Fourteen Cows

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In a beautiful gesture of sympathy following the 9/11 attacks, the Kenyan Masai tribespeople gave American diplomats 14 cows.

For the Masai people, the cow is valued above all possessions and the gift of a cow is the highest expression of regard and sympathy

The cattle – regarded as sacred by the Masai – were handed over to William Brancick, deputy head of the United States embassy in Kenya, in a remote village near the border with Tanzania.

The gift was arranged by Kimeli Naiyomah, a Kenyan-born man who was studying in New York at the time of the disaster.

“This is the ultimate gift a Masai can give,” Mr Naiyomah told Reuters news agency.

“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.”

The ceremony was marked by tribespeople in traditional red robes and jewelry, some of whom carried banners saying “To the people of America, we give these cows to help you”

The US national anthem played as the herdsmen handed over the cattle.

What a gesture of generosity and compassion, given by a people who have so little . . . no running water, electricity, or means of communication with the world outside of their villages. Would that we who have so much might be as generous to those in need.

This story was reported by BBC News: World Edition on Monday, June 3, 2002.

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