Cattle Pushers & The Modern World

I was watching this video below of a so called cattle pusher and I couldn’t believe what I was watching.  So, these cattle pushers act as transporters for people in Nairobi who own slaughter houses.  The slaughter house owners gets in touch with the market that sells cows, once the owners have paid for their cows, the so called “cattle pusher” then walks (yes, walks) the bought cows all the way to Nairobi.  I think in the video it says it will take the cattle pushers about 25 hours of walking before he finally gets to Nairobi.

Now, this video was unbelievable to me because I couldn’t figure out why the slaughter house owners won’t just rent a lorry and have the cows driven to Nairobi in half the amount of time.  Why on earth would you hire a guy to walk through the rain with a bunch of cows in places that have thugs lurking a night (& thus, run the risk of losing all your cows and investment) when you could rent a lorry and get the cows to your destination quickly?

Prior to watching this video, I had just finished listening to an interview the Lee Kuan Yew (the former Prime Minister of Singapore ) gave and in that interview, Yew, essentially said that countries today are going to have to confront the problems of the modern world, which are jobs and growth.  If they don’t confront these twin problems, they’ll be in trouble.  

The comments on the video (which can be viewed on youtube) were even more astounding to me. I think there was one comment that talked about how resilient these cattle pushers were and another thought it was amazing. I thought it was utterly inefficient and odd.

Some countries are not going to be making microchips or cell phones anytime soon….

7 comments for “Cattle Pushers & The Modern World

  1. Julius
    June 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Its all about the cost and convenience. Time is not important here coz there is no emergency. The slaughter house owners have already factored the 25 hour delay in their operations. The cattle pusher will cost less than a lorry and they are pretty reliable. Again, a lorry transporter will be subject to scrutiny by security and veterinary officer to ascertain ownership and health of animals. Nobody will stop a cattle pusher to question ownership and health of animals. If you transport by lorry, you have to part with bribes to avoid problems with the police and veterinary officers.

  2. james
    June 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

    i sincerely sympathise

  3. Godfrey
    May 31, 2011 at 2:14 am

    The issue of time may not be as important in Kenya as it is in the west. Another factor is the abundance of cheap labour: as unbelievable as it may sound, it may actually be cheaper to pay the cattle pusher than to hire a lorry. Just think of it this way: how many Kenyans would be willing to walk a herd of cattle for 25 hours at, let say, 7,000 shillings? A job like that could have plenty of takers!

  4. Mr. Majani
    May 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    @KE there are some Kenyans with deep-seated trust issues. That is usually the case when you see them making these bone-headed decisions. Perhaps these cattle ranchers do not trust the lorry drivers to ferry the cattle safely, since it takes only one lorry driver to run off with about 20 cows.

  5. kenyanentrepreneur
    May 28, 2011 at 11:55 am


    So, your saying that since oil prices are high today, walking the cows for 25 hours is more efficient than using a lorry? Did you factor in the time issue? i.e. If he used a lorry maybe he would have been able to get more cows, more quickly into that slaughter house and sell more meat. Time is money. Isn’t the goal today to try and do more things in as little time as possible because it leads to higher productivity levels?

    Where does this guy even sleep? And it was raining and he didn’t even have an umbrella. I don’t think he can sleep because what if the cows wander off? It was all quite strange to me.

  6. Chiron
    May 28, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Countries develop by the application of new technologies, whether that technology be the wheel or whatever else.

    When on sees a society willing refusing to embrace technology, even going so far as to admire such “resilience” of the cattle pusher, then you know they’re in trouble. Deep trouble.

  7. Afrowave
    May 28, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Think of it this way, before lorries and tarmac came, the Maa people would move cattle from Uasin Ngishu to Kwale if need be. ‘Mordernity’ has found this happening.

    As a cycling tour guide on the “Old Road” between Ngong’ and Naivasha, this road is relatively safe.

    And there is the small issue of cost. What do you think it would cost to transport 60 head of cattle with lorries at today’s oil “price hike” prices?

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