Situated on the East coast of Africa, Tanzania is likely one of the oldest inhabited places on Earth. With human and hominid fossils found in the Great Rift Valley and Olduvai Gorge (in northern Tanzania) dating back over two million years, Tanzania may well be Eden on earth. As a region in East Africa, Tanzania has been dominated by Arab slave traders, Portuguese merchants and German and British imperialists. Present day Tanzania, the United Republic of Tanzania, did not come into being until 1961. This transformation occurred at the hands of Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first president. As a president Nyerere was as loved as he was controversial, and through a Moa Tse-tung inspired cultural revolution forged, some would even say forced, a Tanzanian identity by requiring a single language (Swahili) and a single political party.
No single group of people inTanzania was impacted perhaps as dramatically by Nyerere polices as the Maasai. A semi-nomadic people, the Maasai’s traditional homeland stretched from northern Tanzania to southern Kenya.
Living on the vast plains of the Serengeti, the Maasai have herded cattle for centuries, living off the milk and blood from their animals. Perhaps best known among African peoples (largely because of their distinctive red-robe dress and high jumping dances) the Maasai are an independent and entrepreneurial people who love their life out on the grassland of Tanzania.
Due to years of drought and the loss of their lands to national parks and large scale government farms, the Maasai are suffering. Africa’s Promise Village considers it a privilege to help these resilient people adapt to the changing demands of the third millennium while they maintain their centuries-old traditions.