The Donkey Renaissance Era

Gone are the days when the donkey’s only use was as a draught animal and associated with poverty.

Donkeys are about to claim their rightful place in the history of mankind.These past few years I have been travelling a lot around the country and I’m telling you, gone are the days when the long ear’s only use was as a draught animal, confined to the fields and cattle posts and when it was associated with poverty.

Today, donkey meat is a sought out delicacy by the majority of folks that used to look down on it. Donkey meat, as it were, used to be associated with certain tribes in Botswana but now it is enjoyed by people from different regions of the country.

Nowadays it’s not rare to see a city slicker suited out in the latest Armani threads munching on piece of ‘donkey wors’ as the meat is now being sold in different variations from dried meat, wors to pounded meat. In addition, donkeys are now also used as novelty cart-pullers especially during weddings.

One thing that has always baffled me is, if Jesus himself found it fit to ride a donkey, why then has the poor animal been belittled and slandered? I bet we all remember that morena wa e bata song. Was it just jealousy? because if you roll with the big boys then people envy you. Well, maybe it’s the ears. I remember how back in the day during my primary and secondary school days poorly performing students were referred to as ditonki. In any case that doesn’t matter now. We are in an era of the donkey renaissance.

Personally I believe donkeys are the most reliable and extremely hardy animals. One of the reasons why folks keep donkeys is because they are cheap to maintain and require less or no supplementary feed and medication. I have seen a donkey transform from being skinny to fat after just a few showers of rain fall.

Most people have been led to believe that donkeys are stupid and stubborn. That’s not true. That’s just a stereotype. Believe you me, donkeys are smart. A donkey simply won’t put an extra effort if it realises that all its endeavours will be futile. It doesn’t matter how much you beat it. It just won’t barge.

Although some people were already eating donkey meat locally, I think the hype all started with an innovative fella who sold the meat along the Gaborone-Molepolole road a few years back. Word is, he opened his butchery after he realised there was a niche market he could exploit in the form of feed for dog breeders and the nearby Botswana Defence Force camp. I’m not sure for whom or for what purpose was the meat bought by the BDF, if indeed they ever purchased any. Regrettably the meat never reached its intended market. Apparently someone “accidentally” tasted the meat and found it so delicious and juicy that, well, let’s just say the rest is history.

Unfortunately the poor lad’s enterprise was to also become history. He was allegedly forced to close shop due to some bureaucratic red tape citing hygiene, permits and all that gobbledygook that government officials can throw at you just to close down your operations.

Another creative entrepreneur is apparently selling donkey milk in and around Gaborone and those that have tasted the milk can’t stop waxing lyrical about how “nice and good” the milk is. The same dude is reportedly working with the National Food Technology Centre to process donkey milk and package it into different products including but not limited to cosmetics, pills and nutritional beverages. Now, that’s innovation.

The love for donkey meat is not confined to the borders of this country only. Some time back it was reported that a couple of enterprising business folks have managed to penetrate the international markets such that plans to build a donkey meat processing facility, I’m not sure if it ever took shape.

By the way, I was trying to buy two donkeys the other day and the old dude looked at me with a straight face and demanded P250 each. I thought to myself, since when did donkeys cost that much. Just a few years back I could have gotten them for less than P50 each or even free. But then I realised, the donkey renaissance is upon us. Don’tsay you were never told.

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