How many cows are YOU worth?

How many cows are YOU worth?

A few months back I heard a supposedly true story, it goes something like this…

In a certain part of Africa marriages are arranged by young men coming to a prospective wife’s father and negotiating the purchase of a bride. The bride price is most often paid in cows. Based on the worth of the girl in question the price may range from 1 to 10 cows, the more worthy the girl, the more cows are offered. In a small village there lived a father with a very ugly daughter. He despaired because he felt his chances of getting a good bridal price for his daughter was slim to none, he felt he would be lucky to get a chicken, no less a cow! (NOTE: I’m not condoning this practice, simply relating a story) One day, much to the father’s surprise, a young man showed up at his door and asked to negotiate with him the bride price for his ugly daughter (I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually say that though). The father tried not to appear too surprised and ushered the man in. Almost afraid of the answer, the father sheepishly (no pun intended) asked, “How many cows are you willing to offer for my daughter?” To the father’s shock and utter (or should I say udder) amazement (sorry, that time I couldn’t help myself) the young man said, “Sir, I would like to offer you 10 cows for your only daughter.” The father was dumbfounded, but not wanting to miss his one chance to make some cows off this girl, immediately accepted and pushed for a hasty wedding. So the price was paid, the couple married, and life went on.  As the months went by, the young couple did very well. They always seemed happy, never fought, it was obvious to everyone around that they were truly in love. The strangest thing of all was that almost over night the girl didn’t seem quite so ugly, she was recognized as highly skilled in many areas, and the man quickly became the envy of all the other men in the village. After a while the man’s now father-in-law came to him and asked him the question he had been wondering. “Son, you knew when you came to my home and asked to marry my daughter that she was known to be the ugliest daughter in the village, yet you paid the highest price for her. Why did you do it, you know I would have been happy with one cow, or even a chicken for that matter!” The son, saddened by his father-in-law’s view of his precious wife, said without hesitation, “I always wanted to say I married a 10 cow wife, so I did.”

This man understood the concept of intrinsic value. Intrinsic or fundamental value looks at the value of an object, security, investment, or in this case, person has in and of itself. Intrinsic value is not based necessarily on the current going rate of the market and as such does not vary but rather stays constant. The young man in the story invested into a woman her intrinsic value, the highest price that could be paid. Because of this he treated her with great care and esteem. Her response to being cherished in this way was such that she soon became everything he had ever hoped for and more.

Is it possible that we can ever know someone’s true worth? Can we ever predict with perfect accuracy someone else’s potential? We look at the people around us and base our evaluation of them on what we can see. But people are so much more that their appearance, their actions, or even their ideas. Often the people themselves have no idea of their full potential. The key to the above story is this, it didn’t matter to the young man what others thought his potential bride was worth, he was willing to pay her true worth. More to come.




  1. Abbie, I have been to places like this. Once a man offered his sister to me for 17 camels. =)

    1. Aww man Tim that is crazy! So did you take him up on it? Haha, just kidding! Thanks for checking out my site! - Abbie

  2. The story references Johnny Lingo, and Mahana, who went for 8 cows over the ludicrous offer of 3 from her father, who inflated the number of cows from the one cow they thought he would be lucky to get at all. 8 cows, the village felt, was far more than she was worth. After he gives her a life of esteem and love and values not material, and something to do with a mirror for her to see her true beauty, the father says he was cheated, and that his daughter was worth 10 cows.

    I am basing my refreshed knowledge of this from the highly credible Wikipedia.

    I saw this movie as a kid in elementary school.