The Maasai Art of Courtship

In many animal groups, there has to be a display of either masculinity or strength from the male species in order to attract and mate with a female. This is known as a courtship display i.e., a set of display behaviours often including ritualized movement ("dances"), vocalizations, mechanical sound production, or displays of beauty, strength, or agonistic ability; the mate exercises choice, so sexual selection acts on the display.

MAASAI

deangichuki

8/6/20212 min read

group of people in celebration

If you’ve gone through the school system, you may have an idea that human beings are another animal species, just a tad bit different from the others because of our high intellectual capability and other behavioural mannerisms. That said, there are some things that we do that are not as far from our fellow Animalia groups. One of these is the process of courtship and recreation.

In many animal groups, there has to be a display of either masculinity or strength from the male species in order to attract and mate with a female. This is known as a courtship display i.e., a set of display behaviours often including ritualized movement ("dances"), vocalizations, mechanical sound production, or displays of beauty, strength, or agonistic ability; the mate exercises choice, so sexual selection acts on the display. Since the offspring of a female will inherit half of the genetic information from the male counterpart, those traits she saw as attractive will be passed on, producing fit offspring. In this case, males may compete during courtship by displaying desirable traits to pass on to offspring.

This is also seen in the maasai community. When males come of age and are at that “finding a wife” age, most like already a moran, warriors will perform the traditional leaping dance called adumu. They use this to compete to see who can jump the highest and to decide who gets to marry who. Men and women prepare for the dance by painting designs on their faces and bodies with a red, earthy pigment called ochre. They wear intricate, colourful beadwork necklaces and shawls. Warriors spend time psyching themselves up ahead of the jumping dance. The outcome could decide who will be their wife, it, after all, takes immense strength and fitness to be able to reach such heights. Armed with their hunting spears, the men huddle together then fan out into a circle. One at a time they go to the centre, jumping in time to the rhythm. It’s important to keep the body as straight as possible and heels shouldn’t touch the ground between jumps. The warrior who jumps the highest gets the most acclaim and he can then choose who will be his wife.

Question though, if this practice was performed in all communities, how single would you be? #FoodForThought