14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

14 Cows for AmericaI was going to share the recipe for fake vegetable vomit this month. Then I thought “Nah, too gross.” So, then I thought I’d write about Patricia Rielly Giff’s worthy new book Wild Girl but, I was in a mood for something with more of a worldview. And then I opened 14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy, a book for all ages and “the ages.”

I have to admit that I’ve become a bit jaded about 9/11. It’s not with any pride that I admit that when it rolled around last month I pretty much tried to ignore it. 14 Cows for America made me sit back and reconsider my opinions.

On the day of the attack, 9/11/2001, a young man, a student, was visiting New York City. He was from a tiny village in western Kenya. His name was Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. He was a Maasai, one of a people who, once fierce warriors are now gentle herders of cattle. Even though he was a stranger, he was overcome by the devastation, loss of life, bravery and pain that was born on that terrible day. He was determined to help in some way, any way.

His story is the story of one group of people reaching out to help another group in need. It’s a story oft repeated in such circumstances. People who have little in the way of material wealth are willing to give up their most precious possessions to aid someone else—even a stranger–who has suffered a tragedy. The people of Kimeli’s village did not know any Americans, they would, most likely, never travel to the United States and yet, when they heard the story of the attack from the much effected Kimeli, they knew they must do something to show their solidarity with America. They gave their cows, their precious cows. To the Maasai, “cows are life.” They felt that there could be no more fitting gift to a people who had been so badly wounded as New York, as America.

No one can read this book—especially Kimeli’s afterword– and not be touched by the depth of humanity uncovered there. Everyone should read this book. It, along several others, should be part of a standardized 9/11 curriculum.

Next year, when 9/11 comes around again, I will have a new attitude, an attitude born of a compassionate, gentle people half a world away, who put the needs of others before their own, the Maasai of Kenya and their beloved 14 cows.

Posted by: Eileen


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Pam said,

    So you have a recipe for fake vegetable vomit and you are holding back on this? Please share in a future post. : )

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