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Pictures | Thu Sep 24, 2020 | 10:47am EDT

Kenya's Maasai gather for ceremony to turn warriors into elders

Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony to unite two age-sets; the older Ilpaamu and the younger Ilaitete into senior elderhood as the final rite of passage, in Maparasha hills of Kajiado, Kenya September 23, 2020. Thousands of Maasai men clad in red and purple shawls and with their heads coated in red ochre gathered this week for a ceremony that transforms them from Moran (warriors) to Mzee (elders).

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony to unite two age-sets; the older Ilpaamu and the younger Ilaitete into senior elderhood as the final rite of passage, in Maparasha hills of Kajiado,...more

Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony to unite two age-sets; the older Ilpaamu and the younger Ilaitete into senior elderhood as the final rite of passage, in Maparasha hills of Kajiado, Kenya September 23, 2020. Thousands of Maasai men clad in red and purple shawls and with their heads coated in red ochre gathered this week for a ceremony that transforms them from Moran (warriors) to Mzee (elders). REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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1 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. Around 15,000 men from all over Kenya and neighboring Tanzania congregated in Maparasha Hills in Kajiado County, 128 km from Nairobi, to feast on an estimated 3,000 bulls and 30,000 goats and sheep.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. Around 15,000 men from all over Kenya and neighboring Tanzania congregated in Maparasha Hills in Kajiado County, 128 km from Nairobi, to feast on an estimated 3,000 bulls...more

Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. Around 15,000 men from all over Kenya and neighboring Tanzania congregated in Maparasha Hills in Kajiado County, 128 km from Nairobi, to feast on an estimated 3,000 bulls and 30,000 goats and sheep. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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2 / 19
Maasai elders slaughter a bull for the celebrants before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The ceremony occurs once every decade at the site, which is surrounded by hills and dotted with acacia trees. There are about 1.2 million Maasai living in Kenya, according to the government statistics office.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai elders slaughter a bull for the celebrants before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The ceremony occurs once every decade at the site, which is surrounded by hills and dotted with acacia trees. There are about 1.2...more

Maasai elders slaughter a bull for the celebrants before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The ceremony occurs once every decade at the site, which is surrounded by hills and dotted with acacia trees. There are about 1.2 million Maasai living in Kenya, according to the government statistics office. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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3 / 19
Maasai youth roast meat for the celebrants. On Wednesday, the men roasted the meat on beds of coal from acacia trees, holding staffs and swords.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai youth roast meat for the celebrants. On Wednesday, the men roasted the meat on beds of coal from acacia trees, holding staffs and swords. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai youth roast meat for the celebrants. On Wednesday, the men roasted the meat on beds of coal from acacia trees, holding staffs and swords. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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4 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato run to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. "I used to be a Moran, But after this ceremony, I now graduate to be a Mzee (elder)," Stephen Seriamu Sarbabi, a 34-year-old livestock trader, told Reuters. "I will now be having a lot of responsibilities in the community. I will be chairing some different meetings, I will be consulted," he added.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato run to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. "I used to be a Moran, But after this ceremony, I now graduate to be a Mzee (elder)," Stephen Seriamu Sarbabi, a 34-year-old livestock trader, told...more

Maasai men of Matapato run to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. "I used to be a Moran, But after this ceremony, I now graduate to be a Mzee (elder)," Stephen Seriamu Sarbabi, a 34-year-old livestock trader, told Reuters. "I will now be having a lot of responsibilities in the community. I will be chairing some different meetings, I will be consulted," he added. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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5 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The arrival of the coronavirus in March forced a postponement of the ceremony, which was meant to have been held earlier in the year.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The arrival of the coronavirus in March forced a postponement of the ceremony, which was meant to have been held earlier in the year. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. The arrival of the coronavirus in March forced a postponement of the ceremony, which was meant to have been held earlier in the year. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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6 / 19
A Maasai man of Matapato clan drinks water from a cow horn as he attends the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage. "My role here in this ceremony, is to come and bless my boys to graduate, to another stage of being wazees (elders), and to give them their privileges," Moses Lepunyo ole Purkei, a farmer, community health volunteer and elder, told Reuters.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai man of Matapato clan drinks water from a cow horn as he attends the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage. "My role here in this ceremony, is to come and bless my boys to graduate, to another stage of being wazees (elders), and to give them...more

A Maasai man of Matapato clan drinks water from a cow horn as he attends the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage. "My role here in this ceremony, is to come and bless my boys to graduate, to another stage of being wazees (elders), and to give them their privileges," Moses Lepunyo ole Purkei, a farmer, community health volunteer and elder, told Reuters. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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7 / 19
Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. During the ceremony, the men were accompanied by their wives, who also wore colorful shawls and beads around their necks and sang songs praising and encouraging the incoming group of elders.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. During the ceremony, the men were accompanied by their wives, who also wore colorful shawls and beads around their necks and sang songs...more

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. During the ceremony, the men were accompanied by their wives, who also wore colorful shawls and beads around their necks and sang songs praising and encouraging the incoming group of elders. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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8 / 19
Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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9 / 19
A Maasai woman sings for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai woman sings for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai woman sings for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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10 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato clan stand outside a manyatta house after attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato clan stand outside a manyatta house after attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato clan stand outside a manyatta house after attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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11 / 19
A Maasai man of Matapato clan applies red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai man of Matapato clan applies red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai man of Matapato clan applies red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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12 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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13 / 19
A Maasai elder blesses the celebrants during the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai elder blesses the celebrants during the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A Maasai elder blesses the celebrants during the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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14 / 19
Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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15 / 19
Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai women sing for their men of Matapato clan before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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16 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato clan apply red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato clan apply red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato clan apply red ochre before attending the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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17 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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18 / 19
Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Maasai men of Matapato jostle to parade as they attend the Olng'esherr (meat-eating) passage ceremony. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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19 / 19

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