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Maasai Present Cattle to US Ambassador

June 3, 2002 2:58 AM   Subscribe

Maasai Present Cattle to US Ambassador
To mark September 11, people of Enoosean, a Maasai (Rift Valley Province, Kenya) village, have presented 15 heads of cattle to a visiting US ambassador, William Brencick. The presentation was organized by a Maasai medical student who was visiting New York on September 11.
    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 September 11 memorial in New York. (1)
posted by rschram (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Maasai diet: Traditionally, the Maasai rely on meat, milk and blood from cattle for protein and caloric needs. People drink blood on special occasions. It is given to a circumcised person (o/esipolioi), a woman who has given birth (entomononi) and the sick (oltamueyiai). Also, on a regular basis drunk elders, ilamerak, use the blood to alleviate intoxication and hangovers. Blood is very rich in protein and is good for the immune system. However, its use in the traditional diet is waning due to the reduction of livestock numbers.
posted by pracowity at 3:08 AM on June 3, 2002


That's very kind of the Maasai people; I thank them. Of course, only one thing passes through my mind when I think of the cattle:
"Mmmmmmm.....unprocessed hamburgers......"
posted by davidmsc at 3:36 AM on June 3, 2002


Very sweet story, in its simplicity. "That guy — surely we would have to kill him. We as the Masai have ways to kill, just using a spear and bows and arrows... He's a strong man so we couldn't do it directly. We would surround him in the bush."
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:18 AM on June 3, 2002


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 September 11 memorial in New York.

I don't like the sounds of that. They should have spared no expense at getting them to the US...
posted by Dean_Paxton at 6:40 AM on June 3, 2002


Wow. This literally moved me to tears. Just the simple, human meaning behind the statement "To the people of America, we give these cows to help you."

I saw something on Animal Planet not too long ago, where Anthony Hopkins was visiting among the Maasai. A tribesman was explaining to him that his people had made a deal with God in ancient times, in which the Maasai were given dominion over all the cows on the earth. Hopkins asked "Even British cows?" and the guy said "Yes, even British cows belong to the Maasai." I think that it's very kind of them to let us use their cows. They're a really amazing people.
posted by Fenriss at 7:34 AM on June 3, 2002


I don't like the sounds of that. They should have spared no expense at getting them to the US...

To do what with them, exactly? Let them graze on some public lands until they die of old age? Or should ceremonial cattle be sent to the nearest slaughterhouse to become Big Macs?

By selling the cattle at a reaasonable market rate and buying beadwork from the Maasai, we're turning their gift into a benefit for both of us; we're infusing their society with cash, and we're getting the beads which can become a part of the memorial. Cows, as beautiful and meaningful as they are, couldn't be a part of the memorial. This is win-win all around.
posted by Dreama at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2002


To do what with them, exactly?

I'm sure that you are right. That part just struck me as a bit off-putting.

Still, I'm sure that somewhere within the millions of acres of federal wildlife preserves and agricultural programs, there is a place for these animals. Not to mention the millions more acres in the private sector that would have cared for them as well.

I wouldn't think that we would pen them up in NYC in some petting zoo, no more than we would turn them in to food... that was never in my mind.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:08 AM on June 3, 2002


"Yes, even British cows belong to the Maasai."

In other words, "All your cows are belong to us."
posted by Danelope at 9:12 AM on June 3, 2002


*smacks Danelope*

This is a lovely story. It's good to see the United States is respected by someone. Personally, I'd rather have the respect of the Maasai than the EU any old day.
posted by evanizer at 11:05 AM on June 3, 2002


What about sending them to some zoo? The Catskill Game Farm? Not the best way of handling the situation, IMHO.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2002


Selling the cows is a social faux pas. One does not sell a gift.

Particularly such an extravagent gift from people so impoverished. Fifteen cows is surely a significant loss for them, and as such requires more respect.

In my opinion, the Ambassador should have purchased some grazing land for the cows, preferably near the US embassy, and made this into a true recognition of the Maasai. In a time when the government thinks nothing of dropping *billions* of dollars into bombs, it could surely spend a few tens of thousands of dollars to do the Right Thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on June 3, 2002


The beadwork is a nice idea, in that it makes it possible for New Yorkers to understand a little about the people. But how to reciprocate? A trip to meet some American cowboys at a roundup? An invitation to a pow-wow from one of the Plains tribes?

An invitation for a Masai leader to spend a weekend at Bush's ranch, in conjunction with the announcement of the next US-Africa public health initiative.
posted by sheauga at 1:34 PM on June 3, 2002


5xfish: Selling the cows is a social faux pas. One does not sell a gift.

Perhaps a faux pas; but then again, are you an expert on the Maasai? I should hope (and maybe it's asking too much- I'm not ignorant of who gets ambassadorships) that the ambassador would be a little more familiar than you are with the customs and mores of the local people; perhaps if they are sold in the right way, no offense is taken.

sheauga: An invitation for a Masai leader to spend a weekend at Bush's ranch, in conjunction with the announcement of the next US-Africa public health initiative.

I like the way you think. Never gonna happen- maybe Bush will ask "Do you have blacks in Africa?" upon meeting a Maasai tribesman.
posted by hincandenza at 12:30 AM on June 4, 2002


Why does this remind me of the Tasaday controversy?
posted by crasspastor at 3:57 AM on June 4, 2002


Maybe it's not too late to right this error? Can't some rich Texan buy the cows and donate them to some grazing land?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:26 AM on June 4, 2002


Wait, this doesn’t make sense...
Kenya is poor. Poverty breeds terrorism and hatred of America. Everyone hates America because it impoverishes and exploits the world. America cares only about making a quick buck.
America is a rogue nation. Everyone hates America.
This does not compute.
This does not compute.
This d
[chomsky.pl dumped core]

posted by Hieronymous Coward at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2002


Are these the same cows from the other thread, or is everybody trying to dump cattle on the US these days?
posted by thirteen at 7:23 PM on June 4, 2002


Same cows. Of course, if we were really a moral nation, we would introduce the Masai to the glories of tofu.
posted by darukaru at 6:04 AM on June 5, 2002


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