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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Music Interviews
9:51 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 8:33 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
4:42 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Nelson Mandel's Condition Seems To Be Improving

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 6:24 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
10:55 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
8:29 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 1:45 pm

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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Religion
5:18 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 10:03 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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Africa
5:21 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Timbuktu Freed From Islamist Fighters

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 8:36 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
3:25 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 8:32 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
5:29 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 9:39 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
2:32 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 8:37 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
5:17 am
Mon September 10, 2012

For Many S. Africans, Strikes Recall Apartheid Era

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 6:40 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
1:53 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Despite Critics, Gambia Plans Dozens Of Executions

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh says all 47 death-row inmates will be executed by mid-September. Nine were killed this week by firing squad. Gambia's human rights record has frequently come under criticism during the 18 years of rule by Jammeh, shown here attending the African Union summit last month in Ethiopia.
Simon Maina AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 8:16 pm

There is growing international criticism over plans by Gambia's hard-line president to execute all of the country's death-row inmates within the next couple of weeks.

Gambia's leader, President Yahya Jammeh, has long faced criticism for his human rights record. In a recent speech marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, the president vowed to put to death all prisoners facing the death penalty by mid-September, as a way to curb crime.

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Africa
3:05 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Mali In Crisis Fractures Along Twin Fault Lines

Militiaman from the Ansar Dine radical Islamic group ride on an armed vehicle between Gao and Kidal in northeastern Mali in June. Jihadists currently control the country's north.
Adama Diarra Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 6:10 pm

A rebellion in northern Mali, followed by a military coup in the south, has shattered the veneer of stability in a country that was hailed for 20 years as a model democracy in turbulent West Africa.

Now Mali is facing twin crises, prompting regional and international fears that the north — currently controlled by jihadists — is a terrorist safe haven. And the politicians who are meant to be fixing the problems are bickering.

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Africa
5:53 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 11:43 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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Africa
4:59 am
Wed August 1, 2012

As Islamists Gain, Mali's Tradition Under Threat

A soldier wears a button bearing the image of coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo with the words 'President, CNRDRE,' the French acronym of the ruling junta, as he stands guard at junta headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako, Mali.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:31 am

Hard-line Islamists in northern Mali stoned a reportedly unmarried couple to death for adultery last Sunday. Analysts worry this is growing evidence of the rebel fighters' avowed intention to impose strict Islamic law in the vast territory under their control.

Another version of the story put about by an al-Qaida-linked militant group is that the couple was married but engaging in extramarital affairs.

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Africa
5:21 am
Mon July 9, 2012

South Sudan Struggles 1 Year After Independence

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 6:47 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

This was the scene one year ago today in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We hereby declare Southern Sudan to be an independent and sovereign state.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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Africa
6:10 am
Sun May 20, 2012

South Sudanese Children Find Hope In Education

Students like those of Good Hope Basic Primary School in South Sudan are still catching up nearly a year after independence from Sudan.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Sun May 20, 2012 7:46 pm

The teachers' staff-room is a charming thatched building adjacent to the classrooms overlooking the dusty recreation and assembly ground at Good Hope Basic Primary School in Bentiu, the capital of oil-rich Unity State in South Sudan.

Bentiu is near the disputed border with Sudan and within striking distance of Sudanese fighter jets and warplanes.

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Africa
12:33 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Civilians Flee, Soldiers Dig In On Sudanese Frontier

Nyachieng Nguot Teng, 25, lost her left leg and her 7-month-old son suffered a fractured leg when a Sudanese bomb fell on her hut in Lalat, South Sudan, on May 5. The United Nations is trying to prevent the recent fighting between the two Sudans from escalating into full-scale war.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 7:16 pm

There's a tense calm at South Sudan's front line, just 10 miles from the frontier with Sudan, its neighbor to the north. South Sudanese commander Maj. Gen. Mangar Buong says his troops remain on alert and on the defensive.

There is not a civilian in sight. They all fled the area, known as Panakuach, after Sudan's recent aerial bombardments and escalating concerns about a full-scale war.

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Africa
2:28 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Desperate Sudanese Flee Bombing In Nuba Mountains

A displaced woman and her child from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan wait outside the Yida refugee camp registration center in Yida, South Sudan April 26. Thousands of people from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan have fled to Yida to escape recent fighting and airstrikes by Sudan's Armed Forces.
Adriane Ohanesian AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 7:41 am

The two Sudans appear to be complying with a U.N. ceasefire ultimatum, which came into force on Friday — ending weeks of bitter border fighting over oil.

But there remains a separate conflict in the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan that has forced thousands to flee bombardment and hunger for newly independent neighbor South Sudan.

Those refugees are streaming into the Yida camp in South Sudan, across the border from the Nuba Mountains in the South Kordofan area, Sudan's last remaining oil-producing state.

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Africa
5:55 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Diplomats Up Efforts To Avert War Between Sudans

Sudanese soldiers walk in the oil town of Heglig on April 24. South Sudanese forces occupied Heglig last month. The international community called on the South to pull out, which it says it did.
Ebrahim Hamid AFp/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 10:43 am

Sudan and South Sudan are facing the threat of United Nations sanctions if they fail to stop fighting along their disputed frontier in the Horn of Africa.

A unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution, which condemns the surge of border violence, orders the two Sudans to cease hostilities within two days and resume negotiations within two weeks.

The U.N. resolution endorses an African Union road map it hopes will avert a return to war.

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Africa
6:56 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Turmoil Erupts In West African Nation Of Mali

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The nation of Mali is in turmoil. Within two short weeks, the apparently stable West African democracy has gone from preparing for presidential elections to a military coup. Neighboring countries are imposing a total embargo, demanding the coup leaders step down. Add to the mix a separatist rebellion in the north that has captured the fabled desert city of Timbuktu. From Mali's capital, Bamako, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

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Africa
8:16 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Congo Warlord Convicted Of Recruiting Child Soldiers

Judges at a war crimes tribunal convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of snatching children from the street and turning them into killers. A sentencing hearing will now be scheduled. Lubanga faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Africa
6:37 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Senegal's Early Vote Tally Indicates Runoff Ahead

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 7:21 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People in Senegal voted over the weekend, an election overshadowed by protests and violence. People managed to keep the actual voting mostly peaceful. Now, it looks like they'll have to vote again. A run-off seems likely in the election that features an 85-year-old president who changed the law in order to seek a third term. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Observers Fear Violence-Marred Election In Senegal

With just two days left before Senegal's presidential election, mediation efforts are underway to try to calm a political standoff in the West African nation that has led to violent protests.

Africa
3:46 am
Sun February 19, 2012

'Enough Is Enough' Say Sengalese Rappers

Police arrest Kilifa, center, one of two leaders of Senegal's rapper-led youth movement on Thursday in Dakar.
AFP/Getty Images

Senegal's capital of Dakar remains jittery, with the youth and the riot police locked in running street battles.

The police are using teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon spray to chase away angry opposition demonstrators, including rappers from the Y'en a Marre movement. Their name means "We're Fed Up, Enough is Enough."

This past week, a planned overnight sleep-in protest was broken up by the security forces. Founding member and rapper, Djily Baghdad, blames Abdoulaye Wade for the ban, the crackdown and for overstaying his welcome as president of Senegal.

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Africa
12:01 am
Tue February 14, 2012

At 85, Senegal's Defiant President Seeks A New Term

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, greets supporters during a campaign rally in Dakar last week. He is seeking a third term. Critics say he is violating the constitution and should step down.
Gabriela Barnuevo AP

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 10:54 am

The Senegalese are known for campaigning loudly, musically and enthusiastically, yet the country's reputation for democracy and stability in turbulent West Africa has taken a knock as it prepares for elections on Feb. 26.

When Senegal's top court gave its blessing last month to President Abdoulaye Wade's third-term ambitions, his opponents angrily took to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval.

Senegal was tense as police clashed with protesters demanding that the president withdraw his candidacy.

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