From the book
“Why do you have such big ears?” asked the little girl, somewhere in the Congo. “And why can these ears twitch and move in all directions. Are they antennas?”
Little girls are my favourite human beings; they like donkeys and they like to ride on my back.
Why do I have such big ears? A group of ten-year-olds surrounded me, me the jackass, Sartre Jackass. I stood by Mama Bagwena, a traditionally built lady with a nice laugh. She patted her corn-braided hair; I wish I could do the same from time to time, when my back is itchy. Some kids were holding onto my tail and one grabbed my hide, trying to pull himself up onto my back. The other children were looking at my hoofs and were even inspecting my teeth. One little guy drew a picture of me and I got to see what I really look like.
I was the most beautiful donkey in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and my life was to wander through a city in a time of war.
I look like a proud male with my one hundred and sixty-five centimetres of height; I only need a white coloured female mate for procreation purposes.
“Can you make a noise?” asked a coloured girl in red pants.
I did my best and brayed very loudly. The kids, frightened by the noise, took off towards the school. It is a pity that they could not hear me talk, me Jackass Sartre, the only speaking donkey since Ballak’s donkey in the book of Numbers of the old Bible.
Jean Paul Jeeppee has been my owner from the day he was born. His father bought me from a Belgian family who brought me from Ethiopia by air. I am an airborne donkey.
But enough with this nonsense. I am here to tell you a story about war and love in the darkest site of the darkest place of a black hole in the whole of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am an existentialist donkey.
My name is Jack but you can also call me Ass. I work hard, I do it because that is my mission: I am a pack animal. I carry loads that are double my weight, up and down the hill, again and again, no problem. Dark as the night, I am invisible even when I stand next to humans.
One day, while walking with my boss Jeeppee along Lake Kivu, it happened: a revelation, a hallucination, there under the mango tree, next to a big black lava rock. I could smell it, the stench of a dead body.