Local Footware – Masendeu – The sandals of the Maasai

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Journalism from Africa for Africa by David Suddy

Masendeu also known as katambuga or maraiyo in local languages within Arusha region in Tanzania are local footwear sandals made from rubber materials out of old tires which are no longer used in vehicles. These wheels tires are basically from trucks and motorcycles, but not bicycle ones.

These types of shoes give freedom to the user at any weather condition as they can be adaptable in adverse weather conditions be it rainy or sunny conditions. They have long been used by the rural people especially the Maasai, a dominant pastoralists tribe found in the Northern part of Tanzania particularly in the Arusha region.  

Since the Maasai and other pastoralists tribes who have long been wearing Masendeu are subjected to long distance walking especially when looking for pastures and water to sustain their livestock, these types of footwear have been proven durable and flexible.

Masendeu have led to considerable evolution within the fashion industry as recently the innovations and advancements in the manufacturing of the tire products is taking place.  Well decorated sandals or slippers of different styles, painted in various colors that are made out of the reused tires are being produced.  

Nowadays it is not just the Maasai, but people from different tribes and ethnicity are wearing these types of footwear. Regardless the functional purposes of the footwear, it is also credit to the environmental protection through the reuse of materials. 

Author and pictures: David Suddy, Kontakt david.suddy.tz@gmail.com

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