A quick google search will come up with the following facts. Kitengela is a plain in Kenya, located south of capital Nairobi. The township begun as The Kitengela group ranch, made up of 18,292 ha and 214 registered members which was subdivided in 1988 in efforts by the Government to encourage private land ownership in pastoral systems, with the aim of intensifying and commercializing livestock production. After subdivision of the group ranch, land fragmentation and sales have continued at a steady and escalating pace.

 

Whatever else Maina Kageni tells or does not tell you in his breakfast show, never forget this: It is with this understanding that we the residents of Kitengela, Kajiado East Constituency, and Kajiado County embrace certain truths and realities. That the place we now call home was initially a ranch. That long before it became our home it was home to many, many cows and will always be.

 

So we made a conscious decision to co-exist harmoniously with our animal friends because we found them here. They did not find us. We are the intruders. The cows are everywhere and vary in number. Sometimes in large herds, at times in smaller groups of less than 10. Or sometimes just a lone bull breaking away from the herd without getting lost. You will find them in the major highway, outside the shops, at the market, or in your neighborhood. Do not be surprised if you don’t see a herdsman accompanying them. They move alone at an unhurried pace. They know their way. Nobody knows where they spend their nights. Or who leads them home. Once in a while you will see a small boy or a youth accompanying them. But they are always in the shadows.

 

Motorists here learnt long ago that cows have the right of way. Those who don’t soon find out the hard way; because it is not until you hit a Maasai cow that you understand the full extent of your crime. It will cost you. That young herd boy will apprise you the way a motorist does when you hit his car from behind. Only he will not be agitated; not even irritated. He will be calm and composed as he points out what should be rather obvious to you. And without involving the police or the insurance, he will patiently list out how much you owe him in damages. You will realize to your consternation, the cow whose life you have just cut short was expecting a calf and many other calves in years to come. So would you please make that compensation? He tells you with a tone that does not leave any room for argument. It is pretty much like a lone dowry negotiation. No negotiation skills will get you out of this one motorists be warned.

 

We brush shoulders with cows here, most of the time untended, yet not even the most daring thief has ever gotten ideas. Not in the cover of darkness, not in the stinging rain, not in the hush of the evening or in overcast skies on a cold and bitter day. Nobody steals cows here. And nobody harms them even when they stray into your space. You will be mildly irritated yes, but will shoo them off gently though firmly like an indulgent parent.

Here we let cows be.

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