A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky: Part one


Over the next several posts we will be sharing the true story of a donkey named Lucky, and his near death experiences while working to keep his owner alive. We hope you will enjoy his many adventures! Let us begin…

In the centre of Southern Africa is a country called Zimbabwe with two major cities; Harare and Bulawayo. Four hundred and fifty kilometres separates these cities, and to drive between the two requires about five and a half hours of travel along disheveled roads covered in pot holes.

Lucky’s story takes place in a small village not far from the South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe borders. A place from which, on a clear day, you can stand on a hill at the outskirts and see the wide open space of Botswana to your right, the hills and mountains of South Africa to your left.

Zimbabwe is separated from the two countries by the Shashe river, a river that with decent summer rainfall can be over two meters deep and half a kilometer wide, before it meets and flows into the great mighty Limpopo. In winter the Shashe is dry, and wild animals must dig deep into the river bed to find water.

There has been a drought for over ten years in this area. The grass has become so scarce animals must travel far to find food. Wide open areas reaching into the distance, and ground so bare you can almost see your reflection. A few weeds here and there, so bitter none of the animals will eat them. Sun so hot that by ten in the morning you are desperately seeking shade in a place where even the trees offer little solace. It was only 30 years ago that grass grew and trees were like umbrellas.

To reach the village one must navigate ninety kilometres of corrugated road.

Most people in these rural areas don’t have cars or even a bicycle, as it is difficult to pedal through the thick sand. Many use donkeys to pull a cart. Each day the donkeys are caught, fitted with a crude harness and bridle, and hitched to a cart which is usually made from old car parts and whatever scrap metal can be found. The donkeys pull the cart to fetch water, then stand in the hot sun while their owner gathers wood to load onto the cart and take home, so dinner can be cooked on an open fire.

People ride in the cart and to do their shopping, or go to the clinic when they get sick.

This story is about a little donkey named Lucky who was born in this village. He tells of his experiences growing up, his early years of learning what his job will be, and how he copes with the changing seasons and extreme weather conditions.

From here on, Lucky will be the narrator, and we hope you will love his story as much as we do!

Lucky’s story – Part one

I will try to explain my thoughts and feelings as I was growing up. I have to start from the beginning and of course, that will begin with my mum.

One day a donkey mare had been grazing and had not noticed how far she had walked from her village. She’d been in search of grass to eat, but there had been a drought for many years and food was hard to find. She was in foal and was eating for her and the foal that was still in her belly. She’d been due to give birth a week ago but had been holding on in hopes that the rains would come and the grass would grow. Donkeys can hold on without giving birth for up to a month, it’s nature’s way of helping them survive in arid areas.

As daylight was coming to an end, and the African sky transformed to glorious shades of red and orange, the mare felt her foal was ready to enter the world. She could not hold on any longer. It was too far to go back to the village, so she found shelter beneath thorn bushes and lay down on the soft sand. Just as she was beginning to give birth, she heard the sound of hyenas.

They could smell her, and their nostrils flared in anticipation.

The mare’s body tensed and fear washed over her. For twelve months she’d carried this foal; how could it all come to an end now? She felt her foal easing its way out of the safe cocoon of her belly, just as she saw the first hyena. One, then two, then more, came into sight. Menacingly edging closer, with wicked grins on their faces.

Just as she thought it was all over a young muscular man burst through the bushes, waving his arms madly above his head and shouting at the top of his voice. It was her owner, who was so worried when night had drawn closer and she was not at home that he’d gone out looking for her. As he’d searched for her, he’d heard the scuffle of the hyena and caught a whiff of their rotten stench.

Alarmed at his sudden appearance, the hyena fled, along with their hopes of a tasty dinner.

The owner stood at his donkey’s side, amazed to see a me, a colt, standing next to her. The owner waited for a while until I could drink some of mum’s milk, then we all set off home in the moonlight under the African stars.

It was a long trek back, and every ten minutes we would stop so I could have more milk. By the time we reached the village it was very late, and we were all very weary.

The owner took us to a resting place, and left us for the night. As I curled up on the dusty ground mum’s warm muzzle nuzzled me. She was forever grateful to the owner who had risked so much to bring us home.

Part two is coming soon! If you are enjoying my story, please share it!


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