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.

Pages

Africa
3:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Mandela Remains In Hospital In Serious Condition

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:20 pm

Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized since Saturday with a recurring lung infection. The government says his condition is unchanged — serious, but stable. But his poor health and advanced age — 94 — suggest the former president's days are numbered. Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu described the anti-apartheid campaigner as an "extraordinary gift".

Africa
5:23 am
Sat May 18, 2013

In Zimbabwe, Will Next Election Be More Peaceful?

Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential election and efforts to alleviate its international isolation.

Africa
3:29 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Media Focus On Ailing Mandela Is Not 'The African Way'

Congregants pray in front of a stained-glass window depicting South African statesman Nelson Mandela during Easter services at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Soweto of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 3. The church held prayers for Mandela, 94, who was in the hospital at the time.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 8:11 am

It's almost impossible these days to switch on South African radio or television, or read a local newspaper, website or tweet, and not hear Nelson Mandela's name mentioned.

Friday marked the 19th anniversary of Mandela's inauguration as South Africa's first democratically elected — and first black — president, four years after he was released from prison.

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The Two-Way
3:09 pm
Sat May 4, 2013

Dream Wedding Is Now South Africa's Diplomatic Nightmare

The wedding party poses at the Sun City resort in South Africa, on Wednesday. South Africa's government announced the suspension of a slew of officials and military personnel on Friday as it tried to limit the political and diplomatic fallout from the lavish Indian wedding.
Gupta Family via AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 6:23 am

It's been dubbed Guptagate. The real-life story reads like a Hollywood — or Bollywood — script, and it's dominating the national conversation in South Africa.

It starts with a high-society wedding in South Africa, organized by three wealthy, well-connected and influential brothers named Gupta from India. Then the scandal begins: A private jet flies in 200 guests — including Bollywood stars — from India, landing at a restricted air force security base in Pretoria, allegedly without the appropriate clearance.

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The Changing Lives Of Women
1:00 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Lady Mechanic Initiative Trains Women For 'The Best Job'

Students at the Lady Mechanic Initiative in Lagos, Nigeria, work on cars in their open air workshop.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 8:09 am

The young women training to be mechanics at Nigeria's Lady Mechanic Initiative wear navy overalls and work boots and their hair is tucked under customized red caps as they repair vehicles in a garage. Customers come and go, dropping off and collecting their cars. Trainee Enogie Osagie says she faced great resistance at home when she started.

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Africa
3:15 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

S. African Leader Under Fire After Awkward Visit With Mandela

In this image taken from video, South African President Jacob Zuma sits with ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Monday. Mandela was hospitalized in late March with a lung infection, and in images from the visit, appeared largely unresponsive.
SABC AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:48 pm

In South Africa, controversial images of a frail and ashen Nelson Mandela being visited by South Africa's current president aired on national television this week. Some people claimed it was a political publicity stunt.

The footage is fueling fresh debate about what is proper and what constitutes invasion of privacy regarding the ailing, 94-year-old former president and anti-apartheid legend.

President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by two other top officials of the governing ANC party, visited Mandela at his Johannesburg home on Monday.

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Music Interviews
7:51 am
Sat April 20, 2013

An American In Mali, Teaching The Country's Sounds

Sara Nimaga plays the balafon in Paul Chandler's music class at the American International School in Bamako, Mali.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 6:33 am

Numbers are down at the American International School in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

In just over a year, the country has witnessed a rebellion, a military coup and the occupation by Islamist fighters of the desert northern region, recently largely liberated in a counteroffensive by French-led forces. Despite the troubles, the school is open and classes continue.

Teacher Paul Chandler is taking his combined class of 6th- and 7th-graders through their early paces, learning the Malian music they'll be performing at the annual school concert.

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Africa
3:11 am
Thu April 4, 2013

South Africans: Why Were Paratroopers In Central African Republic?

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 3:24 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

South Africa says its military is done trying to police another African country. Late last night, South Africans said they would withdraw their small military force from the Central African Republic. Ten days ago, rebels advanced on the capital of that country and killed 13 South African paratroopers. That prompted many South Africans to ask why the soldiers were there at all. The question here is whether the troops were protecting business interests linked to South Africa's governing party.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

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Africa
2:42 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Nelson Mandel's Condition Seems To Be Improving

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 4:24 am

Public expressions of concern are on full display as South Africans monitor the hospitalization of anti-apartheid hero and former president Nelson Mandela. The 94 year old is being treated for pneumonia.

Remembrances
8:55 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Nigeria's Outspoken Writer Chinua Achebe Dies At 82

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, who played a critical role in establishing post-colonial African literature, has died. The author of Things Fall Apart was 82.

The Two-Way
6:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Author Of 'Things Fall Apart,' Dies

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in January 2009.
Abayomi Adeshida AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:45 am

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Lagos, Nigeria, on the death of one of Africa's greatest contemporary writers. Quoting his publisher, AP, CNN, and the BBC are reporting Chinua Achebe has died.

Chinua Achebe who taught at colleges in the United States made literary history with his 1958 best-seller Things Fall Apart, a sobering tale about Nigeria at the beginning of its colonization.

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Africa
3:18 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Fastjet Brings High-Frequency, Low-Cost Flights To Africa

The first pan-African budget airline took to the skies in late November with a series of flights in Tanzania. Fastjet's aim is to offer a low-cost alternative to passengers accustomed to uncertain and costly air travel.

Religion
3:18 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Pope's Resignation An Opportunity For Africa's Cardinals

Priest Anthony Obanla says Mass at a church in Lagos, Nigeria. In Africa, where the Catholic Church continues to grow, worshipers and clergy hope to see one of their own rise to lead the faithful.
Sunday Alamba AP

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 8:03 pm

The names of African cardinals are popping up as possible contenders to succeed Pope Benedict as head of the Roman Catholic Church when he steps down at the end of the month.

The Mary Mother of Good Council School is one of a number of respected Roman Catholic schools overseen by the archdiocese of Accra, the capital of the West African nation of Ghana. The Metropolitan archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer-Buckle, who trained as a priest at pontifical universities in Rome, is upbeat about the continent's contribution to the Catholic Church.

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Sports
2:38 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

'Blade Runner' Athlete Charged With Murder Of Girlfriend

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 3:40 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee who made history last year by competing in the London Olympic Games, is in the headlines for a very different reason today. The South African runner and Paralympic athlete, known as the Blade Runner, is facing charges of murder. This, after his girlfriend was shot to death at his home in Pretoria early this morning.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF A NEWS CLIP)

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Africa
3:36 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Insurgents In Northern Mali Launch Guerrilla Attacks

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 4:50 am

It appears that the conflict in northern Mali is entering a new stage — insurgency.

Africa
2:37 pm
Sun February 3, 2013

Allegations Of Human Rights Abuse Abound In Mali

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 4:16 pm

As Malian forces backed by French and African troops have retaken the West African nation's contested northern region, there have been allegations of human rights abuses. Human Rights organizations accuse the Malian army of summary executions, among other abuses.

Africa
4:10 am
Thu January 31, 2013

African Forces May Have Trouble Holding On To French Gains

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 6:38 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Thursday it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The first phase of the French-led military intervention in Mali appears to be over. Radical Islamist fighters have been driven from the last major town they seized control of last year.

INSKEEP: France would like to step back now and play a supporting role for Malian troops and allied African forces. But as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Mali's capital, the biggest challenges really begin now.

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Africa
3:21 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Timbuktu Freed From Islamist Fighters

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 6:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The city of Timbuktu is free...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Mali, Mali, Mali, Mali...

INSKEEP: ...and residents cheered as French and Malian forces entered the city. Those forces swept aside Islamist rebels who'd controlled the place for months. The Islamists rule included amputations and the destroyed ancient tombs. It ended with the burning of a library housing priceless manuscripts.

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Africa
4:55 am
Sun January 27, 2013

In Fight Against Extremists, Mali Is Far From Alone

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 9:05 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The French-led military intervention in Mali is picking up momentum in the campaign to help the Malian government recapture Islamist-occupied strongholds in the north. And while French airpower has tipped the scales in the Malian government's favor, the question now is whether Mali's beleaguered army is up to the fight. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Bamako, Mali's capital city in the south.

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Africa
3:05 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Backed By French Might, Malian Troops Retake Diabaly

Malians gather around the remains of vehicles used by Islamist rebels that were destroyed by an earlier French airstrike, Jan. 23 in Diabaly, about 250 miles north of Bamako, Mali's capital.
Eric Feferberg AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 6:15 pm

The French-led operation in Mali, which is intended to drive back Islamist militants, appears to be gaining momentum. The U.S. and European powers are helping airlift French forces into the Sahara nation, and African soldiers from around the region are arriving to lend a hand.

In the past week, French airstrikes and ground troops have helped government forces retake the strategic town of Diabaly in central Mali — the first major victory in the fight to reclaim the north.

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Africa
2:22 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Mali Update

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 5:03 am

The French military continues its bombing raids in Northern Mali, where extremists, including an al-Qaida affiliate, have taken over. The French have pummeled rebel positions from the air, backing up Mali's beleaguered army on the ground.

Africa
1:25 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Clinics Come To The Rescue Of Ethiopia's Overworked Donkeys

A donkey bitten by a hyena is checked by a veterinarian as the owner calms the animal at The Donkey Sanctuary, a clinic near Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, in 2005.
Boris Heger AP

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 6:32 pm

In Ethiopia, the donkey is more than just a beast of burden.

The Horn of Africa nation is home to more than 6 million donkeys and comes second only to China in global donkey numbers. The country is both donkey heaven and donkey hell, but though the animal is highly prized, it can also be mistreated.

"In Ethiopia, there's a good saying: 'A farmer without a donkey is a donkey himself,' " says Bojia Endebu, a veterinary surgeon and seasoned donkey doctor. "Because the donkey does lots of work, so they are very valuable for Ethiopian farmers."

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Africa
3:29 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Voters Decide How To Share Ghana's Boom

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama arrives at a polling station to cast his vote.
Pius Utomi Ekpei AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 7:39 pm

Voting for a new president and parliament in Ghana has been extended into a second day in some areas due to glitches with the new biometric voter verification system.

Ghana, which began pumping crude oil in 2010 and is also a major cocoa and gold exporter, has gained an enviable reputation in its often-turbulent West African neighborhood. It's admired for being a relative oasis of stability and peace in the region — despite tensions in the build-up to the vote.

A Peaceful Democracy

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Africa
12:16 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

All Aboard South Africa's High-Speed Train

Passengers wait to board the Gautrain, Africa's first high-speed train, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 2, 2011. The train travels at speeds of up to 100 mph and makes commuting much easier for South Africans accustomed to congested roads and traffic jams.
Li Qihua Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 6:37 pm

Public transit in South Africa can be a bit of a nightmare. Many South Africans have had to depend on the ubiquitous taxivans, which are often overcrowded, dirty and driven recklessly.

But the continent's first rapid rail service, built to ease traffic congestion in South Africa's economic heart, is changing that.

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Africa
4:49 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Political Contest Plays Out In South African Court

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 9:25 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In South Africa, high stakes political drama is playing out in the courts and in the headlines there. A disgraced political firebrand expelled from the governing African National Congress for insubordination has worked himself back into the spotlight as a champion of striking mine workers. Julius Malema is denouncing the president, a man he once supported, as a fat cat growing rich on the backs of the masses. In turn, the rebel politician is facing money-laundering charges. From Johannesburg, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has this profile.

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Africa
3:17 am
Mon September 10, 2012

For Many S. Africans, Strikes Recall Apartheid Era

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 4:40 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

In South Africa, striking mineworkers are still locked in a deadly dispute over pay.

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Africa
6:35 pm
Sat August 25, 2012

Remembering Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's Champion

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Ethiopia's longtime prime minister died this week. Meles Zenawi was 57. He came to power in 1991 when a rebel army toppled that nation's Marxist dictator and the Ethiopian leader became a trusted U.S. ally in the war against terrorism. As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, he leaves behind a mixed legacy.

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Africa
3:53 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Mali's Cultural Heritage, Old And New, Faces Threats

Mali's popular Festival of the Desert, held each year near Timbuktu, attracts both local and international music stars. The festival took place in January, but the Islamists who have taken control of the area have since banned all entertainment.
Serge Daniel AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 9:43 am

Mali is a country rich in culture, both old and new.

The banging of hammers on silver echos through the main crafts market in Bamako, Mali's capital. It's usually teeming in a place where you can buy anything, from silver earrings to batik fabric, all of it handmade.

And despite its remote location, Mali has enhanced its cultural reputation in recent years with an annual international music and arts festival in the Sahara Desert near Timbuktu, drawing both African and Western artists.

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