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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.

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." The lion with the distinctive black mane was shot with a crossbow by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who's said to have paid $50,000 for the hunt. It's been reported that the lion, who wore a GPS collar and was part of...

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: In Senegal today, the war crimes trial of a former ruler of Chad was postponed to September. The government of Hissene Habre is accused of killing 40,000 people. The delay is to give his new court-appointed lawyers time to prepare their case. Habre has lived in exile in Senegal for 25 years. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that he had to be forced to appear in court. OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE:...

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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. Closely behind the auctioneers follow the tobacco buyers. They indicate interest with a wink, a nod, two fingers up,...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: The Twitter-sphere in Nigeria is buzzing with outrage. There are reports that lawmakers there are poised to share in a $45 million wardrobe allowancem - this, in a county where many people survive on a few dollars a day. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: News of Nigeria's purported sartorial allowance for members of Parliament has fueled a frenzied debate. Most people...

"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...

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? In Copacabana, an area of downtown Harare, the capital city, people are eking out...

The men were chasing him with machetes, clubs and "anything that can hurt." They were shouting, "Go back to your countries and leave everything. What you possess here is not yours because you got it in South Africa." Joe Tapera, 35, came to South Africa eight years ago from Zimbabwe. He works as an electrician. But last month, he had to make a mad dash into a nearby bush to escape an angry mob, abandoning his belongings at home. Tapera now stays at Chatsworth camp, a shelter for displaced...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: In South Africa, seven people were killed in recent violence against foreigners. One of those killings was captured by a photographer. The photos show a man being stabbed and beaten to death in broad daylight in Johannesburg. South Africa's president angered many by suggesting that the dead man, a Mozambican, was the victim of random crime, not xenophobia. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. OFEIBEA...

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. The king has no official power in modern South Africa, but he commands the loyalty of about 10 million Zulu people, the country's...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: We've been reporting this week on the latest migrant tragedies in the Mediterranean. Here's what we know. Hundreds are feared dead this week after boats capsized off the coast of Libya. At the same time, more than 10,000 people have been rescued this week alone. And now a grisly story. Italian police say Muslim migrants on a different boat threw 12 Christians off of it. They were also trying to make it...

Each day, #BringBackOurGirls campaigners wearing their trademark red gather at Unity Fountain in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja. "Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, we shall always fight for our girls," they chant. "All we are saying is bring back our girls now and alive!" They're trying to keep up the momentum in the hopes of finding more than 200 missing Nigerian schoolgirls, who were abducted in the remote northeastern town of Chibok last April — and many others who have been...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARUN RATH, HOST: Last weekend, we reported on Nigeria's historic presidential election. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan lost to former military leader Muhammadu Buhari. No incumbent president has ever lost an election in Nigeria, and some worried if the president would willingly step down. Those fears evaporated this week when President Jonathan called Buhari to congratulate him. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. ...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Nigeria defied predictions of widespread election violence and for the first time has elected an opposition challenger. Former military leader Muhammadu Buhari will take power next month. But as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, no one is underestimating the many challenges ahead. OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Outgoing president Goodluck...

In the middle of the night, after a long day waiting for election results on Tuesday, supporters of former military leader Muhammadu Buhari took to the streets of Abuja to celebrate his historic victory in Nigeria's presidential election. Many were chanting, "Change" and carrying traditional brooms, the symbol of Buhari's party. Jubilant supporters, men and women, were sweeping the ground and the air, saying their leader would sweep out corruption and the extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Nigeria is poised to make history. An opposition candidate appears to have un-seated a sitting president through the ballot box for the first time ever. This could also be the first peaceful transfer of power in Africa's largest democracy. Results show voters chose former military leader Muhammadu Buhari by a wide margin to be their next president. Among the president-elect's first challenges, making...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Africa's largest democracy and economic powerhouse, Nigeria, chooses its next president tomorrow. The incumbent Goodluck Jonathan hopes he'll be re-elected. His main opposition challenger, a former military leader, positions himself as tough on security and corruption. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has more. (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Nigeria's airwaves and television screens have...

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: The extremist group Boko Haram became notorious beyond its borders for taking territory, along with captives, across a large swath of Nigeria. Now Nigeria's military says that with the help of regional troops, its forces have retaken key towns captured by Boko Haram. Those successes come a little more than a week before a vote in which President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking re-election. Nigeria...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: Two of the world's most ruthless extremist groups might be joining forces - if not on the ground, at least in spirit and online. The leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram is purportedly pledging allegiance to the head of the Islamic State. This statement from the Boko Haram leader came in a tweeted recording. The authenticity of that recording cannot be verified. But if it is true, this could give the Islamic...

In its latest video, Islamist extremists from the Nigerian group Boko Haram display the bodies of two men accused of spying. They have been beheaded. Gone are Boko Haram's occasional grainy videos, replaced by slick productions apparently inspired by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. It's a development that may indicate a shift in allegiance by Boko Haram away from al-Qaida. For the past few years, Abubakar Shekau has been the face of the Boko Haram insurgency — dominating the group's videos...

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Would you kindly bear with me a little while I have a good old moan, please? I'm feeling rather wretched. No, not because I've finally kicked a lingering lurgy that turned out to be bronchitis and stole my voice. But because one of the reasons I blame for the illness is back: the Harmattan. You know that saying about an ill wind? Well, that ill wind is the Harmattan. Seasonal sandy, dust-filled, hot trade winds blow in from the Sahara Desert and sweep across West Africa, including the coastal...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: For a long time, the Islamist extremists known as Boko Haram mostly struck in Nigeria, but now the group is launching attacks in neighboring countries, too. The violence has intensified ahead of national elections in Nigeria. They were scheduled for last Saturday, but have been postponed. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton joins us now to talk about this. Hi, Ofeibea. OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Greetings....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: A cease-fire deal was signed today in South Sudan, a bid to end a bloody conflict that's devastated the country. It's supposed to be finalized March 5. But as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, it's not clear how much progress has actually been made. OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: East African mediators announced the agreement early today after yet another round of talks between representatives of...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: Nigeria is just days away from nationwide elections, and the threat from the militant group Boko Haram just seems to be growing. The group has, for the second time in a week, attacked a major city in the Northeast that was the birthplace of the Islamist insurgency. More than six people were reportedly killed in this assault which the military says it was able to repel. We spoke a short while go with NPR...

"Ebola — you have to do more," roars the barrel-bellied cleric El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, with his white beard and mustache, in a snow-white boubou, the traditional flowing gown of West Africa. That's the message he delivered over the weekend to hundreds of his fellow clerics, who gathered in Kindia, the third largest city in Guinea and a major crossroads. Many of the residents still blame Westerners for bringing the virus to their country. His words are vital. Liberia and Sierra Leone...

Red, gold and green – Guinea's national colors — filled the streets of the capital, Conakry, early this morning. Guineans of all ages proudly wore the colors on their T-shirts, headbands, dresses and shorts. Children, with their cheeks and foreheads painted, ran around the street cheering, blowing whistles and waving their nation's flags. But by 3 p.m. the streets were dead. Offices and businesses closed early — so that people could watch Guinea take on Ivory Coast in Africa's premier soccer...

At the crack of dawn, the Sow family — parents and four children, two girls and two boys — are up at their home in Conakry, Guinea's capital.
Sitting on a wooden stool, Aissatou Sow bends over to light a gas stove on the floor and heat up a breakfast of fried fish, vegetables and french fries, plus hot milk and fruit. El Hadj Alhassane is 11; his sister Hadja is 6. They're off to school after being out of class for six months. Big bro helps little sis zip up her...

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