Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post provides some information about Maasai people and culture and showcases five YouTube videos of Maasai Gospel songs composed and performed by
Selected comments from two of these videos' discussion threads are also included in this post.
The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Stephen Leken for his musical legacy and thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT MAASAI PEOPLE, CULTURE, AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
"The Maasai tribe is the most authentic ethnic tribe of Kenya.
The Maasai tribe (or Masai) is a unique and popular tribe due to their long preserved culture. Despite education, civilization and western cultural influences, the Maasai people have clung to their traditional way of life, making them a symbol of Kenyan culture.
Maasai's distinctive culture, dress style and strategic territory along the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania have made them one of East Africa's most internationally famous tourist attractions. Maasai men
The Maasai people reside in both Kenya and Tanzania, living along the border of the two countries. They are a smaller tribe, accounting for only about 0.7 percent of Kenya's population, with a similar number living in Tanzania. Maasais speak Maa, a Nilotic ethnic language from their origin in the Nile region of North Africa.
The Samburu tribe is the closest to the Maasai in both language and cultural authenticity."...
..."The monotheistic Maasai worship a single deity called Enkai or Engai. Engai has a dual nature: Engai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Engai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. There are also two pillars or totems of Maasai society: Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of five clans or family trees. ...The central human figure in the Maasai religious system is the laibon whose roles include shamanistic healing, divination and prophecy, and ensuring success in war or adequate rainfall. Today, they have a political role as well due to the elevation of leaders. Whatever power an individual laibon had was a function of personality rather than position. Many Maasai have also adopted Christianity and Islam."...
From http://www.bluegecko.org/kenya/tribes/maasai/beliefs.htm Maasai - Religion and Beliefs
"Ngai - God
Also spelled 'Ngai, En-kai, Enkai, Engai, Eng-ai
The Maasai believe in one God, whom they call Ngai. Ngai is neither male nor female, but seems to have several different aspects. For instance, there is the saying Naamoni aiyai, which means "The She to whom I pray". There are two main manifestations of Ngai: Ngai Narok which is good and benevolent and is black; and Ngai Na-nyokie, which is angry and red, like the British.
At birth, Ngai gives each man a guardian spirit to ward off danger and carry him away at the moment of death. The evil are carried off to a desert, while the good unsurprisingly go to a land of rich pastures and many cattle.
Laiboni - diviners, ritual experts and medicine men
Also spelled loiboni, oloiboni, olaiboni; singular: laibon, loibon, olaibon, etc.
The Laiboni are the ritual and spiritual leaders of Maasai society, whose authority is based on their mystical as well as medicinal/healing powers. They are aided in their tasks by age-group leaders called olaiguenani, who are chosen before circumcision to lead their age-group until old age.
There is usually only one Laibon per clan. Their role is multiple: to officiate and direct ceremonies and sacrifices, to heal people of both physical and/or mental or spiritual ailments, and to provide advice to elders on the spiritual aspects of community matters. They are also prophets, shamans and seers, and are the ones -with help from the elders - who name the successive age-sets, and open and close the various ceremonies of age-set transitions. The post of Laibon is confined to only one family in the Nkidong'i location and is inherited.
They have no political power, although the British installed a number of them as quasi-paramount chiefs during the colonial period, whose rivalries ensured that the British would always remain in control. A Laibon also command a lot of power depending on his personality and, of course, efficacy. This was the case with Mbatiany (Batian, whom Mount Kenya's highest peak is named after), who managed to command many Maasai sections at the time of the British colonisation.
The main function of the Laiboni, like those of sacrifices, is essentially to bridge the gap between man and God (or "the other world"), though a Laibon's influence is generally limited to 'reading' the mind or the intentions of God through divination, for example by reading stones thrown from a cow's horn. The Laiboni in this capacity are especially consulted whenever misfortune arises, be it the failure of rains, disease epidemics or military losses.
They are also healers, deeply experienced in the medicinal properties of the plants which grow in their environment, and whose leaves, roots or bark can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments (the word for tree, olchani, plural ilkeek, is the same as the word for medicine). According to popular myth, it was the folk of the forest who taught the Maasai the medicinal uses of various plants - whose descendants might well be the Ndorobo and other surviving groups of hunter-gatherers today.
The conditions treated in this way range from headaches, stomach worms and other stomach ailments, to colds, venereal diseases, barrenness, chest complaints, malaria, cuts and bruises, eye diseases, and many other conditions. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that long before western medicine was introduced, the Maasai used to inoculate people against the deadly small-pox virus (entidiyai) by making scratches in the person's forearm in which a small amount of pus from a dying patient was smeared.
Even today, the role of the laiboni is still very important, being so deeply entrenched in the social life of the people to the extent that physical ailments that cannot be treated by a traditional physician are taken to the diviner. As a people known for not having forgotten the past, the Maasai Laiboni have in recent years also earned a reputation as being the best healers in Tanzania, dispensing herbal remedies to treat physical ailments, and ritual treatments to absolve social and moral transgressions. So-called Laiboni can also be found peddling their knowledge and herbs in towns and cities throughout Kenya, admittedly alongside very many imposters - it's a lucrative business, especially in the AIDS era.
Example #1: ENKITING'OTO INO [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Skiza code 7199716.
Stephen Leken, Published on Jul 26, 2016
Ore enkiting'oto ino, naa ninye enkiterunoto enkai.This is a Maasai phrase that means ( your end is God's beginning.) This song is from the book of 1 kings 17:1,24. May the Lord God bless you as you watch.
Example #2: ENKUENIA [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Skiza codes 7199717.
Stephen Leken, Published on Jul 17, 2016
Enkunia is a Maasai word meaning(Laughter). This is a Maasai gospel song composed and written by Stephen Leken.and it's from the book of Esther 6:1, 14. 7:1, 10. May God bless you as you watch.
Example #3: ENKAI KAANYORR [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Skiza codes 7199718.
Stephen Leken, Published on Jul 26, 2016
Enkai Kaanyorr is a Maasai phrase meaning (I love you God). May you be blessed as you watch.
Example #4: SHILISHIL [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Skiza codes 7199719
Stephen Leken, Published on Jul 18, 2016
Meeta Enkai shilishil. It's a Maasai phrase that means, (God does not entice). This is a Maasai gospel song composed, written and sung by Stephen Leken. The song is from the book of numbers 13:1-33 and 14:1-10. Moses send 12 men to explore the land of Canaan, the land that God promised to give to Israelite. This song tells us how faithful God is. God does not promise you something and He can't give it to you, or show you what He wanted to give you then refuses it again. He is always faithful. As you watch this video, I want you to thank the Lord telling Him, Ashe Enkai amuu miata shilishil, nimitum.(thank you God because you cannot show me something good and refuses it.) May God bless you as you watch.
Here are selected comments from this video's discussion thread. These comments are numbered for referencing purposes only:
1. Van Asae
"kali sana my fav maa artiste of all tym. big up bro"
2. Kimeto Lilian
"ashe oleng.i have got maa blood.i hear this I cry.its the language of my people.great song."
3. Carolina Jane
"Kimeto Lilian plz translate for me"
4. paul sankaire
"Caroline Jane in a nutshell its saying God will bless you as He doesn't discriminate"
5. Vero Tutayo
"Proud to be a maasai ,good job"
6. stanley matias
"Can someone please translate it for all of us who literally love the song without a clue what's being sung 🙄
His gestures though 👍👊"
7. Stephen Leken
"stanley matias thank you. It means God Will never show or promise you something good and when you are about to take it He takes it back. He will always fulfill His promises."
8. john kavuu mwangangi
"the most nice songs ever in kenya's life'
9. Osotwa Isaya
Example #5: METUMI [OFFICIAL VIDEO]. Skiza codes 7199720.
Stephen Leken. Published on Jul 18, 2016
Metumi Enkai Nikinyanyukie is a Maasai phrase meaning (There is no God like you). This is a Maasai gospel song composed and written by Stephen Leken. May God bless you as you watch.
Here are two comments from this video's discussion thread.
1. petra09933 (2017)
"Super Stephen! Its a beautyfull song..Proud Maasai people dancing and singing..Bless you all"
2. vetech valuers (2017)
"Metumi Enkai! Glory to God! be blessed Leken."
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