Donkey work (1)
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 1995. Donkey work (1). Spore 60. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47183
From earliest times, merchants have used donkeys to transport their goods; kola nuts from the coast of West Africa perhaps, or rock salt from the north of Africa to the south. And even today, donkeys continue to play an important role in rural...
From earliest times, merchants have used donkeys to transport their goods; kola nuts from the coast of West Africa perhaps, or rock salt from the north of Africa to the south. And even today, donkeys continue to play an important role in rural transport. With the help of photographs, Keffing Sissoko (an agro-ecologist) follows the tracks of the donkey in the life of the people of the Niono region of Mali. Handcarts, or 'pousse-pousse' as they are commonly known, come into their own on market days. They are smaller than standardized carts and so are easier to maneuver between heavily laden market stalls. The cost of transport depends on the distance to be covered and the volume of the goods to be carried. The price in human terms is often heavy, particularly when sizeable loads have to be carried over long distances. That is why in Mali, as soon as anyone can afford a donkey, it is the donkey that pulls the cart. And so on market days men, women and children struggle to find a place on the cart amongst the rice, millet, vegetables, tomatoes, sacks of fertilizer and chickens as they take these goods to market. When market day is over, donkeys are used to transport any number of other goods. They may have to carry fodder for other animals: rice straw for example, or cowpea haulms. Firewood, timber, soil, sand, bricks or stones for building houses may all need to be transported and it is the donkey who shoulders the burden. Donkeys have a reputation for being docile, and women and children can control them without any difficulty. They may become obstinate when required to pull heavy loads but this only serves to show that even a donkey has its limits. Public transport is very expensive, scarce or else non-existent in many villages. Even though it may be uncomfortable, a donkey and cart is more reliable. The people of the region have chosen to travel slowly but surely on their road to development - at the steady pace of a donkey pulling a cart.