The socio-political and economic organization of the Maasai during the pre-colonial period


  • They were divided into two groups, i.e. the Pastoral Purko Maasai and the agricultural Kwavi Maasai.
  • They were divided into five clans.

  • They circumcised both boys and girls at puberty, upon which the initiates entered an ageset.
  • he initiated young men joined the warrior class: the Moran. The Moran lived in special Manyattas and were not allowed to marry until they became junior elders.
  • They had diviners and medicine people.
  • By the 19th century, the Purko Maasai had created the office of the Oloibon (ritual leader), who officiated at religious ceremonies.
  • They believed in the existence of and worshipped one God (Enkai).

  • Among the most important ceremonies was the Eunto, which marked the graduation of the Morans into junior elders.


  • The largest political unit was the tribal section, regarded as the geographical nation.
  • The Age-set spokesmen handled affairs involving interclan cooperation.
  • Each clan was administered by a council of elders chosen because of their outstanding military performance and because of their senior position in the community.
  • The Morans defended the community and conducted raids.
  • A military leader led the warriors during war.
  • Junior elders dealt with day to day issues and maintained peace.

  • Senior elders handled the difficult judicial and political decisions.
  • By the end of the 19th century, the Oloibon (religious leader) had acquired political power.
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