Terrible News From Zimbabwe

Whenever I need a break from the agony that is the American news media, I know I can always turn to NewZimbabwe.Com, with their always unhappy news of the nation. Today, for example, one of the lead items gets this dispiriting headline: 'Mugabe Still in Charge'. Another story on the economy is optimistically titled 'Inflation Down to 252%'. But today we are thinking about lizards, which is why we are attracted to this story: Woman carried 'money spinning' lizards in handbag.

A HARARE woman kept two lizards in her handbag thinking they would bring her financial bliss. The unidentified woman from Harare's Kambuzuma suburb told friends her husband sent the lizards from South Africa "to spin money" in Zimbabwe, the official Herald newspaper reported.

The woman's lizards are said to have drawn a large crowd at the Kambuzuma 5 Shopping Centre, before a self-styled prophet from the eastern border town of Mutare sprinkled the lizards with a concoction following which they died.

It's always like that, isn't it. You get yourself a nice pair of money spinning lizards, and some damn prophet comes along and sprinkles a concoction on them.

"My husband said we would be rich if we kept feeding them with mealie-meal," she said.

There is no justice in life. The prophet probably wanted to make a point about, I don't know, why it is the richest 1% of the population had 98% of the lizards. Whatever. We don't get any quotes from him. We do know that the prophet accosted the tearful woman and insisted that she open her bag. How did he know she had lizards? It's all part and parcel of being a prophet, I guess. He told her that they would cause a bus accident, which is why he was concerned.

"A crowd then gathered thinking the two were involved in a domestic dispute. But on discovering what the two were arguing about, they pressed the woman to open the bag. She took out a smaller bag, which was inside her handbag, and to the utter shock and amazement of the gathering two monitor lizards crawled out.

Good Lord! Monitor Lizards! Those things are huge! Monitor Lizards! Good Lord! They're like... they're like, small dinosaurs or something. Good Lord! How big was this lady's purse, anyway?

"We were shocked, to say the least," said a Mrs Yeshiva, who was at a nearby market said.

Shocked, I guess! Good Lord! Monitor Lizards! You think that you're going to check out a little domestic squabble and then they go and pull something like this on you! Great Googledymoogledy!

A local businessman then bought four liters of paraffin and diesel with which he attempted to burn the creatures, but they crawled out of the fire to the further disbelief of the crowd.

Good Lord! Be still my heart! The almost-dinosaurs are fireproof too? Great Caesar's Ghost!

About 30 minutes later, the prophet, who comes from Mutare but was visiting his brother, asked for some water and salt and began praying.

Can you imagine the tension that filled that marketplace? I certainly can't. Fireproof monitor lizards, their tongues darting wildly, their beady little eyes freezing all citizens in their place, knowing any moment the creatures could spring.

He later sprinkled the water onto the lizards following which they died.

What? That's it? That's the end of the story? He 'sprinkled water' on the Monitor Lizards and they died? What the hell sort of ending to a story is that? That's like every lame-ass science fiction movie you've ever seen - the all powerful aliens are destroyed by a rain shower... Lame, lame, lame. I mean, seems like the guy was a pretty good prophet and all, but good lord...


2004, Mark Hoback