The Masaai Home

The Masaai live in makeshift structures known as manyattas. The manyatta consists of several enkajis or huts surrounded by a secure wall. The shelters were made to be very temporal as they were nomadic pastoralists. The enkaji was made from readily available materials. These were the tree branches, cow dung and soil. The cow dung was for water proofing and it would be plastered all over the walls. Timber poles would be fixed into the ground and smaller branches would be interwoven around them. Then the walls would be plastered with a mix of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and human urine, and ash.

The women were the ones charged with the duty of making these huts and maintaining them. Any repairs were done also by the women. Able bodied women from the village would help one another in the building process. The hut is where the family cooks, eats, sleeps, socializes and stores food, fuel and other household possessions. Goats and calves also spent the night in the enkaji.

The women would prepare meals for the entire family. This consisted of milk, meat and cow’s blood. Today, cow’s blood is rarely taken. The meals now consist of milk, meat, uji and ugali. Uji is made from a mixture of milk and maize flour. It is a liquid while ugali is a solid mixture of water and the maize flour. The girls would help their mothers in cooking, cleaning and milking the cows. They would learn the chores from a very early age.

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