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Dance of Maasai jumping. Can you jump high?
The adumu, also known as the “jumping dance,” is a well-known Maasai rite that has been immortalized in innumerable images and films. Many tourists, however, may be ignorant of the genuine meaning of this dance. On safari, tribesmen would frequently play an out-of-context rendition for guests. The adumu is only one of the numerous ceremonies that comprise the Eunoto, the ceremony at which the morani, or younger warriors, become manhood.
Children remain at home with their parents until adolescence, when they are initiated into the earliest stages of masculinity through the Emuratta, a ritualized circumcision ceremony (women, unlike boys, do not have their own “age group,” but do so through some of their own rites on their journey to adulthood).
Boys who pass the Emuratta successfully (one of the requirements is that you do not even flinch) are elevated to junior moran status. Following the procedure, the newly arrived morani are transported to a “manyatta,” a communal campsite where they will stay for up to 10 years. The manyatta camp was created in part to teach male Maasai independence, as women traditionally take care of domestic responsibilities as their children grow older.
It’s reasonable that the morani, who are separated from the rest of their tribe and barred from eating or drinking in the company of a lady, would seize the opportunity to reach full manhood.
Eunoto festivities can last up to ten days and involve singing, a march in front of elder warriors, a traditional cow slaughter, and the first taste of alcohol, which is often made from fermented aloe roots and honey. The adumu, on the other hand, is one of the ceremony’s most picturesque elements.
The young morani create a circle into which one or two will enter at a time. The young warriors began to jump, maintaining a tight posture with their heels never touching the ground. The higher and more elegant the warrior’s leap, the more desirable he is to the young ladies watching (a huge motivator for the young men who will only be able to marry when the Eunoto ceremony is accomplished!).
After one warrior exhausts himself (usually after only a few leaps; the height attained is usually astounding and needs tremendous agility), another fighter takes his place. The morani on the outer circle keep singing, raising their pitch to “meet” the height of the leaps.
After the ritual, the morani shave their long hair as a symbol of their new status as full-fledged warriors. They may now rejoin society, marry, and establish their children.