Maasai Culture V. American Culture

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English 101-McElroy
Compare and Contrast- Rough Draft
March 22, 2011

Maasai Culture v. American Culture

In the tribal villages of eastern Africa the Maasai marriages are arranged by the elders without ever first consulting the bride or the mother of the bride to be. Unlike, that of my own culture in the United States of America, where I am free as a citizen to choose whomever I may choose to marry and when and if I may marry. Polygyny is that of which is practiced in the Maasai culture, as an ideal that is achieved only by that of the elder men of the tribe. Unfortunately, as a result ofthemen being much older at the time of marriage, most women become widows, knowing that it is understood that they should never remarry again. Although, I myself practice monogamy, as it is tradition in my culture and that of what is expected by me, my community, and my family. A young girl's childhood in Maasai culture is dominated by a strict avoidance of her father and other elders. Her marriage prospects and her family's reputation hinges on her ability to develop an accurate sense of respect in her community. She is socialized from birth to accept her service to her future husband as an elder and to all other elders in the community.The father is the key figure in the patriarchal family. Theoretically, his control is absolute only to the interference by close senior elders. It is tradition in Maasai culture that as long as the father is alive, no son has final control over his cattle or over his choice in marriage. It is practiced that as the younger men of the community age, the older men begin to rely on their sons to take over the management of the family. After a husband's death, the widow is then subordinate to her sons in the management of her herd. If she has no sons; she is unprotected. As this idea is not practiced in my own community, where typicallythe roles of the head of house hold is shared among husband and wife equally. Inheritance of property and land is dispersed thru the doctrine of a will written out before death or handled in the courts of law. Although, respect is greatly admired and sought out upon in my community, it does not determine the stance of potential marriages and families in the community. A young girls childhood is shared by the love and affection of a girl’s father and elders, not that of fear and solitude. Love, high morals, and affection is that of which typical childhoods are instilled with upon their growing up in my society.

Similar to that of my own culture, the marriage ceremonyis one of the longest and most celebrated ceremonies in the Maasai community. It begins by a man showing interest in a woman and giving her a chain, called an olpisiai, similar in retrospect as that of an engagement ring in American society. Likewise, as the word of this proposal circulates the family as well as the community waits for the initial proceedings to begin. The Maasai man does this by finding women of his own age who will bring a gift of alcohol to the mother of the girl. This first stage called esirit enkoshoke indicates to everyone that the girl is now engaged. After some odd time, the man has to make his intentions clear again once more. By presenting a gift of alcohol to the girl's father, the man has shown this once again, as the alcohol will be brought by the same women who brought the other gift of alcohol to the women earlier. The gift of alcohol is called enkiroret, which the father of the intended bride drinks with his brothers and then summons the man asking him to declare his initial interest and to speak of the woman he wishes to marry. If the family agrees to the man's request, both parties officially establish a relationship, and the wedding planning begins to take foot. In the Maasai community and as in mine, marriage is considered very important. However, when two people are brought together to become a husband and wife in the Maasai community, the newlyweds are expected to live...
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