14 Cows for America

by Carmen Agra Deedy, Thomas Gonzalez, and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a young Maasai man named Kimeli who had... read more

Following the events of September 11, 2001, a young Maasai man named Kimeli who had been studying in New York returns home to Kenya deeply affected by what happened. He relates the devastation he witnessed to his entire village. “With growing disbelief, men, women, and children listen. Buildings so tall they can touch the sky? Fires so hot they can melt iron?... The story ends. More than three thousand souls are lost. A great silence falls over the Maasai.” The people of his tribe want to do something for the people of America, and one by one villagers step forward to offer a cow—“To the Maasai… the cow is life.” The power of this remarkable, moving story lies ultimately in its truth, and an endnote from Kimeli Naiyomah—the Maasai man in the story—relates the events told with spare beauty by Carmen Agra Deedy in fuller, first-person detail. He writes that the fourteen cows, which will never be slaughtered, remain “a symbol of hope from the Maasai to their brothers and sisters in America.” (Ages 8–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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