The Cow Knew I Was a Rookie and Slapped Me in the Face

Posted on: May 6th, 2011 by Amy 3 Comments

We have been very busy today. I milked cows — which I have to say is not my forte. As I was milking with the Datogan women, the cow must have known I was a rookie and slapped me in the face with her tail! The Datogan women thought this was about the funniest thing they had ever seen! Then we went to Clan court. Now, Clan court is a gathering of all the men in the Clan that occurs when there has been what they call a “mistake.” A mistake is when a problem goes outside the family and needs to be mediated by the Clan. All the Clan’s men gather under a tree with tremendous protocal for proceeding. We were told no camera’s and I was the only woman allowed to be there, with permission of the Father of the family. The “mistake” was made by a young boy who is to be circumcised. His father had given him a cow that he was to sell in order to get honey; the honey was to be given to the boy’s father. (Honey in Datoga is very serious business.) But, the boy didn’t get the honey, therefore disrespecting the father and now the father is pissed off — and I mean pissed off! So angry that he took his son to court. Elder after elder in their shuka’s and sticks got up to either defend the boy or stand for the father. The Datogan’s are extremely animated when debating. Now, because the mistake went to the Clan, the Clan decides on the fine for punishment. One elder said the fine should be two cows. Another said the Clan should get two cows and the father should get one. Then the stakes went up to five cows for the Clan and two for the father. In the meantime, the boy is squirming because a single cow costs about $275.00. The fine is getting expensive. The boy looks worried and leaves the tree court. He comes back twenty minutes later with a five gallon bucket of honey.

The father goes crazy. “Now you bring me the honey? How dare you disrespect me!” Another elder stands up and wants to have the meeting stopped and do it tomorrow. Half of the men agree, because yesterday was the market day and they are tired and hung over. The boy gets up in an attempt to publicly apologize for his “mistake” and asks if his father would please take the honey.

The father’s brother then gets up and yells at the boy, “What do you think we are, drunks? You brought the honey for us to make honey beer to drink and forget? Take your honey. You are too late. We are not drunkards; you will pay a fine.” The court is still going on and we don’t know the outcome, but it wasn’t looking promising for the boy. Now we are off to meet with the Tanzanian Tourism Board, who are doing local training, and then back to the Datoga Boma (house).

3 Responses

  1. Hello Amy and Vance,
    I did not know you’re having such a great cultural adventure and fun till I read some of the text. And for the tail: Are you sure you were milking the female cow?
    Too bad my internet is not fast enough for me to hear that typical booming voice of Amy! It comes in cut, cut and cuts!
    Great to mention our training! Hope they will make good use of it.
    Keep up the Treasure Hunt!

  2. Jeff J Carl says:

    I will never take honey for granted again!I imagine the cows tail whipping has to be a touch better than accidentally getting whacked with a nappy dred from Vance’s locks. 😉 I am so happy to hear you two are well. It was great to see you at the airport before you left and I have been excited to follow along with your adventure. Please keep the posts coming and know that I am so jealous of the adventure you are on.

  3. Keith says:

    This was a good one Amy! I guess cows are sensitive and want to be touched the right way! I can imagine the look on your face when the cow’s tail swept the side of your face. I’m sure that was the cow’s sentiment was “Don’t take it personal, Its only business”! LOL.

    The Clan Court I’m sure was a great experience. Maybe we should learn from this and settle our differences here that way. Would save us a helluva lot of money and time.

    I’m loving these posts!
    Be safe!

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