DER Documentary

Maasai Women

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From the Odyssey series
Produced by Melanie Wallace and Sanford Low
color, 59 min, 1980

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The Maasai, a prosperous society of animal herders whose sustenence and wealth is their cattle, live primarily in the Rift Valley between Kenya and Tanzania. Women tend the cattle, bring up the children, clean mud from the village when it rains, and belong to a man's estate. This film highlights the Maasai female's rights of passage from childhood to old age, and her lot in life as she is tied to the fortunes of not only husbands but sons as well.

Since they alone can give birth, the women see themselves as important contributors to their husband's wealth and develop close supportive relationships with the co-wives. In this society, if a man is rich, "it's his wives who made him so."

Description from Science, Technology, & Human Values Vol. 5, No. 32 (Summer, 1980)

About the Odyssey series
In an attempt to cut the often esoteric ice of anthropology, PBS released in 1980 the first season of ODYSSEY, a newly-created series of anthropological documentaries, with a second season in 1981. The entire series was produced by Public Broadcasting Associates of Boston, with major funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Polaroid. Michael Ambrosino is the Executive Producer of the series.

other films in the Odyssey series:
The Ancient Mariners
The Chaco Legacy
Dadi's Family
Franz Boas
The Incas
Little Injustices
Margaret Mead: Taking Note
Maya Lords of the Jungle
Myths and the Moundbuilders
N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman
Ongka's Big Moka
On the Cowboy Trail
Other People's Garbage
Seeking the First Americans
The Three Worlds of Bali

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Related Films
Diary of a Maasai Village series
The Women's Olamal: The Organization of a Maasai Fertility Ceremony
Maasai Migrants series

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