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There’s more to Maasai art than high jumps
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There’s more to Maasai art than high jumps

It took more than the Maasai Arts Group’s high jumps to fascinate the National Arts Council (BASATA) Officer, Bona Masenge, on Monday morning. She knew members of this ethnic group had such abilities, so it was not something new.

However, hearing their Chief Director, William Moses, give such in-depth explanations in relations to their cultural traits, in reply to various questions asked by members of the audience, was an eyeopener for her.

Masenge had chaired Monday’s Art Stage (‘Jukwaa La Sanaa’) at BASATA’s Ilala Bungoni premises where the Maasai troupe had been invited. During the proceeding she took time out to remind the audience of the reason behind having the gathering as not just for them to be entertained but to give all sections of the Creative Industry a chance to exchange and discuss relative issues towards beneficial growth for all.

“The Art Stage provides the opportunity for all artistes, whether an individual, group or institution, to show their works, provide education so that others can learn. It also acts as a challenge for the invited artistes to find out what people think of them and their works, together with what is going-on elsewhere in relations to their art form,” she elaborated.

She also addressed the question put to her in reference to the Maasai ethnic group being a distinct sect within the community, as distinguished by their individualistic style of dress.

Therefore, they are sufficiently mingled within any community, for its members to have gained some knowledge of their customs, traits and traditions. Her response was quite explicit but different from expected.

Masenge maintained that being surrounded by members of this ethnic grouping does not provide the best way of knowing the truth behind their actions. To be sure that the information gathered are true, she explained, it must be obtained from a reliable source, such as members of the group.

This is not always possible just by meeting them in public places. These are the types of questions, which were answered by Moses on the Art Stage, to help clear-up some of the misconceptions held by those outside his ethnic group.

Added to this, the audience also learnt the meaning behind the two individual dance pieces, which the group had presented that morning. Each was distinctly different, for one dealt with the issue of being happy, while the other a traditional wedding.


They also learnt about the symbolic meanings to the colourful Jewellery worn by the group’s members. When the ‘Daily News’ had the opportunity to have a short chat with the troupe’s Chief Director he said they were pleased to have had the chance of manning Monday’s Art Stage.

Now they are certain that the Council will have a better understanding of their live presentations together with other members of the Creative Industry, who turned-up for the occasion. Since the group’s physical change of address from the Gongo La Mboto section of Dar es Salaam to Msasani, last year, they have been fortunate to get a series of engagements. Amongst these were the local Mercedes Benz dealer, Mediterranean Hotel and Serena Hotel.

They also had the chance to carry their art to various regions in the country when on tour with the Kilimanjaro Music Awards and to be part of the welcoming party, at the airport to receive dignitaries. “Our plan right now is to keep on progressing and expanding our repertoire.

We want to keep bringing aspects of our culture to all corners of the country, other countries on the continent and even to other parts of the world. If all goes well, with our current preparations, there is a possibility we will be going to Germany next year,” Moses said.

Concerning their intention of opening a Maasai cultural centre, he said they were advised by Basata’s officials to approach the ministry of Information, Sports and Culture for direction.

His elder brother and member of the group, Elia Moses, also expressed satisfaction to see they were able to make some strides. Although these are steps at a slow rate, he still remains steadfast on their goals.

By IMAN MANI, Tanzania Daily News

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