The Maasai Legend of The Gift of Cattle

A popular folktale that tells how Maasai recieved cattle from God

The origin of cattles, Maasai folktale (2020) by Advithi EmmiProject FUEL

In the beginning the Maasai did not have any cattle. One day, Maasinta, the first Maasai, was called by God. The God said “I want you to make a large enclosure, and when you have done so, come back and inform me” Maasainta did as he was instructed and came back to reveal what he had done. God told him to go and stand outside the wall of the house for he would give him something called cattle. He asked him to be quiet and to not be surprised if he sees or hears anything.

The next morning when Maasinta was waiting, he heard the sounds of thunder and God released a long leather thong from heaven to Earth. Cattle descended down this thong into the enclosure. The surface of the Earth shook so vigorously that his house almost fell over. Maasinta was petrified but did not make a sound.

While the cattle were still descending, the Dorobo, house mate of Maasinta, woke up from his sleep. He went outside to see and was shocked to see the cattle coming down. Out of utter shock he said, “Ayieyieyie!”.

The God took back the cattle on hearing the sound as he thought Maasinta was the one who made that sound: “Is it that these cattle are enough for you? I will never do this again to you, so you better love these cattle in the same way I love you”. This is the reason the Maasai are so fond of cattle.

Maasinta was very upset with the Dorobo for having cut the God’s thing and cursed him and said, “May the milk of my cattle be poison if you taste it”. This is the reason why the Dorobo still live in the forest and are not given any milk.

Credits: Story

Project FUEL would like to thank the Maasai community in the Losimingori village of Arusha, Tanzania for opening their hearts and home to this research. 

This exhibit is part of the Wise Wall Project, an initiative of Project FUEL, to document, design, and strengthen the wisdom of rural communities and marginalized villages using art and community outreach programs. In the third edition of this project, we collaborated with the Maasai, in Arusha, Tanzania, to build an on-ground community centre for the people and bring an exclusive insight into the life, lifestyle, and learnings of this inspiring community.

Illustration: Advithi Emmi
Cultural Consultant: Jens Finke
Research, Interviews and Curation: Project FUEL
Project Partners: Vijana Inspiring Foundation, Vikram Solar Ltd., Lions Club of Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Google Arts & Culture

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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