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COVID-19 disrupts tradition, business of Kenya's Maasai community


Kenya’s famous Masaai warriors are renowned for rituals and customs which they keep to this day, but the spread of COVID-19 is disrupting their traditional way of life.

Fears over the pandemic has forced them to cancel their semi-nomadic lifestyle and all the traditional celebrations.

David Nina, a Maasai moran (youth) leader recounts how past diseases ravaged the community and fears they have over the current pandemic: “Our history as told to us by our elders tells of a time when our people faced a disease which was brought into our midst by the white man …

“… between 1883 to 1902 when these diseases killed many people in the Maasai community and now we hear of this new disease and we are scared that it will kill many of us again.”

The Maasai revere their history and their culture, passing down stories and tales of previous lives which revolves like a precious heirloom from one generation to the next.

Letaari Salaash, a village elder speaks of the challenges: “The Maasai are known for gathering in different homesteads for different social reasons, but now it is a challenge. We cannot go to anybody’s homestead anymore.

The disease has forced people to stay at home with their own children. The Maasai are being hit economically as the traditional markets where they trade their cattle are suspended.

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