Today, in a solemn ceremony in a grassy clearing, they did, blessing 14 cows being given to the people of the United States. Elders chanted in Maa as they walked around the cows, animals held sacred by the Masai (often spelled Maasai). After the blessing, the cows were handed over to William Brancick, the deputy chief of mission of the United States Embassy in Nairobi.
"This is an insult, not just to this village but also to the government of Kenya. There is a process he should follow, he needs permission and we Masai must also accept him.
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''That guy -- surely we would have to kill him,'' Mr. Oltetia, the village's chief warrior, said of Osama bin Laden. ''We as the Masai have ways to kill, just using a spear and bows and arrows.''
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Mr. Naiyomah, a student at Stanford University, helped to arrange the gift after seeing his people's reaction to his account. He used his connections to plan the roundup and contact embassy officials. His rise from Masai land to Palo Alto had enabled him to rub shoulders with everyone from President Daniel arap Moi to Chelsea Clinton, who met Mr. Naiyomah with her parents last year when she graduated from Stanford.
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The Masai, who wear bright red tunics and elaborate multicolored jewelry, stand out among Kenya's 40 tribes for the high leaps of their traditional dances. During ceremonies, they drink the blood of the cow, mixing it with honey beer, and they use every last inch of the animal for clothing and decorations. A groom pays the father of a girl he wants to marry in cows, and even dung is put to use, as a lacquer to protect the outside of huts.
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To reach Enoosaen, Mr. Brancick had flown to the Masai Mara Game Preserve, then driven two hours along the most rugged of roads. At the ceremony, he seemed tentative as he held a rope given to him by a Maasai elder that was attached to a rambunctious bull. He thanked the people who had given cows from their herds. But, he said, transporting them would be difficult so he will probably sell the cows and buy Masai jewelry to give to America.
Maasai, also spelled Masai, nomadic pastoralists of East Africa
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Jully Ole Melle, who is the head man of Oldonyo Onyokie, said that not even fellow Masai were allowed to move to the village without a major tribal discussion first, involving up to 1,000 people.