Skip to comments.Maasai Tribe s-Ultimate Gift 15 Cows Were Offered to Help Heal Sept. 11 Suffering
Posted on 06/03/2002 2:55:42 PM PDT by gubamyster
By David Mwangi
E N O O S A E N, Kenya, June 3 Arrayed in red robes and bead jewelry, impoverished Kenyan Maasai tribespeople gave a U.S. official their most precious possession cattle to show sympathy for the bereaved of Sept. 11.
"To the people of America, we give these cows to help you," read banners held by some among hundreds of Maasai villagers who watched their elders present 15 cattle to a U.S. diplomat Sunday in this huddle of thatch-roofed mud huts near the Tanzanian border. The ceremonial transfer of the cattle to acting U.S. ambassador William Brencick was arranged by Enoosaen-born Kimeli Naiyomah, a Kenyan student in the United States who was on a visit to New York on the day of the attacks.
Like other Massai, the inhabitants of the isolated village, which has no electricity, telephones or paved roads, rely totally on their cattle for their diet of blood, meat and milk.
"This is the ultimate gift a Maasai can give," Naiyomah told Reuters.
He said his tribespeople had been moved to hear his account of the day more than 3,000 people were killed in attacks by hijackers of four passenger airplanes in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon outside Washington.
U.S. officials blamed the attacks on the Muslim extremist al Qaeda group of Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden.
One of Kenya's smallest and most culturally traditional tribes, the pastoralist Maasai normally consider that any work other than herding cattle is beneath a man's dignity and a man must be able to fight off predators like lions and leopards.
But the inhabitants of this Rift Valley settlement banded together five years ago to send Naiyomah to the United States to go to the University of Oregon. Now a medical student at Stanford University, he has gained other sponsors.
Warrior in Kenya
"I am used to responding to emergencies as a warrior back home [in Kenya]," Naiyomah said. "When there is a tragedy and there is a warcry, people expect that a warrior responds. Being in New York, I could not respond and I felt a little uneasy having done nothing, so I carried this pain in my heart and I wanted to do something.
"I felt that I wasn't just a foreign student. I was part of the people. It felt like home had been attacked."
"I knew my people, I knew they are merciful they can be fierce and deadly when provoked but they are also the type of people who can easily cry for the pain of other people," he said.
Brencick said the embassy would find it difficult to ship the cattle to the United States and had decided to sell the animals to raise funds to buy beadwork made in the village for display at a Sept. 11 memorial in New York.
"The world has not been divided by this tragedy," Brencick said in a speech, recalling that Kenyans had suffered the bulk of the fatalities in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
"Kenyans too have suffered this kind of terror and loss; the same people who committed these crimes were the same group that killed and wounded thousands of Kenyans in the [Kenya] bombing."
Cows Equal Cash
Members of al Qaeda were convicted in the United States of the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Brencick added: "In the United States, many cows are raised and highly valued. But I know that for the Maasai people the cow is valued above all possessions and that the gift of a cow is the highest expression of regard and sympathy."
"They say Americans are wealthy and indeed we are in many ways. But when we count the value of these cows, and when we add the value of the great spirits that gave them, we can say without doubt that you seem richer still," he added.
Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
More like a moooooooving gesture.
Damn straight. Fifteen cows is more than France offered in assistance.
It just shows how wonderful people can really be, no matter the differences....
Kenya seems to be one of the more "together" nations in Africa. I'll have to read up on them some more. I had mostly given up any hope for that continent. AIDs and *ssholes seemed to dominate it judging by recent events.
So nice to hear of this kind act of generousity from the Maasai. My sincere thanks goes out to them.
Maasai elders presented 15 cattle to United States acting ambassador to Kenya William Brenchick, right. The gift was presented at Enoosaen, Kenya, on June 2, 2002. (U.S. Embassy/Reuters)
Now I wonder...did Saudi Arabia offer anything? I certainly can't recall it...though I do seem to remember an offer that was withdrawn when the mayor didn't bend the knee to Saudi sensibilities.
One starts to see who one's friends are. And who one's enemies are.
I think Canada sent crews, but our countries are siblings.
I get angry when I see Americans disrespecting gifts from a people who give not from their wealth, but from their poverty.
It just reinforces my belief that we encounter these tragedies because of our own ingratitude.
These people have done nothing but try to help the United States.
Shame on you, gubamyster, for posting a story in an effort to generate ridicule.
Whatever your beliefs about race and culture, your attidude is unamerican and disgraceful.
Sure hope we ate them!
Whatever their culture did to make them this generous, and to raise warriors at 14 to kill lions with a spear, needs to be infused into us.
What a great and noble people!
The NATO countries of mainland Europe all sent condolences and many helped in the war, but their responses were more constrained.
"Vegan" is from the Swahili and Lakotan word for "lousy hunter."
I really doubt if you can read my mind and tell what my intent was. If so, maybe you should count ballots in FL next election. I wouldn't have posted it if I didn't think the article was worthy.
Maybe we should see if they'll adopt some of our kids. I'd like to see our public schools instill the values these people have.
And it is good, I say to you my brother. It is good.
This sure beats the 'whine' France gave us. :)
How often do we bring our puny gifts to the Lord -- gifts from a heart overflowing with gratitude. God has no "need" for our gifts, but the gesture touches Him in such a way that we receive it back "pressed down and overflowing".
I'm touched by their gift, and I hope the US will be generous with them.
This is a most generous and heartfelt gift. Very moving.
I hope Rudy or Bloomberg hears of the story.
$10,000,000 to NYC...and after making claims that the United States was partly at blame...Rudy told them to shove it...
Maybe somebody can put up a webpage where Americans could buy those beads.
I bet they'd be able to sell all they could produce.
Very little in the materialistic sense, but much, much more in the spiritual sense. In that sense, the Maasai are far richer today than before their generous gift to America and Americans.