The Stoic Donkeys of Mali

Mali has easily a bazillion donkeys. They are everywhere. At first glance it is an endearing site to see the age old donkey finding relevance in today’s oil driven world. On closer inspection you learn that most donkeys don’t have an easy life. They are worked hard, most don’t get enough to eat (especially so in the dry season), they are beaten, and are not given much rest. The idea of having a pet or valuing animals the way we do in the west is a very foreign concept to many people here in Mali.

Yet they are still so beautiful despite the situation they live in. When they aren’t working they do exactly what they want when the want. If it means that traffic is backed up because a donkey is sleeping in one of the road lanes than so be it. That donkey is tired. If a donkey wants to roll around in the dust to ward off bugs in the middle of your path that is exactly what is going to do. It will blink its beautiful eyelashes and maybe swat its ears and off stare at you as if to say – “listen lady, I gotta put up with enough and I am not doing anything for you – now is me time.”

I like the constant reminder to stand up for myself and to be exactly who I want to be without any exception. I like the stoic reminder to work hard and then do exactly what I want to do. I like the reminder that we can all find relevance in today’s busy world. We need to make space for holding all things in balance – making space for both for the old and the new to run along side of one another, to work work hard but to play hard too. Maybe I am reading too much into them but I like the donkeys.

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