Understanding the world of The Maasai with Chief Joseph ole Tipanko
Students were enveloped in the world of the Maasai when Chief Joseph ole Tipanko, Cicilia Seleyian and John Kilenyi Parsitau visited Collegiate for a Middle School Assembly and 2nd Grade class presentation. Chief Joseph tours the U.S. annually in partnership with the United Nations to share stories of his people, their history, culture, traditions and the challenges of assimilating into 21st-century demands. He is on a mission to improve living conditions for his impoverished people while clinging tenaciously to the beauty of old culture and traditions.
The Maasai number over 600,000 people in Kenya alone. Chief Joseph leads more than 5,000 Maasai tribal members and charges himself with having “one foot in the Western arena so that we can improve our lives with clean water, schooling for our children and opportunities for our people." Once nomads, the tribe, split between Kenya and Tanzania, now focuses on community building, including schools and infrastructure, while preserving their practices of peace and human rights.
While visiting Collegiate, Chief Joseph and his fellow tribesmen shared stories of their culture and the Maasai tradition that emphasizes family and living in harmony with the environment. Students listened intently to stories about gender roles, herding, living close to the Earth and the male rite of passage by killing a lion. Chief Joseph also shared how livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep serve as the primary source of income for the Maasai. Chief Joseph, Cicilia Seleyian and John Kilenyi Parsitau then invited student volunteers to don a traditional Maasai wedding necklace and warrior headdress and shield, learn Maasai songs and participate in Maasai dances.
Chief Joseph is a model of global citizenship through his efforts to build an understanding of the Maasai culture and plight for the common good locally, nationally and internationally. Student world view was enhanced by Chief Joseph's visit to Collegiate, and he left encouraging students to continue to learn and understand other cultures, welcome multiple perspectives and develop deep appreciation for lives lived differently.
The Cougar Shop has Maasai jewelry on display and will be selling it through the first week of November. All the funds will benefit Chief Joseph’s nonprofit foundation, Maasai Good Salvage Outreach Organization.