NPR: 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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5:39am

Sat June 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

Tobacco Is Smokin' Again In Zimbabwe

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 10:40 am

A worker at Boka Tobacco auction floors displays some of the tobacco crop, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday May 14, 2013. The country's tobacco selling season kicked off in February and to date tobacco worth over $400 million dollars has been sold to buyers mostly from China and the European Union.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi AP

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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5:02pm

Wed June 17, 2015
Africa

Nigerians Express Outrage Over Parliament's 'Wardrobe Allowance'

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 6:27 pm

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

Transcript

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4:28pm

Mon June 15, 2015
Goats and Soda

Zimbabwe To Street Vendors: Pack Up, Clean Up, Ship Out!

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 7:54 pm

Street hawkers have taken over so many sidewalks in Harare's city center that some vendors are turning their cars into makeshift shops.
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi AP

"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.

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5:59pm

Wed June 3, 2015
Goats and Soda

How To Make A Living In Cash-Poor Zimbabwe

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:01 pm

Fortunate Nyakupinda earns a living by selling secondhand clothes from the back of her car.
Ofeibia Quist-Arcton NPR

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?

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4:29pm

Fri May 1, 2015
Africa

South African Government Denies Xenophobia Played Role In Man's Death

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 9:18 pm

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

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6:33pm

Sun April 26, 2015
Africa

South Africa's Xenophobic Attacks 'Vile,' Says Zulu King Accused Of Inciting Them

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 12:36 am

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, center, arrives at a Zulu gathering at a stadium in Durban, South Africa. Six people have died in anti-immigrant violence in the city in recent weeks, and another death has been reported in Johannesburg; Zwelithini is accused of inciting the attacks with incendiary comments, but says his remarks were taken out of context.
AP

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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5:08pm

Sun April 5, 2015
Africa

After Nigeria's Election, A Call For Unity

Originally published on Sun April 5, 2015 9:12 pm

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

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8:01am

Sat April 4, 2015
Africa

President-Elect Buhari Tells Nigerians Not To Expect 'Miracles'

Originally published on Sat April 4, 2015 10:30 am

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

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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6:47am

Mon March 30, 2015
Africa

Voting In Nigeria Affected By Isolated Violence And Irregularities

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 12:33 pm

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

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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5:05am

Fri March 20, 2015
Africa

Nigerian Army Advances Against Boko Haram As Election Looms

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:55 am

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

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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5:22pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Parallels

Boko Haram Takes A Page From ISIS Propaganda Playbook

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 6:55 pm

The most recent propaganda videos from Boko Haram have higher production values than in the past and other similarities to ISIS-produced videos.
Boko Haram Sendvid

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.

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5:06am

Thu March 5, 2015
Africa

Boko Haram Ramps Up Attacks Despite Effort To Repel Them

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 10:11 am

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

12:29pm

Sat February 28, 2015
Goats and Soda

While New England Gets Snow, West Africa Gets Sand

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 2:11 pm

The Harmattan haze can become so dense in Dakar, Senegal, it dims the sun and grounds flights.
Joe Penney Reuters /Landov

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.

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2:23pm

Mon January 26, 2015
Goats and Soda

Guinea's Grand Imam Pulls No Punches In His Ebola Message

Guinea's Grand Imam, El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, tells his fellow clerics: "If there is any doubt at all, then no one must touch the body."
Kevin Leahy 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.

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5:34pm

Tue January 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

Africa's Soccer Tourney Takes Guinea's Mind Off Ebola

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:22 am

Guinea's defender Fode Camara (left) heads the ball over Ivory Coast's forward Wilfried Bony in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Issouf Sanogo AFP/Getty Images

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.

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4:09pm

Mon January 19, 2015
Africa

School's Back On In Guinea: Reading, Writing, Temperature-Taking

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:38 am

Six-year old Hadja Sow (left) and a classmate on their first day back at school after a prolonged break because of Ebola.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

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 backpack, and they head out the door into their dad's car.

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5:01am

Mon January 19, 2015
Africa

Countdown To Zero: Guinea's Campaign To Conquer Ebola In 60 Days

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 2:34 pm

Cheerleaders with pompoms helped kick off a government campaign to eliminate Ebola from Guinea in 60 days.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Hundreds of spectators and government officials watched as music and fanfare filled the People's Palace in Conakry, Guinea. Cheerleaders danced vigorously, waving pompoms and twirling on stage. The festive event on Saturday kicked off the government's newest campaign: zero Ebola cases in 60 days.

"Guineans talk too much. People resist even the idea that Ebola exists," said the prime minister, Mohamed Said Fofana, when he took the stage. "Why do we refuse to accept what others have accepted? We really must get a grip on the situation."

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7:50am

Sat January 10, 2015
Africa

Nigerian Forces Fight To Free Town From Terrorists

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 11:31 am

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

Transcript

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12:37pm

Wed December 31, 2014
Goats and Soda

A Son Is Lost Without His Mother. So Is A Country

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 9:19 am

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh and her only child, Bankole Cardoso. Even after she was diagnosed with Ebola, her son says, "Her morale was not low. She is such a fighter."
Courtesy of Bankole Cardoso

She is one of the African health workers who caught Ebola and died. Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh was the head of First Consultants Medical Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. In July, Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer flew sick to the city from Monrovia, ended up at her clinic and turned out to have Ebola. He wanted to leave. Dr. Adadevoh and her team refused to let him go — if she had, he could have triggered a wide-scale epidemic in Lagos, a city of 20 million people.

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12:09pm

Tue December 30, 2014
Goats and Soda

Ebola Survivor: Faith And Oral Rehydration Salts Got Her Through

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 6:53 pm

Dr. Ada Igonoh is an Ebola survivor.
Akintunde Akinleye Reuters /Landov

Dr. Ada Igonoh says her faith and ORS (oral rehydration salts) helped her pull through after she tested positive for Ebola. The 28-year-old Nigerian doctor was on the medical team that cared for the country's first Ebola patient, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who flew into Lagos sick and died at the clinic where she worked. Nigeria was hailed for halting what many feared could have been a catastrophic outbreak. Dr. Igonoh shares her story of fear, faith and recovery.

Tell me a little about yourself.

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4:29pm

Thu December 25, 2014
NPR Ed

Where Ebola Has Closed Schools, A Radio Program Provides A Faint Signal Of Hope

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 12:13 pm

Florence Allen Jones, right, is part of the education ministry's classes-by-radio team.
John W. Poole/NPR

Florence Allen Jones used to teach in Washington, D.C., before coming back home to Liberia.

Now she's part of the education ministry's teaching-by-radio team. Working with UNICEF and another nonprofit, Talking Drum, in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, the government aims to provide lessons to children across the country, hit by the Ebola outbreak. Most schools closed this past summer and will likely remain closed for months.

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3:23am

Wed December 24, 2014
Goats and Soda

Christmas In Liberia: Ebola Fears, No Snow, Holiday Spirit

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 8:43 am

A man peddles plastic Christmas trees and lights in downtown Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Ebola has cast a shadow over Liberia, but it can't stop Christmas.

Despite the trauma of the past year, Liberians are trying to have a happy holiday season. Carols are playing on the radio and there's lots of decorating — and painting — going on.

"At a certain time of the year we want our homes to look good," says journalist Siatta Scott Johnson. "It's like a competition in Liberia when it comes to the festive season."

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7:55am

Sun December 14, 2014
Goats and Soda

Gritty Ganta: The Liberian Town That Can't Catch A Break

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 11:16 am

The Liberia-Guinea border has been closed since the early days of the Ebola outbreak. The Liberian city of Ganta — about a mile from the border — has historically been a hub of commerce, and was hit hard by the closure.
John W. Poole NPR

Ganta is the Liberian city that never sleeps. That's what local businessman Prince Haward says of the town of 40,000, one of the country's largest cities and a crossroads for travelers in the southeastern region: "Ganta is a nonsleeping city ... a business-oriented city."

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3:33am

Fri December 12, 2014
Goats and Soda

Liberia's Daily Talk: All The News That Fits On A Blackboard

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 1:36 pm

The Daily Talk uses chalk, photos and Liberian slang to spread the latest news. Editor Alfred Sirleaf set up the blackboard on Monrovia's main thoroughfare.
John W. Poole NPR

Just off Tubman Boulevard — Monrovia's busy main thoroughfare — stands a plywood hut with a large blackboard at the front, in three panels. On them — written in clear, bold white chalk lettering — is a form of newsreel: mini-articles and editorials, as well as graphics and illustrations. The creator of Daily Talk — this Liberian journal with a difference — is Alfred Sirleaf. He's 41 and has been "writing" the news since 2000, three years before the civil war ended.

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3:11pm

Mon December 8, 2014
Goats and Soda

Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 10:42 am

To ward off Ebola, a worker washes his hands at a construction site in Monrovia.
Pascal Guyot AFP/Getty Images

For months, Liberia was the country worst-hit by the Ebola outbreak. But the wards in Liberia's Ebola treatment units now stand virtually empty. The number of newly reported cases fell from almost 300 cases a week in mid-September to fewer than 100 by mid-October.

But that doesn't mean it's time to take it easy. In fact, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has just announced a new campaign, Ebola Must Go, which focuses on the role of the community.

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7:38am

Sun December 7, 2014
Africa

In Liberia, 'Looking Good Is A Business'

Originally published on Sun December 7, 2014 12:25 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Liberians have been gripped by crisis after crisis. A long and brutal civil war shattered the West African country and now Ebola. But NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been looking into another far lighter side of life in that country - fashion.

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4:20pm

Fri December 5, 2014
Goats and Soda

Liberian President's Ambitious Goal: No New Ebola Cases By Christmas

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 8:58 am

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits for a portrait before an NPR interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to ring in the holidays with an ambitious goal: no new cases of Ebola in her country by Dec. 25.

"We believe we had to set a target that gave our people hope, a target that would make them more committed to taking all the precautionary measures," she says. "Yes, it's called ambitious, but sometimes you have to take a risk in being ambitious."

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2:06pm

Sat November 22, 2014
Parallels

Rumors Of Boko Haram Attack Send Nigerian Refugees Fleeing Again

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 3:54 pm

Civilians who had just recently arrived in Yola prepare to flee again, this time in a large open-top truck headed to the city of Jos.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

As Nigeria's military continues to battle Boko Haram fighters for control of towns and territory in the turbulent northeast, fearful residents are leaving — or being driven out of town. More than 200 schoolgirls, abducted by the Islamist extremists in April, are still missing.

Hoisting the black flag of al-Qaida, the insurgents have imposed strict Islamic law in areas under their control, vowing to establish a caliphate.

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5:58pm

Mon November 10, 2014
Parallels

For Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram, A Desperate Life On The Run

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 10:39 am

Ramatu Usman, shown here with one of her sons, is a 37-year-old mother of eight. She says she was separated from one of her sons, 6-year-old Yahaya Buba, following an attack. He is still missing.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Hopes were raised when the Nigerian military announced a cease-fire last month with the militants of Boko Haram, who have been fighting for years to impose Islamic law on Nigeria.

But the Islamist extremists denied there was a truce and have intensified deadly attacks and kidnappings in recent weeks, seizing territory said to be the size of Maryland and declaring a caliphate in the zone under their control.

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6:32am

Mon November 10, 2014
Africa

Suicide Bomber In School Uniform Targets High School

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 8:34 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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