Maasai Beliefs and Legends

Discover the traditional folklore, beliefs, and legends of the Maasai people

By National Museums of Kenya

Maasai beliefs

The Maasai community of Kenya traditionally believed in God (referred to as Enkai), and that God created the earth with three groups of people...

Maasai MoransNational Museums of Kenya

1. The Torrobo

The Torrobo were hunters and depended on honey and wild animals.

SpearNational Museums of Kenya

2. The Kikuyus

The Kikuyus were farmers and depended on agriculture.

Digging knifeNational Museums of Kenya

3. The Maasai

The Maasai depended on cattle for food, clothing and shelter.

Cow BellNational Museums of Kenya

It is said that the Maasai originated to earth by sliding down from a rope linked to heaven. 

The Maasai Hunters by Zachariah MbuthaNational Museums of Kenya

Legends of the Maasai

Other known legends and folklore tales include the story of Olenana, who deceived his father to obtain the blessing reserved for his older brother Senteu.

Senteu, The Great Warrior (Maasai community) by Tatu CreativesNational Museums of Kenya

Spiritual leaders

Spiritual leaders, known as Oloiboni or Loibon, were common in each Maasai family. Oloiboni had mystical as well as medicinal healing powers. They predicted the future and healed people from physical, mental and spiritual illnesses.

Medicinal toolNational Museums of Kenya

They were in charge of the rituals, led the community in sacrifices, officiated ceremonies, and advised elders on spiritual aspects. They were also prophets, shamans and seers. Pictured here is a horn with a leather lid. It was used by a Loibon to store medicine.    

Medicine HornNational Museums of Kenya

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