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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Neil Parsons launches book dealing with star circus performer.

With foreword by Alexander McCall-Smith, Neil Parsons book Clicko: The Wild Dancing Bushman deals with Clicko (Franz Taibosh) who was a star performer of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1920s and 1930s. When he died in 1940, an obituary in the New York Times called him “the only African bushman ever exhibited in this country”. But it was not known where he really came from, or how he had come to America – where he was often mistaken for an Australian.

Franz Taibosh danced and yelled on stage as the Wild Dancing Bushman for three decades in music halls, circuses and freak-shows, in England and France, Ireland and Cuba, as well as the United States and Canada. He entertained millions as a little Wild Man who thrilled and enchanted child spectators.

This book evokes the golden age of entertainment and a lost age when Britain ruled the waves and America stood for the biggest and the best. It traces Franz Taibosh’s early life in South Africa and his Korana ancestry, showing how Bushmen from Africa became exhibits in Western show business. It takes the reader through Franz’s misery under a vicious manager into his years of self-fulfilment as a member of an American show-business family.

In these pages the reader encounters showbiz tsars and university anthropologists, the original Zip the Pinhead, real-life characters later immortalised in the novels of John Buchan and James Joyce, and the archetypal “small brown man” of Carl Jung.

Neil Parsons is Professor of History at the University of Botswana, Gaborone, where he also teaches cinema studies. His books include King Khama, Emperor Joe, and the Great White Queen: Victorian Britain through African Eyes (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Clicko: The Wild Dancing Bushman is published in paperback by Jacana Media. Recommended Retail Price R195 - EAN/ISBN-13: 978-1-77009-710-0