Listening to the Poor

In 1896, Lord Delamere saw central Kenya for the first time. He immediately fell in love.

Lord Delamere had been to Africa before. As an avid hunter, he had taken yearly hunting trips to Somaliand. During one hunt, Delamere was attacked and mauled by a lion. His Somali gunbearer dove on the lion, giving Delamere enough time to make use of his rifle and escape with his life. Delamere gained a new level of respect and admiration for Somalis.

After seeing central Kenya, Delamere applied for a land grant, purchased a ranch, and moved to the north of Nakuru. He grew in his passion for the land and for the Maasi people. Over the course of the next 20 years, Delamere became known as an pioneer for Kenyan agriculture and the East African dairy industry. His constant experimenting with crops led to many breakthroughs that shaped the future.

Many of Delamere’s experiments also failed. Most took years to be profitable. Challenges aside, there was at least one lesson he learned in a harder way than needed.

Delamere was baffled how northern Kenya could have such lush, green grass fields, but the Maasi people weren’t using them to feed their cattle. Certainly he had discovered an untapped resource.

Lord Delamere began importing British cattle, spending a fortune. The truth was quickly discovered.

In “Walking With The Poor,” Bryant Myers says, “The grass in that particular part of the Rift Valley lacks a key nutrient that results in poor milk production, resulting in the death of most calves. This, of course, was something that every Maasi boy knew but was never asked.”

Our good intentions, cleverness, and hard work aren’t enough. We must listen.

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