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Toy boxes, silver rattles and the odd savings bond are all par for the course when celebrating the birth of a new baby.
Fortunately Prince George’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are equally delighted at the gift of a fatted calf and goat they received in honour of their son’s birth from tribesman in Kenya this month.
The couple have now formally accepted the present, considered a great honour in the local culture, and have even responded with a letter written in Swahili thanking the elders for their ‘extraordinary generosity.’
The gift of a fattened black bull and goat was made last week by the Samburu people of Kenya, whom William has spent much time with in recent years when staying on the Lewa wildlife conservancy at the foothills of Mount Kenya. He and his wife also got engaged nearby.
After discussions between the prince’s representatives and local cultural leaders, it has been agreed to use the bull to start a new ‘royal herd’.
There has, by all accounts, now been an offer of four heifers to go with the bull, and the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) have agreed to keep the animals on Lewa.
In a traditional Samburu ceremony to celebrate the birth of Prince George, elders blessed the animals while their womenfolk conducted traditional dances to celebrate the birth of a new born child.
British High Commissioner, Dr Christian Turner, even travelled to Wamba on Their Royal Highness’s behalf to be there for the ceremony.
In recognition of the honour, William sent the community a message of thanks, which read:
‘Kwa niaba ya kijana wetu, George, Catherine na Mimi ningependa kuwashukuru nyote sana sana kwa kujitolea kwenu, ukarimu wenu na pia kwa zawadi zenu.’
– Prince William
In translation it read: ‘On behalf of our son George, Catherine and I would like to thank you all so very much for the extraordinary honour and generosity of your gifts.’
The rest of the letter continued in English: ‘I remember my time with you, the Samburu, with immense happiness and I could not be more grateful to you all for this kindness.
It brings me great pride and joy to know that George’s ‘pension’ will be herded on a land that we love and care deeply for. We only hope that one day, he will be able to come and see them for himself.
‘Please accept our immense and deep thanks on this special occasion.
‘Asante [thank you].’
Cattle, which are used for milk not meat, are very important to Kenyan tribesman and the subject of mystical beliefs and reverence.
Mythology tells of a time when the earth and sky were joined together, until they were suddenly torn apart, with only the wild fig trees left as bridges between the two.
As a gift, God – called Enkai – sent herds of cattle down through these trees to earth.
Cattle are, therefore, sacred and a direct gift from the heavens.
Grass is also considered a blessing and sacred. When passing a fig tree, it is customary for tribesmen to push handfuls of grass between the roots, as homage to the source of their herds. One of the more common greetings is ‘I hope your cattle are well’.
– Daily Mail