The Sultan’s Elephant in London – a true story

This is about an elephant that came to the streets of London in search of a little girl. It happened in 2006 and I wrote about it in 2015. It’s a tale about wonder where you least expect it … and about the power of elephants.

The Phraser

The Sultan's Elephant in London ‘The Sultan’s Elephant’ by Royal de Luxe, produced in London in 2006 by Artichoke. Photo copyright Sophie Laslett.

It all began on one of those long weekends when no-one was looking.  To start with it was just an ordinary, empty day – too busy to see.

Then, suddenly, people started to hear things, they started to wonder … because … wasn’t that … did they really hear an elephant in London?

View original post 660 more words

The Struggle Continues – 50 years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe (by David Coltart)

The Struggle Continues - 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

The Struggle Continues – 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

This is a tale of stubborn politics, war, courage, resilience, legal challenge, and hope. It tells of the evolution of a young democracy, and the consequences of decisions that have shaped that process.

The author, David Coltart, born and raised in Zimbabwe, is an experienced lawyer and politician who still lives in the country. He writes with a style that is clear and controlled, one that allows the subject to reveal itself.

Continue reading

Zimbabwe’s elephants – wanted dead or alive

This began as a reblog of an old post – it has turned into a new one about a situation that continues to haunt me … the on-going sale of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants to distant zoos and tourist parks.

The Phraser

Zimbabwe's elephants Zimbabwe’s elephants

Elephants, the big-eared nomads of Africa, are in trouble. They are squeezed for space, many are slain for ivory, and others are sold into captivity.

Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, is blessed with large herds of elephants, some of the happiest on the continent … but there is danger, both from poaching and live export. The elephants are up for sale and buyers are waiting.

View original post 923 more words

Baby elephants: made in Africa – exported to China

Today, some of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants face export to zoos in China. It was the same four years ago, in 2013. This is a reblog of a piece I wrote at the time, with links to recent Guardian reports on the situation today. Nothing much has changed.

The Phraser

Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch

Wild baby elephants (Loxodonta africana africana), born amongst the acacias of Zimbabwe, are being sold to zoos in China by the Zimbabwean authorities.

In 2012 four baby elephants, one of whom is already dead, were transported to China and it is believed that more are due to follow shortly.

View original post 326 more words

Harmony and Discord in Africa – Memories of Childhood in Southern Rhodesia by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

This is about a time and a childhood place not far from my own.

Harmony and Discord in Africa, despite its title, is not a political book but rather a slice of ‘home history’ about a boy, his family and their life on a farm in the young British colony of Southern Rhodesia .

Continue reading

Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Here’s a book to pop your eyes. Cloaked in dust and petals it swirls through bedrooms, bazaars, bombings, palaces, shrines, caves and festivals. The pace is insistent and the tensions increasing.

Our guide is journalist Isambard Wilkinson. He takes us to Pakistan (2006 – 2009) and entices us to follow him from Baluchistan to the Khyber Pass, via a couple of pauses for kidney complications.

Continue reading

Chernobyl Prayer – A Chronicle of the Future by Svetlana Alexievich

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

I was at St Andrews University in Scotland, when the accident happened … “the gravest technological catastrophe of the twentieth century.” It was 26 April, 1986.

Reactor No.4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Belarus collapsed.

Continue reading