Thank you Anne, for the inspiration. Your lovely photographs of donkeys reminded me of a special donkey here in Polokwane where we live.

Years ago Polokwane, apart from Randburg, was the South African City with the most art in South Africa. Many art installations, statues and a stunning art museum had place of pride in parks, on street corners. One in particular, that of a donkey, has always been a favourite of mine.

A statue, the only of its kind, stands on a sidewalk in Polokwane. The statue by Jo Roos, honours the role of donkeys in the short, glorious era of mining in the area from 1871-1892. It was donated by the Pietersburg District Agricultural Union in 1986. Alas the plaque explaining the raison d’être has been appropriated for economical purposes. Luckily the wonderful people of Eseltjierus Donkey sanctuary has documented the content of the plaque:
donkey hist 6

My donkey story originated 26 years ago. I had been manager of the Cancer Association of South Africa Far Northern Transvaal for a few years. What was challenging is that we had the only care facility of its kind, as part of our project. A six-bed hospitium (much like a hospice). The aristocracy of our city, other words fail to describe the band of stalwarts, raised R1 million in the early 1990s to establish the facility. Alas, they did not contend with the running costs of such a facility. I had to make many unpopular decisions to keep the place afloat. Fundraising was a 24/7 activity. I soon became known as Please-and-thank-you.

The Pietersburg Women’s Club, established in 1949, celebrated their their 45th anniversary 1n 1995. Nann Forrest and her band of women decided to launch a special project in aid of the hospitium as part of their festivities. The result was a recipe book. Of the multitude fundraising project I was involved with over the years, “Favourite recipes of Pietersburg Women’s Club and friends” remains a firm favourite. If ever the saying ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork’ needs confirmation, this project was proof.

Meeting upon meeting resulted in an unique booklet. We decided that honouring the hard work women of the club had put in over the years to make a difference in the community, was praiseworthy. As praiseworthy as the donkey, who is honoured for its contribution to the growth of our region. A young graphic designer, Ilsa van der Merwe, found inspiration from the donkey statue and the women’s club recipes and illustrated the frontpage and sections in the recipe book with delightful sketches. From Pietersburg, always something new and unique!

Our beloved Jack Botes, dynamic Town Clerk, and widely known as Mr Pietersburg at the time, gave his full support and wrote a beautiful foreword. Under his leadership what we now know as Polokwane was a vibrant community.

As for the recipes, they are firm favourites in my household. My favourite on the back cover, is a life lesson.

Recipe for a good citizen

Take one child, boy or girl carefully measure equal amounts of parental guidance, teacher’s influence, and begign neglect. Add unknown quantity of peer influence and sibling rivalry.

Butter up occasionally, coddle regularly, beat rarely and watch closely. Sprinkle with liberal amounts of good manners, simmer slowly without either of you boiling over.

Do not baste, but on occassion allow to stew in own juice. Let rise to full height, while keeping the lid on. After matriculation, hope her or she is warm, mature and well seasoned.

Cover with appropiate dressing.

Serve proudly to friends, family and the world.

Today, on the sixth anniversary of my blog, I wish to honour these wonderful people, without whom the Hospitium would never have survived and thousands of cancer patients and their families would not have received respite in trying times. It was an honour and privilege to serve a dynamic, caring community. Many of the women, and Oom Jack have long since passed. Oom Jack spending last days in the very hospitium he established.

Their example and guidance an influence on my life to this day. I am blessed to have rubbed shoulders with them. Today I see their children and grandchildren reap the benefit of their community spirit.