Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

14 Donated Cows Will Pay for Education of Masai Kids

ENOOSAEN, Kenya -- When Masai tribesmen marry, they give cows. When there is a friend in need or a condolence call to make, more cows.

So it was, in this one-cow-fits-all spirit, that the elders of Enoosaen four years ago donated 14 prized bulls and heifers to the people of the United States to help ease the pain of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But there was one little problem: the cattle -- and how to get them from here to there.

On Sunday, U.S. diplomats returned to this town in the carpeted hills of southern Kenya and announced, much to the delight of the hundreds of Masai gathered in their best beaded finery, that the cattle were not going anywhere, especially not to the slaughterhouse.

Instead, they will be blessed, and their offspring will be used to pay for education for the children of Enoosaen. To get the cow trust fund going, the Americans are donating 14 high school scholarships.

"What you did to help us will not be forgotten," said the new U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger.

The Masai elders, some sitting in monkey skin jackets, beamed.

"We did what we knew best," said an elder, Mzee ole Yiamboi. "The handkerchief we give to people to wipe their tears with is a cow."

With cow bells jangling and Masai women thumping up and down, doing a dance they usually do in drought times to praise God, the festivities were an unusual way to mark the fifth anniversary of the attacks. But then again, it was an unusual demonstration of sympathy in the first place.