The Gold Mafia – Zimbabwe

The evidence is on the table, threading through cyberspace – the shame of Zimbabwe.

Al Jazeera has pieced together a painstaking trail that leads right into the golden core of the country’s corruption, exposing some of those who enable it, and the extent and ease of it. Even more shocking is the thought that what has been shown is probably only a fraction of the rot that exists.

The documentary of four episodes, shown on YouTube, showcases how some of Zimbabwe’s so called ‘elite’ – its politically powerful, its prophets, and its perfectly ordinary chancers – are dancing on the destitution of others. They are covered in wealth while around them the health, education and care systems for the majority of Zimbabweans are in a state of collapse, or propped up by other nations.

The Al Jazeera documentary passes no judgement. It reveals.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

The sheer and utter sadness

How to even begin to comprehend the tragedy facing Turkey and Syria? The shock. The despair. The searching. The loss.

I drove through London today, watching the life on the streets. The pushchairs and children, the teenage lads heading home from school, the shopkeepers, the dogwalkers, the business people stepping briskly on to pedestrain crossings, the black cabs with their yellow lights glowing, the red buses advertising shows, or vegan bacon.

I saw them all in the spring sunshine, and thought of Syria and Turkey.

We are the same wherever we are in the world. We cherish our families, and belong to our communities. Yet we barely know each other.

Where we can, we head home for our evening meals. We eat. We do the washing up. Perhaps watch some television, then say our prayers. We may sleep together, or apart, but we hope for rest, and expect to see each other the next day. Life feels tangible and confident, then suddenly it is not.

Tonight I shall say my prayers, and they shall be for Turkey and for Syria.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

Rugby and the art of running

I watched the rugby this weekend. There were two highlights for me.

The first was the mighty run by Duhan van der Merwe. Golden as a god, he pounded down the pitch for over 50 metres, brushing off attempts to stop him. As he strode, every stride brought the Calcutta Cup closer for Scotland. And that cup never slipped away. Scotland played brilliantly, ensuring that for the first time in over fifty years, England has lost three Calcutta Cups in a row.

The second highlight was watching Ange Capuozzo’s heroic try for Italy. Capuozzo is only just over 5ft 8in, and weighs on the edge of 70kg (about 30kg less than what I have read is the average weight for a European international rugby player). Today Italy were up against big strong France, who were out to win. They did win, but only just. The magic went to Capuozzo’s try. Slippery as mercury, he and the ball flew towards the tiniest of gaps on the extreme of the try line. And the gap was closing fast, a huge French player charging to pluck him from the air – but Capuozzo, light as lightning, flashed through.

Here’s a short video (under five minutes) of the highlights from the Italy/France game, including Capuozzo’s try

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023