Monday, January 9, 2012

Unfairness to Donkeys

The other day, I saw two people on the street maltreating a certain donkey (I don’t think maltreating rightfully expresses the actual injury and pain I witnessed), which makes me brood over to write this article. Addis Ababa has been changing…especially, the highways and buildings under construction have given the metropolis a better look now than it had some years back. As the Amharic saying goes ‘k’es bek’es in’kulal begru yihedal’ (literally, it means ‘the egg slowly but surely stands on its feet and starts walking’), the city seems to be under its own steam… though, as many agree, at a snail's pace. In conjunction with these radical transformations, the common mode of transport has also greatly expanded, too, so to say. From our still beloved public transport servants, dear donkeys, and carts, to the minibuses and the recent ones which are a little larger than the minibuses called Hagar, (the Chinese-made public transport), our city now boasts of having ample transportation across all quarters. Of course, given the alarmingly increasing number of population and the growing city, these are just not going to be enough. And this implies that it’s not time for our long-term public transport servants, dear donkeys, to be retired.
Donkeys are one of the hardest working equines used by man when he took up agriculture and they can be seen in cave paintings across Africa as well as Europe. Donkeys have given a lot of services other than being a major form of transport. Before the introduction of high speed cars and trains and until they became feral (not in Addis, though), they used to be the sole means of traveling from one place to another. They also served in tilling the land just like today’s tractors... and they still do. However, they haven’t ever been fairly treated anywhere on earth. In fact, they have been despised and regarded as weak, selfish and careless, not only by our local folks by almost all people around the world. Despite their hard work, donkeys appear to be the only creatures that are universally ridiculed. There are many disheartening sayings that surely have given donkeys scornful look among people. For instance, ye ahiya bal ke jib ayast’il (which is literally translated as ‘the husband of a donkey won’t rescue (save) her from a hyena’) simply exposing its weakness. Having more examples from different world languages could illustrate this: ‘The world wouldn’t make a racehorse of a donkey’ goes an Irish proverb. “Butcher the donkey after it finished his job on the mill,” the Chinese saying continues. Even the English orator and great preacher of the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon pictured it disdainfully as follows: “A worthy man is still worthy even penniless; a donkey is a donkey even if he is finely saddled.” We can still mention several others, if not for short of space and time. Even people use it when they rudely call names to someone (even using the other derogative A-word, you know what I mean by that). However, forgetting the commendable service this wonderful creature has given to the development of a nation should not be ancient history. Although we have just started to drive in highways, we should not feel as if we’re completely done with this creature, because we are still using it far and wide in the regions and in the metropolis, too. Besides, we have a long way to go in the realm of freeway construction. We still depend on them, like it or not, for carriage, transport as well as for farming, which unfortunately couldn’t go without these dearest creatures at the moment. All in all, I believe donkeys should get their due respect and honor for the long-year services they have rendered to us.

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