Maasai Warriorhood Initiation


Salei Maasai Warrior Ceremony, Tanzania

In 2006, east of the Serengeti plains in Tanzania, 900 warriors undergo the Eunoto Ceremony, their ritual passage to elderhood. During a five-day period, they undergo dramatic rituals of transformation. First, they shed their beautiful white beaded jewellery symbolic of their warrior status. In a long procession they enter the ceremonial manyatta waving red flags, symbolic of their fiery spirit. At the height of emotion, they fall into dramatic fitting states and must be carried off by their age mates. In secrecy, the warriors then paint themselves with white chalk pigment to become unrecognisable even to their mothers. Finally, each mother shaves off her son’s long warrior locks. A sea of ochered heads, the generation then gathers together for the final blessings by their elders as they leave the most powerful stage of their life and enter elderhood.