A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky part 10 – Back leg is healing

It was a long and difficult path to our village and my friend and I stopped every few minutes to rest. Her eyes, which were usually so bright and happy, were dulled by pain, and blood from the gnash on her nose caked her neck and chest. I couldn’t feel my hoof at all, but I could sure feel the stabbing pains that shot up my leg.  

Back at our village both my friend and I were put in my pen while my owner ran off in search of someone to help him treat our snare wounds. He returned with my friend’s owner and together they gently washed her nose. She started to feel a bit better, until they put salt into the wound to kill germs. Tears rolled down her face.

By now many people had gathered to see what had happened to us. A couple of them took hold of my head and neck and twisted it round so I fell onto my side with a thud. Two large men then sat on me while my owner used a large pair of wire cutters to slowly remove the wire from my leg. It was agony at first, but as the blood started to flow back into my hoof it stopped hurting. My hoof was another matter – I thought it was going to explode!

I struggled to get up but couldn’t get the person that was sitting on my head off! I forced myself to relax and listened to my owner talking. He was saying how lucky I was the wire hadn’t cut through anything important and that with rest my leg would heal. I felt relieved, though it still hurt like hell, especially when he washed it with a cloth soaked in salt water.

For several day after that my owner changed the dressing on my wound twice a day, and my friend stayed with me till her nose healed. I was glad of her company, and we would spend our days talking about our lives, and what we would do when we were healed. I realised just how adventurous my life had been so far, and how lucky I was to have the owner I have.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of these adventures. These blogs will take a pause for a while as the kind man and lady who helped me at the beginning are putting them into a book! Fancy that – a book about me! A donkey from Zimbabwe!

I am sure I will have many more stories to share with you soon.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky part 9 – Caught in a snare

This part of my story begins at the riverbank, where I was grazing on dry stalks with some of my donkey friends. My owner was snoozing beneath a tree, leaving us to our own devices. There was so little grass we could barely find a mouthful. Frustrated and hungry, we moved along the bank seeking more. After a while we arrived at a place where the river narrowed, and we paused to look across at the long brown grass which stretched into the distance beneath scattered bushes and the occasional tree. We didn’t need convincing. In a few strides we were there, and oh boy did it feel good to get a full mouthful of food at last! But our joy was short lived.

The sound of men’s voices seemed to come from nowhere. I lifted my head and snorted loudly to warn my friends. As the voices grew louder, we trotted towards a group of bushes and hid, watching warily as a large group of men gathered by the edge of the river. They were carrying things made of metal and wire and were putting them in the sand. It seemed they were tying things to the grass as well.

It felt as though they were there forever, but eventually they finished their task and walked back the way they had come. As they did, I caught a glimpse of a dead animal under one of the men’s arms. They were laughing, joking amongst themselves and patting each other on the back.

As soon as they were out of sight we came out of hiding, curious to see what they had been doing. Strangely, we found the sand undisturbed and the grass as straight as ever, so we lowered our heads and continued to eat.

Suddenly there was a snapping sound, followed by a donkey’s scream. I’d never heard anything like it in my life! I spun on my heels and leapt forwards into a gallop, closely followed by my friends. I thought we’d be out of there in a flash, but something caught on my back leg. I kicked out, hoping to free myself, however whatever it was only tightened its grip and slowed me down.  

My owner, wakened by the sound of thundering hooves, came rushing towards us. I swerved to avoid knocking him down and ground to a halt. My friends stopped with me, and we stood, sides heaving from running with full bellies. It was then that I noticed blood dripping from one of my friend’s noses. I looked more closely and to my horror saw part of her nose was missing! No wonder she had screamed in pain!

My owner came over to me and ran his hands gently over my stressed and sweaty body, slowly making his way towards my hind leg which by now was aching. I turned my head and saw a wire noose just above my fetlock. Blood oozed around it, but the strange thing was I couldn’t feel my hoof.

Softly whispering words of encouragement, my owner wrapped his arm over my neck and began to walk me home. My poor friend walked next to me, and we all began the slow and painful journey back.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky part 8 – In search of food

As the day progressed the villagers realized there was little they could do
to make things the way they were before the big wind. Sheets of roofing lay scattered. Uprooted trees covered paths, and bushes which once held food were stripped bare.

I looked at the sand outside my pen, which stretched into the distance, and wondered what on earth I could eat. I was desperate for a nibble of something.

It was not till afternoon that my owner realized that I had not eaten or drunk. He came to get me and together we walked along a sandy path. He explained he had forgotten the time as he had been so busy helping others who had lost everything. He was so sorry he had forgotten to care for me, and he rested his arm on my neck as we made our way out of the village. We had been walking for over an hour when I saw some trees up ahead. When we reached them I caught the scent of water. Looking around, I noticed seed pods on the bushes, and several green leaves. We sped up, and in minutes had reached a dry river bed.

We looked around and noticed some people had dug holes in it so that under ground water could seep up, and there at the bottom of the holes was the water I desperately needed. I wanted to dive in, but remembering the last time I had tried to go into a hole to drink I changed my mind and stood waiting for my owner to help. He found an old plastic bucket and lowered it into one of the larger holes so he could scoop up water for me. Once I had drunk, he left me to wander round the nearby bushes picking seedpods while he lay on the sand. It wasn’t long before he fell fast asleep.

Feeling energized by the seedpods, I grew bolder. There was lots of grass on the other side of the river bed and my mouth watered. As I contemplated eating it I saw another donkey was already there, head down munching. Surely it would be fine if I did the same?

What I didn’t know was that the river was a border between two countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and that I was not permitted to cross into Botswana without a permit, (whatever that was).

I couldn’t resist. The grass was thick and lush, and I was sure my owner wouldn’t wake while I was gone. So I trotted across the dry river bed. Boy oh boy did the grass taste good! I buried my nose in it and packed my mouth with as much as I could get in. My hooves sank into it’s softness – it was as though I were walking on a cloud! I ate and ate until my belly was so full it started to hurt. So I rested beneath a tree and closed my eyes.

“Lucky, Lucky!” The sound of my owners panicked call woke me. I shook my head and trotted towards the river bed, which was much further away than I realized. Just then I heard a loud crack, more like a bang, and something hot tore the skin on my right hind leg. It burnt so badly I broke into a gallop and sped through the tall grass till I reached the river bed. As I jumped into the sand there was another bang, and a whistling sound above my head. I struggled through the thick sand, desperate to get to my owner. With one final leap I made it to the other side.

My heart was pounding and I paused to catch my breath. But where was my owner? I couldn’t see him anywhere, though I could clearly hear his voice. I spun around trying to figure out which direction it was coming from.

I spotted a figure on the side of the bank I had come from – was that him? No, it wasn’t. It was someone else and this man was holding a long piece of wood. He put the piece of wood to his shoulder and yet another bang rang out. In a split second the other donkey which I’d seen earlier came flying out of some trees, then fell to it’s knees and didn’t move.

Just then my owner appeared at my side, grabbed my mane and pulled me behind some bushes. He stroked my neck and said how lucky I was to be alive. He spoke softly as he ran his hands over my hind leg, assessing the place where something hot had torn into me. Satisfied that it wasn’t too bad, he began to walk me to our village.

As we made our way back he told me the man with a long stick was a soldier
from Botswana and that soldiers didn’t like donkeys to go onto their land. They would shoot us dead if we were caught.

When we arrived back at our village my owner put something cold and wet on my bullet would. He told me how relieved he was that I was OK, unlike the other donkey.
It had been quite a day and as I settled myself for the night I felt so much gratitude for my owner whom I was so lucky to have.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky – A Tornado comes to the village

The drought was so severe that each day when we went to get water or gather wood, we’d see another dead donkey or cow. Despite flooding in other parts of the country, it was a dust bowl where I lived. Farmers cried as their crops withered, some chose to delay planting, desperately hoping they could time it with late rainfall. But there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

One day, as I stood in my small pen next to my owner’s house, the wind picked up. It started slowly, then grew stronger and whistled through the trees. In the distance baboons leapt from branches and scattered across the ground. My body tensed. In what felt like seconds, the wind went from whistling through the trees to tearing metal off roofs. Screams echoed above the roaring gale, and the calls of terrified animals chilled me to the bone. The sky was filled with flying objects. Pieces of wood crashed around me, and windows blew out of houses.

I lay in swirling dust and cried. How could wind destroy everything? Pick up chickens as though they were feathers, and tear down homes. I waited for my turn to come.

After what seemed like eternity it stopped. It was as though a switch had been flicked – there wasn’t even a breath of air! I rose shakily to me feet, listening to shouting and crying as people came out of hiding to assess the devastation. Chicken houses with no roofs, windowless homes and fallen fences. No one slept that night, fearing the wind would return.

My weary eyes opened slowly as the sun rose. Everything looked strange. The sky which would normally have been lit up with clear shades of orange and yellow, was hazy and dull.

I staggered over to the edge of my pen. All around I saw the damage from the day before. I heard some of the people talk of a tornado that had come, and realized that’s what the crazy wind must have been. They said that there was no electricity in a nearby shop because the wind had snapped the poles clean in two!

The people walked around just shaking their heads. Some had gone to try and find their animals, and I could hear donkeys calling from far away. Had they been picked up by the wind as I had feared I was going to be? Perhaps they had seized their chance to run away from abusive owners.

It would take years to repair the damage the tornado had done, and I would do all I could to help my owner. I was so grateful to have him there to look after me.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky – Long lonely nights

Red, orange, and yellow danced. The fire burned brightly, spitting out occasional fragments of wood which my owner pushed back in so no -one stood on them. He talked with his family about their day as they ate their dinner, and I listened happily. Warm and content, I dozed off, woken intermittently by laughter or the sound of another log being thrown on the fire.

Hours passed and the logs burnt down. My owner and his family were ready to sleep, and as they slipped away to their house, I found myself alone beneath the wide African sky with its sparkling stars and bright full moon. I wasn’t tired anymore and for a while I simply listened to the call of a distant owl. My mind began to wander, and I found myself thinking of mum and some of the lessons she had taught me. She always said that in life we never stop learning, and that mistakes are an opportunity to discover something new, even if it’s simply how not to do something!

I began to reflect on my adventures, and what I had learnt from them. I remembered the men who had taken me and mum from my owner, and it occurred to me that what they had really needed was help. They didn’t know any better. They couldn’t see when we were sore. In fact, many humans can’t see what we are really going through. They don’t see the stones in our hooves or realise the pain a whip can inflict.

That some days we don’t feel well yet are made to work and pull a weight far bigger than we are. Made to run without stopping for a drink. They do not see how the wire that holds the heavy wooden shaft pulls unevenly on our skin, at times cutting into our flesh which, if left untreated, festers and rots. How we often travel far for food at night after a full day’s work, rarely finding more than a seed pod and some muddy old water.

But I remember mum would say that not all humans have no understanding. That
there are some who really love us donkeys and understand we try our very best to help them.

These are the ones who appreciate how we help them carry water and firewood. Take the old or sick to the clinic so they can get better.

Yet there are those that go down to the bar at least once a week and expect us to stand outside they get drunk, only to race us home late at night. It’s as well we know our way home because on these nights, we have to gallop so fast even their whips do not hit their mark the people are so drunk.

Mum was a wise donkey, and I wonder what life would have been like for me had she not taught me so much?

I am lucky for many reasons. I have such a caring and understanding owner. My mum lived long enough to be able to teach me so that I can be a better donkey. Not all donkeys have that – some grow up without parents.

I am lucky there are kind people like those that found me when I fell into that water drum and helped me to get out and recover.

But most of all I am lucky to have a chance to tell my stories and that someone will listen.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky part five – Lucky reunites

Hello and welcome to part five of my story!

Love, food and water saw my strength return and my wounds heal. I was feeling like my old self again, though I missed mum so much. I wasn’t sure what the future held, until one morning my master arrived and told me it was time to go home.

I felt incredibly sad to be leaving the lady and man who had been so kind to me. As my owner and I walked down the dusty road I kept stopping to look back. They stood with tears rolling down their cheeks, waving to me. I knew how they felt for I cried every day after losing mum.

We arrived home and I settled back into my life, but so much had happened. I had become a celebrity and all the people in nearby villages knew who I was. Often passers by would stop to pat my neck, hoping it would bring them good luck!

My owner kept me close, cutting grass, collecting seed pods, and going to the well to get water. Before long a strong and beautiful friendship had developed between us. He would talk to me about his life, and it was comforting to have his company. Each day he’d brush me, clean my hooves and wipe the dust from my eyes. I was grateful to the lady and man for teaching him to do this!

My owner was so proud when we walked past anyone on the road, people would stop to talk to us and of course pat my neck! It was new to me to experience a village person pat a donkey.

I must say we made a stunning pair! My coat all shiny from being groomed and my
owner walking proudly by my side. I was definitely the biggest donkey in the world, a world which stretched to a few miles in each direction from the village. I liked it this way – I’d seen what lay beyond when those bad men had taken me and it was safer not to venture far.

Because I was my master’s only donkey I had to work twice as hard to keep up with everything. Days became longer because of this and there was little time to do nothing.

Before long it started to get colder, and my hair thickened to help me stay warm at night. My master and I spent our spare time collecting wood for the winter pile next to the house, which would ensure he could cook and stay warm.

The sun set earlier, and evenings saw the sky transform. It was as though it was on fire with flames of orange and red. It scared me a little – I didn’t understand how it shifted so suddenly from clear blue to this. Then all of a sudden it would be dark, and soft moonlight spilt over the land. I’d stand close to the warm fire, grateful for it’s heat, and be comforted by the sound of my master’s voice as he spoke with other villagers. My mind would wander back to mum, and to the kind lady and man who had saved me.

A feeling of comfort spread through me when I thought of how they were helping other donkeys by teaching their owners how to care for them.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky part four – Counting my Blessings

Thank you for joining me for part four, where I discover that hidden in every struggle, is a blessing.

I trotted beneath the setting sun, energized by the smell of water. After a short time, I came to a massive hole in the riverbed which had been dug by nearby villagers. I went close to the edge and peered in. There was a metal drum inside, with no top or bottom. From what I could see this allowed water to seep in, so the people from the village could collect it.

I inched closer, overwhelmed by thirst. But the sand was like quicksand, and I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper, until it was almost up to my belly! Frightened, I tried to turn, but the sand was loose, and my hind legs fell into the drum. Deeper and deeper, I sank until my front legs hooked over the top of the drum.

My whole body tensed, and I tried to bray, but nothing came out. My ribs stung, and I struggled to breathe.

What felt like an eternity passed. Darkness fell and there was nothing but starlight, the occasional hoot of an owl, and endless pain. I drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of mum and happy times with our owner.

At last, the sun rose over the horizon. By this stage though I could barely move a muscle and my back ached so much!

Suddenly, I heard something close, and moments later a man peered into the hole. Well, you can just imagine the look on his face when he saw a donkey stuck in the drum! For a minute he stood with his mouth open, eyes as wide as my feed bowl. Then he dropped his bucket, which nearly hit me, turned, and ran off! I tried to call out to him, but still nothing came out.

I was in luck though, for a while later a group of people from the village arrived carrying ropes. They tied one rope round my neck and the men standing at the top of the hole started to pull. But my body didn’t budge. Only a loud screech came from me, at the pain from my broken ribs. At least I had my voice back! The men realized they were getting them nowhere, so they sent some of the others to get more help.

A man and a lady arrived, and they organized and explained what should be done. Three strong men grasped my front legs, the others with ropes started to pull, and eventually I was hauled out and I lay in a crumpled heap.

I wished I could wake up. Have mum lick my face and tell me this was all a bad dream.

I gulped, and as I looked around me, I had to accept this wasn’t a dream and mum wouldn’t be coming back.

Most of the people had to get on with their days work as the sun was high in the sky and it was getting hotter by the minute. Fortunately, the lady stayed to look after me. She knelt next to me with a small bucket and encouraged me to raise my head and take a few sips. I wasn’t allowed to have too much, in case my tummy got sore.

Her soft voice comforted me, and after a while I managed to stand up. I took a few shaky steps, then sipped more water. A child from the village gathered seed pods and fed them to me. Though I was still in a lot of pain, I began to feel a sense of hope again. The kind lady led me slowly to a safe place where she and the man with her were staying, and this became my home for a while.

After a few days of food, water, and tender loving care, I was on the
road to recovery. My ribs were still very sore though, and the bruising would take time to heal.

I learnt that the lady and man were visitors to the area. They were teachers too and were helping the local people learn how to care for their donkeys.

They took photos of me and showed them to nearby villagers, seeing if they could find my owner.

In a village just a few kilometres away, a young man was quite beside himself
because he had lost his two donkeys. He heard the lady and man were asking if anyone had lost a donkey, and his hopes rose. It was worth a shot! He went to visit the lady and man to see.

When he saw me, an enormous smile spread across his face. I let out a loud bray and stumbled over to him as fast as I could. He rubbed his hand on my nose, so happy to have found one of his donkeys. I felt sad he would never know what happened to mum. Oh, how I missed her!

I stayed with the lady and the man for a few more days until they were sure I would make a full recovery. Every day my owner brought food and was taught animal care.

When they found me in the drum, the lady and man said I was lucky and my story travelled fast – I was the lucky donkey who had been pulled out of the well.

Boy oh boy was I pleased when my owner changed my name. I was Lucky, the famous donkey. How proud mum would have been.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky Part three – A thief in the night

It’s time for part three of my story. This part was hard to write, but it is said that beginnings can only come from endings, and that life has many chapters.

I was big for a village donkey. Food and nourishment from my owner helped my muscles develop, and I looked much older than eighteen months.

The drought was getting worse. Heavy rains hadn’t fallen for years, and
younger donkeys didn’t even know what a storm was. The people were hungry, food expensive, and jobs scarce. Most school leavers couldn’t find work and questioned why their parents had even bothered paying to send them. Reading and writing got them nowhere.

Crime was high. People stole food and other things to sell, and there were some strange people who had visited nearby villages offering to pay money if a donkey was stolen and brought to them. So many donkeys went missing! At first it was thought wild animals were eating them (hyena’s!), but there was no evidence. No drops of blood or footprints in the sand.

Then one evening, dark scary clouds gathered round the setting sun, and we knew the moment we had been waiting for had come. I left mum for a bit to watch the approaching storm and listen to the growling thunder. There was the odd jab of lightening, and the wind picked up. I saw mum turn away from it and brace herself in preparation, so I did the same. I stood stock still as the thunder grew louder. Soon I could hear nothing else. It felt like it was just me, thunder, and whipping wind.

He took advantage of the noise and slipped the rope round my neck so fast I barely knew what had happened; until he started to pull. I pulled back, turning quickly to see where mum was and there she stood, with a rope round her neck too and another man yanking.

The whip the third man held cut into my skin, burning like fire. I leapt forwards, calling out to mum, but it was no use.

On and on through the stormy night we were made to run as the sky continued to roar and dust stung my eyes. I fell to my knees often, scared and exhausted. Rocks sharp as nails dug into my skin, and I felt warm liquid trickle down my legs.

The night seemed endless, and I thought we’d be running forever. But at last the sun began to rise and the storm faded.

We found ourselves in a clearing amongst some thorn bushes. Mum’s head was low, and looking at her legs I discovered what I felt on mine was blood.

One of the men grabbed my ear, another man grabbed mum’s, and the chap with the whip went off through the thorn bushes on his own. He returned pulling a cart and made mum and I stand in front of it while he tied the long pole in front of the cart round our necks with wire. I shuddered when I saw mum’s legs, but nothing prepared me for what I felt when I saw what the whip had done to her eye.

Tears streamed down my face, and the feeling of helplessness was like a knife in my heart. What had we done wrong to deserve this?

The men got onto the cart and shouted. Our terrible journey began again as we were made to gallop through thick sand until we came to a hard road. I hoped with all my heart someone would see us and save us, but there was no one.

On and on they drove us with that terrible whip. We galloped as fast as we could, but over and over it lashed us. One final blow hit mum’s eye again. She couldn’t see a thing, and stumbled on a rock. As she fell to her knees I pulled back, trying to stop the cart. But neither of us had seen the bridge.

Time seemed to stand still as we plunged towards the dry river bed. The cart smashed over us, but luckily, the wire snapped and we managed to roll away. As I struggled to my feet I caught sight of the men still beneath the cart, and I shakily took a step towards mum. She trembled, and her hind leg was lifted off the ground. I reached my nose out to touch hers, willing her to be alright. But the way she hobbled forwards told me she was not.

We shuffled along the riverbed, figuring out the way back to the village. I was pretty sure the men would not be following us, but we moved as fast as mum’s shattered leg would allow. Hours passed. Long endless hours with the sun beating down on us. Mum’s breath shortened, but I couldn’t let her stop. We had to keep going.

Eventually, it was just too much for her and she crumpled to the ground. As she lay in the burning heat, we breathed into each other’s breath until she breathed her last. I tried to pull her up with my front hooves, but it was useless.

By the time the sun had come to rest I gave up, and simply lay next to her. When the birds sang in the morning and a new day began, I had to accept she was not going to get up.

Slowly I said my goodbyes, and with head hanging low and tears in my eyes, I followed the river bed. I barely knew how to continue, and it was only when I caught the smell of water that I found the strength to go on.

If only mum was here. A drink just might have helped her.

A Zimbabwean donkey named Lucky: Part two

Hi, I’m back! Put the kettle on, pour yourself a cuppa, and travel with me to the wilds of Zimbabwe.

Mum and I spent our days grazing on whatever grass and bushes we could find. We stayed close to our village, always on the lookout for hyenas and other predators. With water and food being so hard to find, we were all becoming weaker. The nasty smelly hyenas knew this, and skulked in the shadows hoping for an easy meal. My dear mum was getting very old. Her ears had started to sag, and her teeth were wearing out. In the last fifteen years she’d brought twelve foals into the world, but only I and one other had survived.

The rest of my brothers and sisters had been eaten by hyenas; see why I hate those creatures so much?

Mum’s previous owner didn’t know what had become of my siblings, he just thought mum wasn’t a good breeding mare, so he sold her.

But this owner, my owner too, would never sell us. He showed us so much love, and he worked so hard to buy mum. He chopped wood, sold it, and saved every dollar he made.

He didn’t know much about caring for a donkey when he got her, but he was
prepared to learn. Mum loved him dearly. He was the first human to ever show her kindness.

He was a young man who owned very little. Two sets of clothes, a holey old jacket and two shoes. I say two shoes because they weren’t a pair. The left was a size 7, the right a size 9, and his feet were size 8, so one was too big, the other too small.

Every morning and evening he took mum and I to the village well for a drink. As I
got bigger he made me a harness using old rope and cloth. He’d place it on my back
and balance cans of water on it so I’d learn to help carry the water from the
well back to the house for his family. I enjoyed doing this as it made me feel important. At the end of my training he’d gather seed pods from high branches neither mum nor I could reach, so we’d have something to eat.

As days turned to weeks and then months, I grew bigger and stronger. I was
learning what I would need to do to help my owner and his family, and when I saw how the other donkeys in the village were treated by their humans, I was so thankful my owner was loving and caring. I saw most of the other donkeys being beaten, and left to find their own water and food after working in the roasting sun all day. Sometimes, they had to walk far from the village to where the nasty hyenas were waiting.

To begin with my master called me Pikinini, but that was what called anything small. One day, while walking to the well, he announced my name would be “Mkuru Ndoda,” which means “Big Man.” This was because I’d grown so big because he took such good care of me!

Whenever he needed me, he’d call my name and whistle, and I’d gallop to him.

My training continued and at first it was hard to balance and carry the containers of water. But as my back got stronger it became easier. My muscles developed, and my owner hitched me into a cart so I could get used to wearing a harness. The harness attached to a long pole that would pull the cart.

Let me tell you, it sure took a lot of getting used to! It was a heavy weight pulling on my back, there were chains attached to my harness, the cart was close to my back legs, and I was scared the cart would roll too fast when going down hill and run into me! But my master needed to prepare me for my working days, and they were approaching fast. All the other young donkeys my age in our village had already been working hard for a long time. Many of them were already injured, some so badly they could never work again! Those ones were left to look after themselves; their
master’s didn’t care if they lived or died.

I was so very lucky to have an owner that loved and took care of me.

That’s all for this post, but I’ll be back soon! If you are enjoying my story, don’t forget to share!


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!