Donkey Cart Race: One of the Many Faces of Karachi
Donkey cart races in Karachi have been an old tradition, a unique event/sport anchored in Lyari - a town in the city's old part with over half a million people living there - mostly impoverished. Scores of tiny carts, with a single rider or sometimes two of them on each can be seen across the city on weekend evenings charting their way across to the Clifton area, making noises with pebble-filled cans for other vehicular traffic and pedestrians to make way for them.
A total of 40 donkey cart riders from different towns, mainly from Lyari, participated in the seven-kilometre-long race from Gulbai Chowk to Jahangir Kothari Parade. PSDCRF General Secretary Sheikh Nisar Ahmed was the referee of the race, while City Naib Nazim Nasreen Jalil was the chief guest of the event which was carried out and concluded with much funfare.
Expressing their feelings minutes before the race started, excited participants had been dancing on the beats of drums (Dholak) and traditional Balochi (Sheedi) music to celebrate. “It’s our ancestors’ sports and even today we play it with the same spirit,” said one participant. The youths, gathered in large numbers, were found making predictions about winners, with some even indulging in betting. Most predictions went wrong, however, as a newcomer won the race.
Congratulating the participants and the winner at the end of the race, City Naib Nazim Nasreen Jalil said that the donkey cart race was Karachi’s asset and its identity. “We want the donkey cart race to be world famous and recognized as an identity of Karachi, particularly Lyari,” she said.