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Masai Manhood

Masai Manhood. © DWS contact RAI

Series Disappearing World Series
Director Chris Curling
Anthropologist Melissa Llewelyn-Davies
Country/Production UK
Release 1975
Length 52 mins
Format Colour / DVD / PAL / All region
Location East Africa / Africa
Ethnic Group Masai

Order No RAI-200.29
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This film was made after Masai Women and in the same area. Together the two films provide a vivid view of Masai men and women and their place in Masai society. The Masai are pastoral nomads in the East African rift valley with a social system which differentiates sharply between men and women and between age-sets. A particularly crucial distinction is made between men who are moran (`warriors') and more senior men classed as elders. After circumcision men live in the forest on the fringes of Masai society as moran debarred from marriage and excluded from crucial decision-making procedures. The film is focused on the life of the moran and on the dramatic eunoto ceremony which marks the important transition from warriorhood to full social maturity and the responsibilities of elderhood. The moran are given an opportunity in the film to talk about warriorhood and they sensitively strive to explain their ideals to the anthropologist. Their words are effectively translated in sub-titles. There is much valuable information in the film on the events leading up to the eunoto ceremony – including a fascinating sequence on the joking abuse directed by the moran at their mothers – and on the ritual procedures involved in the rite de passage itself. This may well be the last eunoto ceremony ever to be held as the pressures on the Masai to change their way of life are increasingly strong, and the film is important for the way in which it conveys the drama of the events and their significance both for the participants and for the Masai social system. H. A. Fosbrooke, 1948. `An Administrative Survey of the Masai Social System'. Tanganyika Notes and Records, 26, pp. 1–50. G.W.B. Huntingford (ed.), 1972. `Masai – Kenya, Tanzania'. In T. Stacey (editorial director), Peoples of the World, Vol. 2, Africa from the Sahara to the Zambezi. Tom Stacey and Europa Verlag, [London]. J. La Fontaine, 1975. Review of the film. RAIN, 9, p.6. M. Llewelyn-Davies, 1978. `Two Contexts of Solidarity amongst Pastoral Masai Women'. In P. Caplan and J. Bujra (eds.), Women United, Women Divided. Tavistock, London. M. Sharman, 1979. People of the Plains. Evans Brothers Ltd., London. (A 32-page booklet on the Masai, in the series Kenya's People, intended for use in schools.) P. Spencer, 1976. `Opposing Streams and the Gerontocratic Ladder: Two Models of Age Organisation in East Africa'. Man, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 153–175. P. Spencer, 1977. Age and the Paternal Yoke among the Masai (an unpublished manuscript deposited by Dr. Spencer in the Library of the Museum of Mankind). R. Waller, 1976. `The Masai and the British 1895–1905'. Journal of African History, pp. 529–553. For rich and detailed material on a similar society see: P. Spencer, 1965. The Samburu: A Study of Gerontocracy in a Nomadic Tribe. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

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