The Tale of the Chameleon

Zulu mythology really does have the most beautifully colourful tales!

Ja, No, Man is a South African authored book that tells the story of a young white boy, Richard,  growing up during Apartheid. The first few years of his life are very much influenced by Bushy, the domestic worker who doubles as a nanny for Richard. Bushy is terrified of lizards and anything reptilian, and Richard and Bushy spend hours everyday hunting lizards and chopping off their tails! It turns out you see, that according to Zulu mythology we have the lizards to thank for Death!

The story goes that uNkulunkulu (God) told the chameleon to go and tell the tribe that man would never die. But not being the speediest of creatures, the chameleon took his time, and was overtaken by the lizard, who carried a different message from God, “Man will die”. And thus the mortal nature of man was cemented! And the tale lives on – not all Zulus will know why they’re scared of lizards, but if you ask a Zulu person to hold a lizard, you’ll see that the effect of the story is alive and well!

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