It was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives, herding nearly 100 cows to a village in Kenya with the GC logo around their necks, and then hiding them behind a hill to wait for the ceremony. As the women streamed in, they had no idea what was in store, only that they would be getting a present from some Americans.
Hundreds of people gathered, humming, singing, dressed in traditional Maasai red, with their faces painted. They looked like the most regal and beautiful people we’d ever seen.
The equivalent of the Secretary of the Interior for Kenya (cabinet member) came all the way from Nairobi to see the ceremony, made us honorary Kenyan Citizens, and then the villagers dressed us up in traditional Maasai robes and adopted us into their tribe.
One women in particular came up and through an interpreter said, “You have answered my prayer to God. I never dreamed I’d be this wealthy." We found out later her husband died only a few years after they were married - about the same time her mother died, leaving her 24 years old with four younger siblings to take care of, along with three of her own in a mud house and no income.
It was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives, and we can’t thank everyone enough for helping make it happen.
For those of you who contributed a cow, thank you. You truly changed the entire life of a family that day, and the cow you provided will be a source of wealth for years to come.
The Maasai are semi-nomadic pastoralists. The cattle are fundamental to the tribe's survival and this has led to an almost mystical relationship.
The Maasai believe that their (Rain) God Ngai granted all cattle to them for safekeeping when the earth and sky split, and now cattle are central to Maasai economy.
They serve many purposes: their milk and blood is used for food; their hide is used for mattresses, shoes and other accessories; their dung is used for plastering hut walls; their (sterile) urine has some medicinal and cleansing qualities; their meat is rarely taken for food (but may be used during ceremonies and in times of famine). Blood is obtained by creating a small wound, however the wound is not fatal and is patched up afterwards.
Cattle are a major sign of wealth and exchanged during marriage (to pay for brides). The quantity of cattle is more important than the quality although the Maasai have well over a hundred words to describe the cow.