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.

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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.

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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.

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Climate change can affect everything from air and ocean temperatures to weather and disease. In Senegal, one man has made it his mission to connect communities with information that might affect their distant future but also their immediate reality.

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And let's take a step back now to see what details we can get on this breaking - fast-breaking story there in Bomako, Mali. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following the details from London.

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We're tracking a hostage situation in Mali today. Two gunmen took over an upscale hotel. The Radisson Blu is in the capital, Bamako. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following this story from London and joins us now. Good morning.

A goat stew has been simmering in Ghana's cooking pots for months.

It all began in March. President John Dramani Mahama was definitely in hot water. He'd been facing an unprecedented series of strikes and protests over poor delivery of services and economic difficulties.

On an official visit to Botswana, he reportedly told an audience of expatriate Ghanaians:

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In a speech marking Zimbabwe's National Heroes Day on Monday, President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabweans had failed in their responsibility to protect Cecil the lion.

"Even Cecil the lion is yours," he said. "He's dead, but he was yours to protect and you failed to protect him."

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Noisy trolleys roll bales of tobacco on and off the auction floors in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Here they call it "green gold." Some of the country's estimated 100,000 small-scale tobacco farmers look on, hoping for profitable sales.

Auctioneers, quoting prices at high speed, pace up and down rows of extra-large jute-covered bundles, with yellow tobacco leaves spilling out.

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"Where can I go now?" asks Temptation Tekera.

He is one of an estimated 20,000 street vendors in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.

The vendors sell everything from sweet potatoes to new and used footwear to pirated CDs. Goods splay across the sidewalks, making it a minefield for pedestrians in a hurry.

Now the government wants the vendors to pack up their wares and register and pay rent for one of 6,000 places in designated zones. The deadline is June 26. The goal is to restore order to the once sedate city.

On May Day, Zimbabwe's information minister, Jonathan Moyo, posted a bleak tweet, listing what he described as his country's triple challenge after the economic crash of 2007-2008: "We've workers without work, we've lost the sense of labour value and we lack a strategy to create wealth."

Zimbabweans lament that life is tough and everything is expensive in their U.S. dollar-based economy.

So how do people get by?

Goodwill Zwelithini is the influential king of South Africa's Zulu nation. Comments that he made last month — when he reportedly said head lice should be squashed and foreigners should pack their belongings and leave the country — have been blamed for igniting attacks on foreigners, resulting in at least seven deaths. But Zwelithini denies inciting the violence.

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