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Cultural Challenges for the Massai


The Massai culture and traditions were able to be held up throughout the centuries  until our modern age. In the most recent past the Massai have been faced with enormous challenges. The surrounding environment is in the process of change as well as the habitation of the Massai. Will they be able to maintain their culture in spite of these problems?

The first of these challenges facing the Massai is the changing environment.  The deforestation of the land has resulted in the increased erosion of the soil and the spreading of the desert. This process has also led to a decrease in the Massai grazing lands.  The changes in climate have brought about a lengthened dry period between the rainy seasons.  The Massai are also being confronted with increasing political pressure. Many communities want to see an agricultural use of the traditional grasslands. Because the Massai refuse to practice farming, the grasslands are being handed over to other tribes to be used for agricultural purposes. The Massai are faced with the choice to change their means of existence and use their habitation in other ways, or to be forced to live in less fruitful regions.
The network of highways in and around the grasslands is being expanded. Because of this development, the isolated way of life that the Massai have led is coming to an end.  Another problem in conjunction with this is the fact that the Massai do not have any land rights. Even though they are known as the “Kings of the Savanna”, it never occurred to this nomadic people to acquire property rights. As a result it is easy to drive them off the land, since it doesn’t belong to them, and because of a lack of education, the Massai are not able to fight for their rights.

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