The Lizard Man of Matobo

For visitors to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in Southern Africa, a popular place to visit is the 'View of the World', which lies an hours drive south of Bulawayo, in the Matobo National Park. This granite hillside has clear views to the horizon in every direction, and Cecil John Rhodes, who called it the 'View of the World', is buried here. Rhodes, an Englishman, emigrated to South Africa in the 19th century, made a fortune from diamonds, and became prime minister of Cape Colony. For a while the country was named after him. But the Matobo Hills have another attraction, for those lucky enough to witness it. A little bit of magic, known as the Lizard Man. Actually a retired park ranger, he can still sometimes be found at the granite summit near where Rhodes is buried, performing a trick that has delighted all those lucky enough to witness it.

Once a small audience has gathered, he takes a little ball of moistened ground mealie meal from his pocket, and sits down with his back to one of the giant granite boulders. He then calls, a staccato 'hup, hup, hup', apparently to the empty rocks.

And, miraculously, from all around him, lizards emerge from the cracks and crevices, and cluster around him. Within a few seconds there are up to fifty lizards surrounding him. They nibble from the ball of mealie meal in his hand. Then he holds it a little higher. 'Jump' he encourages, and jump the lizards do. At the end he gives bits of mealie meal to the watchers, who try it for themselves. But for some reason the magic is lacking, and the lizards scuttle away.

Let us hope that he lives long, under the hot African sun, to delight many future visitors with a little bit of natural magic. We don't have a scientific explanation for this one. We just enjoy the spectacle!

Grand Illusions Toy Shop

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