Maasai cultural guides to lead events at Luther College

Public invited to join in Maasai singing and dancing and hear talk on how tribal culture is changing
Leboy Oltimbau and Musa Kamaika, members of the Maasai tribe of Tanzania, will be in residence at Luther College this spring. They will share their culture, which has developed around the herding of cattle, sheep and goats, while experiencing American life for the first time and greeting old friends. The Decorah community is invited to two events during their residency.

On Friday, April 28, Oltimbau and Kamaika will perform traditional and contemporary Maasai dancing and singing, inviting the audience to join in. The event will begin at 8:30 p.m. in Marty’s on the lower level of Dahl Centennial Union on the Luther campus. The event is sponsored by the Luther College Diversity Center, Student Activities Council Leadership Council and the Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department.

On Sunday, April 30, Oltimbau and Kamaika will present the talk “Culture Change Among the Maasai of Tanzania” at 7 p.m. in Room 206 of Valders Hall of Science on the Luther campus. They will share experiences and observations about how their culture is changing in the 21st century.

Both events are open to the public with no charge for admission.

For more than a decade, Oltimbau and Kamaika have worked with Luther College students and faculty as cultural guides and translators for January Term programs based in northern Tanzania. Students spend much of the month living in Maasai home communities in rural Tanzania. Oltimbau and Kamaika collaborate in the educational process to help students learn about the Maasai.

During their talk on culture change, the two will provide background on Tanzania and the Maasai, a herding tribe that has worked to maintain their traditional livelihood, dress, ceremonies and culture in the face of globalization, climate change and industrialization. From climate change to the Internet, conservation to business development, the presentation will provide a glimpse of the forces that are shaping development in Africa and the ways that indigenous cultures are responding.   

During their residency, Oltimbau and Kamaika will also speak with students in a variety of classes at Luther and talk with church and community organizations in Decorah. Their time in the U.S. is made possible through the Center for Sustainable Communities with additional support from Luther’s Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Leboy Oltimbau and Musa Kamaika