It is hard to explain how big a deal cattle are to the Fulbe people. Maybe this will help. When you are greeting a male pullo (an individual Fulbe person) you will ask him how his cattle are, how his home is, how his wife and children are . . . in that order. Cattle come before all else, because they are a pullo’s source of wealth and life. Without cattle a pullo feels as though he is no longer a part of the Fulbe people.
Thus it was that when we were in Nigeria I determined to buy myself at least one cow. This cow would help me identify with the Fulbe; as it increased in value it would help with travel expenses; and it would provide another link to the people I am partnered with. On the other side, it would provide milk for the community, a kind of status, and give employment to a shepherd. (In another post I will explain the situation of our partners, and why status for the community and employment for a shepherd would be an issue.)
So a friend of mine agreed to help me buy a cow – and he did a wonderful job. We got a “father-son” deal, since he bought the cow from his father at a really good price. Not only so, but the cow was already pregnant, so it was a 2 for 1 deal.
In Fulbe culture naming a cow is a big deal as well. After much thought I decided on Barka for my cow’s name. Barka means “blessing” and I am blessed to have a cow as good as this one. She has given me a couple of good female calves, as well as a bull calf already. And now – just today – she has given birth to another healthy female calf. God has indeed blessed!