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The Masai (or Masaai) people of Kenya are one of 42 tribes recognized in the Kenya Census and comprise a mere 1.76% of the national population. There are 8 tribes in Kenya with populations several times larger than the Masai, including the Kikuyu with 20.79% of the population, the Luhya (14.38%), Luo (12.38%), Kalenjin (11.46%), Kamba (11.42%), Kisii (6.15%), Meru (5.07%) and Mijikenda (4.7%). Still their small numbers the Masai fascinate non-Africans. Here is an example of thecolonial gaze.

The masai are traditionally herders of cattle. The cattle provide milk for human sustenance in areas that are not well suited for production of crops other than grass. Especially in times of drought the supply of food for both humans and cattle becomes marginal. The cows may cease milk production, leaving the humans with no other source of food than their cattle. Rather thn depleting their herds (which would leave them with insufficient food even in times of adequate rain fall), they use hollow needles to bleed relatively small amounts from the veins of their cattle, and maintain their own lives on this meager source of nutrition.


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