Facing the Lion
In 2003, Joseph Lekuton published a memoir through National Geographic called Facing the Lion. In this excerpt, Lekuton describes what happens when he returns home for a visit, after teaching for two years in the United States, and gives his mother the most valuable gift she could imagine: eight cows from Ethiopia.
The cows up there were a good breed. They were more drought resistant and gave more milk than our cows. I thought that they would be the perfect present for my mom -- not only for her, but for the whole community. There would be more milk for everybody, and the new cattle would improve our breeding stock. So we went up there and bought the cows. We arranged for transportation, and then we drove home. I never said a word to my mom, so she wasn't expecting anything.
The cows arrived about a week later. I made sure that they were brought to the village early in the morning. Mornings are regarded as a blessing. As the sun was coming up, I brought the cows into the kraal, one by one, eight of them. I said to my mom, "This is a gift for you. What you've done for me has been incredible. You've supported me my whole life, through all the tough decisions to allow me to stay in school. When people wanted me to drop out, you made me stay. So this is your gift. Come and see your cows." She couldn't believe it! She couldn't say a word. She just went and looked at them, touched them.
It was time for the cattle to go out and graze, so the new cows went out with the rest of the herd. When they came back that evening, Mom went out and looked at them again, and that night she woke up many times to go out to be with them. What she was doing was naming them. In the morning, she took me out and told me their name -- "This is so-and-so, this is so-and-so, this is so-and-so." She was very happy -- I knew it was going to make her happy, but I didn't know how happy. And now the kids in the village are saying, "I'll to go to school to buy cows for my mom, like Lekuton did." It's been very good.
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