The Maasai Tribe are a group of women trained and sustainably employed by Ubuntu, the Maker behind The Zazzle Heart Adventure Collection. This partnership empowers these women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty through their time-honored tradition of beadwork.
The Maasai live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes. Perhaps their most distinctive characteristics are their lively and colorful custom dress and adornments. Beadwork plays an important role in Maasai culture and for hundreds of years, the Maasai have handcrafted jewelry. Maasai beadwork embodies the whole of Maasai culture representing beauty, strength, tradition, warrior-hood, marriage, age sect, marital status, social status and their deep love and devotion for their cattle.
The beads are used as a form of adornment in everyday life, ceremonies, and rites of passage and are often given to visitors as a sign of gratitude and respect. Ubuntu Made has taught the Maasai women to use their beading skillset to earn a living and provide for their families. Their beadwork has allowed them to become financially self-sufficient, improve their living standards, and educate their children unlike ever before.
Each product in The Adventure Collection has a small beaded mark to honor the Maasai women who handcrafted each piece. Following tradition, each bead color represents a different aspect of the Maasai culture:
Blue: Symbolizes energy and sustenance and the color of the sky which provides water for the people and their cattle
Orange: Symbolizes warmth, friendship, generosity and hospitality, representative of the color of the ground, which is used to share milk with guests and welcome visitors into one’s home
Meet Nairoshi (Maasai Tribeswoman)
“Welcome! Thank you for coming all the way to visit us here. Did you know I’m the queen?” she teases.
Nairoshi continues with a tone of reverence. “I love my family and what I do every day. I love [working with] Ubuntu Made. I love waking up healthy and working every day – beading every day. My tiara is my favorite jewelry piece and I love it because it’s made of beads. I will never be bored with beads!”
“Working with Ubuntu Made…, we are a partnership, and we feel empowered…I’m so grateful for Ubuntu Made and the companies they work with to help us here.”
Meet Jackline (Maasai Tribeswoman)
Since connecting with Ubuntu Made, Jackline has come a long way. Because of this job, her kids are going to school every day, something she never would have been able to afford just a few years ago. “Since I started beading, I can now buy some cows. My roof was leaking and now it’s not.”
“When there’s no jobs, I can still sell [my beading] locally. I can help contribute to old moms, blind ladies – sit with them while they bead. It gives them something to do during their day.”
“Thank you for believing in us, it’s not just me wishing anymore, change is happening right in front of my eyes.”
To read more stories of the Maasai tribeswomen, visit here