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Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is a journalist and broadcaster from Ghana who reports for NPR News on issues and developments related to West Africa. She spent her early years in Ghana, Italy, Britain and Kenya.

Quist-Arcton has lived and worked in the U.K., France, Ivory Coast, U.S., South Africa and most recently Senegal, traveling all over Africa as a journalist, broadcaster, commentator and host.

After completing high school in Britain, she took a degree in French studies with international relations and Spanish at the London School of Economics (LSE) and went on to study radio journalism at the Polytechnic of Central London, with two internships at the BBC.

Quist-Arcton joined the BBC in 1985, working at a number of regional radio stations all over Britain, moving two years later to the renowned BBC World Service at Bush House in London, as a producer and host in the African Service. She traveled and reported throughout Africa.

She spent the year leading up to 1990 in Paris, on a BBC journalist exchange with Radio France International (RFI), working in "Monito" — a service supplying reports and interviews about Africa to African radio stations, and with RFI's English (for Africa) Service as a host, reporter and editor.

Later in 1990, Quist-Arcton won one of the BBC's coveted foreign correspondents posts, moving to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to head the corporation's West Africa bureau. From there, she covered 24 countries, straddling the Sahara to the heart of the continent — crisscrossing the continent from Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, to Zaire and Congo-Brazzaville, via Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. She contributed to all BBC radio and television outlets, covering the flowering of democracy in the region, as well as the outbreak of civil wars, revolutions and coups, while always keeping an eye on the "other" stories about Africa that receive minimal media attention — including the continent's rich cultural heritage. Quist-Arcton also contributed to NPR programs during her reporting assignment in West and Central Africa.

After four years as BBC West Africa correspondent, she returned to Bush House in 1994, as a host and senior producer on the BBC World Service flagship programs, Newshour & Newsday (now The World Today), and as a contributing Africa specialist for other radio and TV output.

Quist-Arcton laced up her traveling shoes again in 1995 and relocated to Boston as a roving reporter for The World, a co-production between the BBC, Public Radio International (PRI) and WGBH. She lived in Cambridge and enjoyed getting to know Massachusetts and the rest of New England, learning a new language during winter, most of it related to snow!

For The World, she traveled around the United States, providing the program with an African journalist's perspective on North American life. She also spent six months as a roving Africa reporter, covering — among other events — the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1997.

In 1998, after another stint back at BBC World Service, Quist-Arcton was appointed co-host of the South African Broadcasting Corporation's flagship radio drive-time show, PM Live, based in Johannesburg.

In 2000, she left the BBC to join allAfrica.com (allAfricaGlobal Media) as Africa correspondent, covering the continent's top stories, in all domains, and developing new radio shows for webcast and syndication to radio stations around the continent.

After six years in South Africa, Quist-Arcton joined NPR in November 2004 at the newly-created post of West Africa Correspondent, moving back to her home region, with a new base in Senegal.

Her passions are African art and culture, music, literature, open-air markets, antiques - and learning. She loves to travel and enjoys cycling and photography.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

Wide-eyed Sakina Muhammad, who's 2, sits on her mother, Habiba's lap, on a bed in the ICU. Sakina is stick thin, her body withered and emaciated.

But she's one of the lucky ones — a malnourished child who came to the health facility in time to be saved. Many starving children don't make it.

Malnutrition is at a catastrophic level in northeastern Nigeria, where Sakina lives, says Doctors Without Borders. According to the medical aid group, the number of malnourished people could be as high as half a million. Children are starving — and dying.

The United Nations suspended food and relief aid to dangerous and hard-to-access areas in northeastern Nigeria, amid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis affecting half a million people. The move comes after Boko Haram ambushed a humanitarian convoy.

It's World Refugee Day today, and the head of the UN's refugee agency, FiIippo Grandi, has released some startling statistics – starting with the fact that there are 65 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. That's a record number.

And behind every number, there is a story.

It's a familiar story. A young man leaves his family in search of a golden land, a place where he can earn more money to send back home.

In the past, the story has led to happy endings as well as tragedies. That is also the case in the 21st century. Last week, there were reports of 700 migrants who likely perished in three shipwrecks in the Mediterranean while crossing from Libya to Italy.

Nigerian tomatoes are tasty and juicy. But a large basket of toms is now costing an arm and a leg. From about $10.40 three months ago, that price has rocketed 400 percent to a staggering $40, according to local media.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Bourang Ba was a young farmer in Sitacourou — a sleepy village of scattered thatched roof dwellings where cattle chomp on hay in courtyards. Last year, the father of two set out for Europe, leaving behind his son, daughter and young wife, Nialina. Like his two half-brothers who had already migrated to Spain, he hoped to send money home for the family.

Bourang Ba never made it to Europe. He drowned in the Mediterranean en route.

"He wanted to do his bit and provide for his relatives, so he left without telling me," sobs Wassa Ba, Bourang Ba's father.

One evening in November 2014, Aissatou Sanogo's husband came to tell her some startling news.

"Aissatou," he said, "I'm leaving for Europe" — that very night. He earned a modest salary as a bakery deliveryman in Senegal but had dreams of making far more for his family in a European country.

Tributes continue to flood in for celebrated Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibe, who died of complications from diabetes in Bamako on April 14, at 80.

Mali's culture minister, N'Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, says Sidibe was a national treasure and an important part of their cultural heritage, whose loss the entire country is mourning.

"Ca nous fait swinguer" — love that swing, says an aficionado at the Dakar Goree Jazz Festival as the tempo shifts from Senegalese jazz to salsa and blues. Aissatou Niang says she's enchanted and delighted with the performances.

Other festivalgoers concur, smiling. They're attending the second edition of a burgeoning jazzfest in Dakar last month that brought together musicians from Senegal, the U.S. and beyond.

The festival is the brainchild of Amadou Koly Niang, a Senegalese man who fell in love with jazz in his teens.

"We're not afraid of the terrorists," says Salimata Sylla.

The buses have eyes.

They're the "cars rapides" – a fleet of distinctive, hand-painted minibuses that have become a national symbol in Senegal. True to their name, they're fast-moving vehicles. And almost all of them are decorated with a pair of eyes on the front and rear.

One artist who paints the cars says the goal is to humanize them: "It's just like my face, with a nose and a mouth — with an extra pair of eyes at the back."

It's exactly a week since al-Qaida gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on swimmers and diners last Sunday at a popular beachfront weekend getaway in Grand Bassam, the historic former capital of Ivory Coast.

Bassam, as the sleepy, pretty town is known, is a short 25-mile ride from the economic capital and main city, Abidjan. Bassam is much favored by local families and visitors, including children of all ages.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When the military took power in Ghana, imposing a curfew from the early 1980s, theaters in the West African country went dark. By the time elected-civilian government was restored in 1992, many Ghanaians had lost the habit of going out to watch a play.

Now one man is luring his compatriots back to live shows — and away from TV and videos. His name is James Ebo Whyte — "but everyone in Ghana calls me 'Uncle' Ebo Whyte, because of the program I do on radio," he says.

Chad's ex-dictator Hissene Habre stands accused of crimes against humanity, including allegations of sexual slavery, and the testimony over the past few months has been harrowing.

The case is also setting a precedent because it marks the first time the former ruler of one African country, Chad, has been put on trial in another nation, Senegal, in a specially convened court, backed by the African Union.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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