Our beloved Rombo Manyatta is located in the sublocation of Rombo, 3 km away from the town of Mailitatu, in the district of Loitokitok, Kajiado County in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province. It is strategically situated on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, only a few kilometers away from Tanzania and Tsavo National Park and in close proximity to Amboseli National Park. Tsavo, known for its bird life, black rhinos, buffalos, elephants, leopards, hippos, Maasai giraffes and lions, is one of the oldest parks in Kenya and the largest encompassing area of 22,000 km2. Amboselli is famous for being the best place in Africa to get close to large herds of elephants among other wildlife.
Kenya’s Loitokitok district, located in the southern part of the Rift Valley, is home to the highest population of Maasai in Africa. The four currently active “Manyattas” in this district, namely the Rombo, Orgulului, Imbricani and Iltilal (Kuku) Manyattas, oversee an estimated 3,000 Maasai “Morans” in Kenya and an estimated 1,000 Morans in bordering Tanzania. Morans are young boys who are circumcised and raised to become our tribe’s official army of brave warriors who protect our women, children, elders and livestock. The number of our Morans increases yearly with the increasing continuous circumcision of young boys. The lower quantity of Morans in Tanzania is a result of circumcision not taking place as fast as in Kenya. In our culture, boys don’t become men until they are circumcised.
Rombo Manyatta is the largest and most important of all the four active Manyattas in our area. There are currently 37 houses in the Rombo Manyatta. The number of houses will continue to increase at the end of each year during the rainy season months of November and December, when our Morans return with cows that have been grazing at Tsavo National Park. The mother of a Maasai Moran resides in each of our homes. Each of the 37 mothers is responsible for taking care of her 3 to 5 unmarried children, in addition to approximately 5 or more Morans, typically 2 being her sons.
Our “Elders” are our fathers and the respected fathers of our Maasai community. They too have been Morans but unlike us, they own cows, harvest crops and have typically accumulated some wealth. The most respected Elders send their first wives to reside at Rombo Manyatta and hand their wellbeing and safety to the Assistant Chief and Chief Commander. Our Elders, including our recently retired Moran Chief Commander, are not allowed to permanently reside in our Manyatta. They are permitted to visit and typically show up on the weekends, after long walks from our homes in the remote towns where they reside with their second and third wives.
Every 20 years, our Maasai Moran Chief Commander is carefully chosen and blessed by our Elders. Our leader leads and oversees the new generation of Morans and our four newly built Manyattas, each of which is led by an Assistant Chief. There is also an Assistant Chief Commander of all four Manyattas who is the second in command and the right hand to the Moran Chief Commander.
On May 25, 2013 a large meeting took place where our 4,000 Maasai Morans chose 10 candidates for the Moran Chief Commander position. Two of the Elders were selected to carefully research, present and discuss the background of the families of all 10 individuals, all whom were banned from participating in the gathering. The Elders narrowed down the selection to 4 individuals and finally elected a Moran Chief Commander: Joseph Toret Longoi. Joseph’s selection was based on past behavior, family reputation, character and leadership. After his election, the Chief Commander appointed an Assistant Chief Commander, a Secretary, a Treasurer and ten Cabinet members.
The new Moran Chief Commander, also holding the Rombo Manyatta Chief position and Leshan Kampaine, the Rombo Manyatta Assistant Chief and also the Commanding Secretary of all Manyattas, were both blessed on June 22 at an all-day ceremony of critical importance to our community. Participants included approximately 4,000 Maasai and 1,000 visitors, including the honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, our country’s President; Katoo Metito, our Member of Parliament; Joseph Ole Lenku, our Internal Security Minister, Chancellors and other Members of Parliament. Under the leadership of our Maasai Moran Chief Commander, our entire tribe looks forward to two decades of prosperous times and positive changes that will improve our current challenging living conditions.