The Sartorial Style of the Maasai in Dar es Salaam.

Babu Hamisi was kind enough to introduce me to three Maasai men, who agreed to a photo shoot on our beachfront. Babu  runs the Maasai Centre, in Msasani, Dar es Salaam, which is stocked  with the textured,  coloured shukas ,  sandals and the soft fabrics for sarongs,  that are so favoured by the Maasai. Therein, you could locate shukas of various chequered or striped patterns in reds, blues and purples. The sandals originally made of cowhide now had straps of rubber strips from Tyres or plastic. There are bracelets and yes, many Maasai customers. Most Maasai speak Maa, an Eastern Nilotic Language and I found it at times difficult to communicate, despite my more than rudimentary knowledge of Kiswahili.

Having always believed that food and clothing offer much insight into peoples and eases cultural assimilation, Babu Hamisi’s shop found me thus, a regular patron.

Maasai men love to adorn themselves.  The finery includes colourful necklaces that are not crafted out of beads made of traditional seeds, shells , horns, bone and ivory any longer, but created from imported glass beads that can now be purchased in copious amounts from the kariakoo market. Nevertheless, the women create beautiful jewellery, in striking colour combinations.

Adogo, who appears in Red with a distinctive hair arrangement, impresses with his choice of colour in jewellery and attire. Samuel appears the more sedate of the two, in choosing a muted colour in blue. Peter, the lankier of the two, has accessorized beautifully. Some of the rest of us who joined this photo shoot wore colourful Swahili kitenge costumes (not featured here).

Well attired Maasai men or men dressed in Maasai costumes can be spotted in Dar es Salaam at many restaurants frequented by tourists. They are also employed as guards by some hotels or shops. The costume makes for very striking security personnel in all their sartorial embellishments.

It was a great, sunny day on the beach and we all had a wonderful time taking photos together as a remembrance of our time in Dar es Salaam. Grateful to Samuel, Adogo and Peter for joining us and making it so special.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bo says:

    Hi, where in Msasani is the Maasai Centre? I can’t seem to locate it and I’m on the lookout for the thin maasai fabric!

    Sorry for reposting. Put in the wrong email address …

  2. Bo says:

    Hi, where in Msasani is the Maasai Centre? I can’t seem to locate it and I’m on the lookout for the thin maasai fabric!

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