Lenana: The Story of the Famous Maasai Oloiboni

By National Museums of Kenya

Lenana: The Wise One (Maasai community) (2019) by Shujaa StoriesNational Museums of Kenya

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
Lenana the famous Maasai Oloiboni (spiritual leader) was born in the 1870’s. It is said that his father, Mbatian was a descendant of the Inkindongi clan which is also known as the Oloiboni clan.

Mbatian: The Great Maasai Laibon (2019) by Shujaa StoriesNational Museums of Kenya

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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Lenana was born at Ngoshua, near Monduli at the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro. He was the only son of one of Mbatian’s 100 wives.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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Lenana was initiated into the Talala age group by circumcision rite, as is customary with Maasai tradition.

The Maasai believed that prophetic powers were hereditary among the Oloiboni clan and therefore Lenana and all his brothers apprenticed to become prophets.

Senteu: The Great Warrior (Maasai community) (2019) by Shujaa StoriesNational Museums of Kenya

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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He was at a disadvantage because his father preferred teaching his elder brother Senteu the duties of Oloiboni. However, Lenana upstaged his brother and quickly perfected his Oloiboni skills by watching his father work whenever opportunity presented itself.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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When Mbatian was about to die, he announced that whichever son he would call to his deathbed, would inherit his place as Oloiboni. By this time, Lenana had come of age. When he got word of Mbatian’s announcement, he devised a plan to take advantage of his father’s senility and partial blindness and inherit the position of Oloiboni.

Lenana: The Wise One (Maasai community) (2019) by Shujaa StoriesNational Museums of Kenya

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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In this way Lenana usurped his brother Senteu’s birthright. This created enmity between the two brothers, which was escalated by the onset of a drought and a breakout of plagues of livestock diseases. The frequent wars aimed at restocking livestock after the droughts and disease grew so serious that they spilled over into what is today known as Tanzania.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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In addition, the wars between the brothers and frequent attacks from the Agikuyu severely weakened Lenana’s stronghold. It is at this time that Lenana sought collaboration with the British.

Lenana saw the British as an ally who would help him track down and defeat his brother Senteu who was destabilizing the region by raiding and stealing cattle from other Maasai clans.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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In 1898, Lenana was appointed Paramount Chief by the British and was given resources to monitor and stop his brother Senteu. At the time, what is today known as Tanzania, was under German subjugation and the British were interested in avoiding a war between them and the Germans.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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In the years that followed, Lenana’s powers as a Paramount Chief drastically reduced, and The British appropriated his land and that of other Maasai clans through a series of bogus agreements.

Lenana: The Famous Maasai Oloiboni
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Lenana’s legacy lives on:
Lenana’s legacy lives on and one of the peaks of Mt. Kenya is named after him.

The Maasai community lifestyle is mainly pastoralist, which has been compatible with wildlife conservation. For example, traditionally the Maasai people did not eat wild animals even in times of extreme drought. Let’s recognize the traditional Maasai values of letting wildlife live!

Credits: Story

Credits: Story
Research field work was undertaken in Samburu and Marsabit (for Gabbra, Samburu, Rendille, Saakuye, Dasanach, Elmolo, Waayu a.k.a Waata, and Burji superheroes/heroines), Embu and Tharaka (for Aembu, Tharaka, Ameru and Mbeere superheroes/heroines), Mombasa ( for Boni, Swahili, Pokomo, Segeju and Bajuni superheroes/heroines)and Taita-Taveta/Voi (for Taveta superheroes/heroines) capturing all information about the heroes from the 40 selected ethnic groups/communities by Museum’s research team. The illustrations were done using digital media by Shujaa Stories Limited.


National Museums of Kenya - Contributors
Mzalendo Kibunjia (PhD) - Director General
Purity Kiura (PhD) - Director Antiquities, Sites & Monuments
Julias Juma Ogega - Senior Curator/Research Scientist
Njuguna Gichere - Research Scientist
Lydia Gatundu - Art of Curator
Emmanuel Kariuki - Exhibit Designer
Philemon Nyamanga - Curator/Research Scientist
Mercy Gakii - Curator/Research Scientist
Imelda Muoti - Curator/Archivist
Innocent Nyaga - Marketing Officer
Suzanne Wanjaria - Exhibits Designer
Ray Balongo Khaemba - Senior Collection Manager
Raphael Igombo - Education Officer
Eddy Ochieng – Photographer/Videographer


Concept Developer:
Shujaa Stories Ltd


Creative Direction:
Tatu Creatives Ltd
Shujaa Stories Ltd


Shujaa Stories Ltd – Contributors
Masidza Sande Galavu - Illustrator
Jeff Muchina- Editing
Martha Shavuya Galavu - Illustrator
Brian Kiraga – Research and Writing
Daisy Okoti - Editing
Shani Mutarura - Editing
Juelz Laval – Photography/Videographer
Linda Tambo - Photography


Other Contributors
Nature Kenya- The East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS)
Spellcast Media


Date Created:
2019/2020


Location Created:
Kenya

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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