I knew it was gonna be a good day when I was running to the main road to catch a hitch, and SPLAT---I go tumbling down, having tripped over some barbed wire. My hand is a little limp and aching, I missed a hitch, and I'm covered with red African soil from my eyebrows to my toes. I love those kind of days when you know you should've just stayed in bed! So why was I running, well, because on Saturday's, cars can be far and few between, and I just wanted one way to Kanye to be fast and peaceful.
It never ceases to amaze me though, that when one hitch fails, another opens up, and it's usually better. A nice car stops a few minutes later, so me and my dirty body hop in to see a huge smiling face---it's the cool Kgosi, the Chief of Mmathethe, and best of all, I know he won't charge me for the ride! His English is not that great, but we talk in broken tongue about my upcoming projects, he asks a few ordinary questions about my life, and tells me about a recent trip to Lesotho---something a few of us are planning to do soon. And then a ding went off in my head, or more like an alarm! He had this look in his eye that I knew something big, something profound was about to come, and just then, he takes both hands off the stearing wheel, puts each on the sides of his eyes, like making a tunnel vision sort of look, and pensively says, “Tshepo, Americans are like Donkeys!” For a split second, I thought there are often amazing explanations underneath every experience, and I wondered what this explanation will be.
So my profound response---”Oh, Kgosi, I see what you're saying, Americans are asses!" With hands still off the wheel and in tunnel vision form, a huge burst of laughter came out and off the road we're going. I was laughing also, and didn't care if we were off the road, or in Timbuktu---life at that moment was funny, and besides, it took away some of the increasing pain in my hand. After gaining some composure, and control of the car, he turns to me, still smiling, and says, “I am not an educated man, but I am the Chief, and even I know that is not what you meant.” Ok, now I'm the American Ass!
The Kgosi explained that he thought American's had tunnel vision---just like a donkey, they don't look sideways---they have a goal and they go for it, just like what I'm doing with one of my projects. “But Kgosi, I didn't know that Donkey's had goals---I thought they just had, well---issues.” “You know, their not exactly the perfect family pet!” He's now looking at me like, ok Tseph, what is this psychological mumble jumble!
While I am not enchanted by Donkeys, maybe they are neglected and misunderstood. Maybe the Kgosi is right, there is an interrelationship with man and animal, that human lessons interweave with animal lessons, and can also mirror each other to facilitate life's lessons. How's that for profound Mr. Kgosi? I realized today that humans, especially Americans, are not above animals, they are simply a different species, and that the Kgosi thinks in this fashion because that is what he knows, Donkeys are what he is surrounded by, and that I, as the lone American in this village, should take lessons from the donkey and not be such as ass---oops, I mean have my tunnel vision and go for it Tshepo!