Local Lingo with...

a member of a Maasai Tribe

My favorite part about backpacking is meeting new people and learning their stories.  Local Lingo is a part of my site that interviews individuals from all over the world who have made an impact on me. Not everyone gets the chance to interact with locals while they travel, but it’s beneficial and intriguing to understand different perspectives from around the world. 

The Local

Tobico Ngimelil
  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro

Tobico Ngimelil

Pastoralism and Entrepreneur

Nationality: Tanzanian

Hometown: Loiborsoit, Tanzania

Age: 27

Job Description: Self-employed doing small scale farming and pastoralism

Description of his Maasai Village in one-sentence: “Loiborsoit is a Maasai name which means ‘white stones'”

  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro
  • Kesi To and Fro

How did we meet?

I interviewed Tobico, whom I stayed with for two nights in his Maasai village. This Maasai village visit was memorable since I was completely immersed in a unique culture.  Tobico and I were similar ages, and we both were intrigued about the others life. I was only the 3rd westerner Tobico had met, and Tobico was the first Maasai person I spent extended time with. I learned a lot about what it means to be Maasai, and am sharing this interview to give more perspective on Maasai life.

The Interview

Background Questions 

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. Watching football (soccer), driving, and traveling.

Q. Did you go to college? What did you study? Afterward, was it easy to find a job?

A.Yes, I did a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance. It was not easy to find a job! There are a large number of graduates but not many opportunities.

Q. What causes stress in your life?

A. Lying, conflict, and disappointment

Q. What’s your favorite food to eat?

A. Our favorite food is meat & milk.

Q. What makes you happy?

A. Socializing with other people, and peace

Questions about Being Maasai

Q. What does it mean to be Maasai? Are you proud to be Maasai? What are the best things about being from the Maasai tribe?

A. Anyone that belongs to the Maasai tribe is born with two Maasai parents. That is Maasai people! We have several clans, such as IrMollelian, Ilaiser Ilukumay, Isiria, and IrMamasita. Yes – of course, I am proud to be Maasai! The best things about being Maasai are preserving our ancestors culture, being generous people, and we all love each other. 

Q. Why should visitors come to visit your village?

A. People should visit to experience and explore real authentic Maasai life, not the fake ones.

Q. What are some unique Maasai traditions?

A. Our dressing style and settlement. We live in bomas and live in huts. We keep livestock. We are very traditional. We have a traditional ceremony when young boys are circumcised. We marry traditionally, and not like the western culture of having a wedding in a church.

We have an age set, which is a grouping of people of different ages. Different age sets are responsible for different things. When young warriors are circumcised, they become Moran and are responsible for the security of the community and livestock. The Moran stage lasts until 19, then the Moran retires and becomes an elder. From 1998 – 2018 my age set was known as Irkorianga, which meant I was a warrior protecting the community against any enemies and protect the livestock against wild animals.. Now I am Irnyangulo.

Q. How are the Maasai people treated in Tanzania?

A. We are treated equally like other people. 

Q. : What do you think when other men dress as Maasai but aren’t actually a part of the Maasai tribe?

A. People do this for business purposes and to trap money from Western people. 

Q. : Anything else you’d like to discuss that you think is important about being from the Maasai tribe?

A. We are good people! Generous, humble, and faithful. 

Travel Questions 

Q. Do you have a passport?

A. No, I don’t have a passport, but I can apply for one at any time – once I want to fly abroad.

Q. Is it easy for you to travel to other countries?

A. It’s not easy to travel abroad due to finances.

Q. What’s one place you want to visit and why?

A. USA, I like the country and it’s people. 

Q. Why do you like hosting people at your homestay?

A. I like to meet new people to experience new culture and to share new life ideas.

Q. What is your impression of Americans?

A. They are good and generous people like Maasai people. 

Thank you Tobico for answering all the questions. Be on the look out for more local interviews. What countries would you like to hear more interviews from? What questions do you want answered?  Answer in the comments below!

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