Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Ngai (also called Engai or Enkai) is the name of the supreme God among the Maasai people of East Africa. The Maasai may have separated from other Nilotic groups as early as 1,000 years ago and moved into what is known today as the countries of Sudan and Uganda. This split was followed by two major migration waves, one that might have occurred 300 years ago or earlier and the second one in the 18th century. These migratory movements account for the Maasai's present-day locations in Kenya and Tanzania. The Maasai are primarily a pastoral people, whose life and, therefore, religion are centered on cattle because the latter are said to be Ngai's unique gift to the Maasai. The word Ngai means “sky” in the Maa language. In the beginning, the sky (i.e., Ngai) and the Earth were one. All the cattle of the world belonged to Ngai. However, Hence, ...