo Murwak Hill, where the meeting was held is a site where the Maasai from both Kenya and Tanzania perform their ritual and coming of age ceremonies.

This apparently will be the same place that all the National Maasai Festivals are going to be held.

Oldonyo Murwak lies within the Sanya plains in the Hai District of Kilimanjaro and was proposed among the future World Heritage Sites for its religious and cultural values.

“We have our own meeting places, shrines and recognized leaders,” they stated, adding that their one and only shrine in East Africa is found on the Sanya plains.

They mentioned the nine Maasai sub-tribes or sects also known as ‘Iloshon,’ that are found in Tanzania including the Salei, L’arusa, Parakuiyot, Sirinket, Ilkisonko, Loita and Moivoi, among others.

They however described the L’arusa sect to be different from other Maasai groups because they have their own central place in the Mianzini location of Arusha.

There are more than 800,000 members of the Maasai community in Tanzania.

Across the border in Kenya, there are 2 million Maasai people, which means the total number of the semi-nomadic community in East Africa could reach 3 million.

The Maasai are divided into various ‘nations,’ which are the Keekonyokie, Ildamat, Purko, Wuasinkishu, Siria, Laitayiok, Loitai, Ilkisonko, Matapato, Dalalekutuk, Ilooldokilani, Ilkaputiei, Moitanik, Ilkirasha, Samburu, Ilchamus, Laikipiak, Loitokitoki, Larusa, Salei, Sirinket and Parakuyo.

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