Warriors at War

For some days now the two youngest Maasai age groups have been at war, not with a threat from the outside, but with each other. This happened periodically,warriors3 whenever the newest youngest age group begins to be strong in numbers and begin to want to take over the prerogatives of the older “ruling” warriors. The warriors are called upon when there is any kind of threat in Maasai country. One example of this is the periodic forays by the Sukuma from Western side of the Serengeti to rustle Maasai cattle. It is the “Ilkorianga”, the older age group that go to meet the challenge and fight off the invaders. It is the “Ilkorianga” also that dance with the girls at any celebration. If a member of the new age group, the “Inyangulo” dare to organize a band of warriors to ward off cattle rustlers or worse yet, to dance with the girls at a feast, he is soundly beaten and chased away. Another part of becoming “ruling warriors” is the permission for the age group to grow the long pig tail of a warrior and to carry the distinctive heavy spear with the length of black dowel holding together the two parts of the spear. All this is forbidden to the younger age group. They must slowly acquire all these prerogatives by force.

warriors1A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that a young olnyangulo threw his spear at a olkorianga slicing him in the stomach. We heard that he was taken to the hospital and, although not badly injured, he did need some stitches. This event prompted an all out war, very one sided, between the two age groups. The war mainly consisted in the Ilkorianga chasing and beating any member of the new age group brave enough to show his face in public. The young boys of the “Inyangulo” quickly got the message and most hid themselves whenever there was a “Olkorianga” in the vicinity.

The strange part of this story is that the indicial attack by a new warrior with his spear was a farce perpetrated by the older warriors. It turns out that the older fellow that was cut in the stomach had cut himself on purpose and accused the younger warriors of attacking him. This was all in view of manufacturing an excuse to start a “war” giving the older warriors and excuse to beat the younger ones.

The “Ilkorianga” don’t want to retire and give up all their warrior privileges and power. They seem intent on holding on to their status as long as they can by any means, fair or foul.

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