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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4:11pm

Tue July 15, 2014
The Salt

U.S. Customs Seize Giant African Snails Bound For Dinner Plates

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 12:21 pm

A single snail from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1. Officials said that the 35 pounds of snails arrived from Nigeria along with paperwork stating they were for human consumption.
Greg Bartman AP

Oh no! Snails are getting a bad name in the U.S.

I'm not talking about the delicate garlic-and-butter escargots that the French favor and savor.

It's giant African land snails, also known as Archachatina marginata, banana rasp snails or a number of other names they go by.

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4:02pm

Mon May 5, 2014
Africa

Extremist Group Claims Credit For Mass Kidnapping In Nigeria

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 6:35 pm

Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed credit for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls. The girls remain missing, and parents are pressing the government to find and bring them home. The president's wife has ordered the arrest of the parent who is leading the protests demanding government action.

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4:54pm

Thu May 1, 2014
Africa

With Few Answers On Missing Teens, Frustration Simmers In Nigeria

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 8:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Nigeria, a large number of schoolgirls, possibly a couple hundred, are still missing after they were abducted by suspected Islamist insurgents more than two weeks ago. It was thought that the teens had been trucked to a notorious militant hideout in northeastern Nigeria. Latest reports say they may have been spirited across Nigeria's borders to neighboring countries. The dearth of information from authorities is causing outrage and is putting pressure on the Nigerian government.

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5:21pm

Sun April 27, 2014
Africa

'Have Mercy On Our Little Ones': Kidnapping Agonizes Nigerians

Originally published on Sun April 27, 2014 6:23 pm

Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.
Afolabi Sotunde Reuters/Landov

There is a grim mood of outrage in Nigeria. In the faraway, northeastern town of Chibok, more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school dorms in the dead of night nearly two weeks ago.

Chibok is a mixed Christian and Muslim community in predominately Muslim northern Nigeria. The attackers are suspected Islamist extremists. Under pressure, the Nigerian government is vowing to rescue the missing students, but the military is being blamed for failing to free the teens and crush an increasingly deadly insurgency.

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6:16pm

Wed April 16, 2014
Africa

Rescuers Deliver Most, But Not All, Nigerian Schoolgirls To Safety

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 8:20 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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9:56am

Sat April 12, 2014
Africa

Guineans Scramble To Defend Themselves Against Deadly Virus

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 1:26 pm

A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has the country on edge. Guineans have never experienced the deadly virus, and are learning quickly how to protect themselves.

1:52pm

Fri April 11, 2014
Shots - Health News

How A Person Can Recover From Ebola

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:38 pm

Testing for Ebola, a scientist in a mobile lab at Gueckedou, Guinea, separates blood cells from plasma cells to isolate the virus's genetic sequence.
Misha Hussain Reuters /Landov

At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.

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3:51am

Fri April 11, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Ebola Survivors: Reborn But Not Always Embraced

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 3:32 pm

Rose Komano, 18 and the mother of three, was the first Ebola patient to overcome the virus in southeastern Guinea, the epicenter of the outbreak. On April 3, she posed at a health clinic in the Gueckedou region.
Misha Hussain Reuters /Landov

They call them the "Lazarus" cases, after the Biblical character who died but was revived by Jesus. They are survivors of the latest outbreak of Ebola.

Ebola often grabs global headlines as the killer virus that can result in a death rate of up to 90 percent. But in Guinea, the death rate in the current outbreak has been about 60 percent. So there are survivors — to the delight of the overworked doctors, health workers and, of course, the patients who have recovered.

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5:25pm

Tue April 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Ebola Outbreak 3 Weeks In: Dire But Not Hopeless

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 10:15 pm

The new normal in Guinea is washing hands with a mixture of water and bleach--shown here at the border entrance of Buruntuma, in the Gabu area on Tuesday.
Tiago Petinga EPA /LANDOV

Guinea is on high alert. At the international airport, travelers' temperatures are monitored for signs of infection. In the capital city of Conakry, people rarely shake hands and are advised to regularly wash their hands with bleach-diluted water.

This is what life is like nearly three weeks after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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4:16pm

Tue March 25, 2014
News

Facing Ebola Outbreak, Officials Must Contain Both Virus And Panic

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 7:28 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Dozens of deaths are reported in Guinea in West Africa, the results of the Ebola virus. Health officials and aid agencies are working to contain both the disease and panic about the outbreak. We'll explore the origins of the deadly virus in a moment. First, NPR Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on the outbreak.

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4:36pm

Thu March 20, 2014
Africa

On Streets In Senegal, Thousands Of Boys Are Forced To Beg

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 6:20 pm

Human Rights Watch is urging Senegal to implement a law criminalizing forced begging. Many families are misled into entrusting their children to people acting as Islamic teachers, who then exploit thousands of young boys.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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12:45pm

Fri January 10, 2014
Africa

Central African Republic President Resigns

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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9:01am

Sat December 28, 2013
Africa

In Conflict-Torn Africa, Senegal Shows A Way To Religious Harmony

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 11:35 am

Inter-religious tensions have been in the headlines in parts of Africa lately. Christian-Muslim clashes have left many dead in places like Nigeria and Central African Republic. But there are also examples of peaceful inter-religious co-existence in Africa, such as Senegal.

6:16pm

Fri December 13, 2013
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

South Africans Reflect On Mandela's 'Rainbow Nation'

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 7:39 pm

A South African boy stands in front of a mural of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, earlier this month.
Veronique Tadjo for NPR

At the 1964 trial that convicted Nelson Mandela and his co-accused, and sent them to prison for life, he made a statement to the packed courthouse, which he repeated on his release in 1990, after 27 years in detention.

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7:15am

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

As Mandela Lies In State, South Africa Says Goodbye

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:13 pm

Graca Machel bids farewell to her husband, Nelson Mandela, whose body lay in state Wednesday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Marco Longari AFP/Getty Images

Amid a solemn atmosphere, the body of Nelson Mandela lay in state Wednesday at an amphitheater in South Africa's capital of Pretoria, the exact spot where he was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994, reconciling a land that had been torn by racial divisions for centuries.

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5:33pm

Sat December 7, 2013
Africa

South Africans Mourn Mandela, Celebrate His Life

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 6:33 pm

South Africa's official period of mourning for former President Nelson Mandela will culminate in his funeral a week from Sunday. Mandela's death left South Africans with "a sense of profound and enduring loss," says the nation"s president, Jacob Zuma. His compatriots, as well as foreign visitors, are flocking in homage to the Mandela homes in Soweto and Johannesburg.

3:16am

Wed November 20, 2013
Africa

In Nigeria's Bloody Fight, Who's Gaining The Upper Hand?

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 10:51 am

Men walk amid rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik in northeast Nigeria, on Sept. 19. The Islamist group has been waging an insurgency in northern and central Nigeria for the past four years and was recently placed on the U.S. list of terrorist groups.
Reuters/Landov

For four years, the Islamist militants of Boko Haram have been waging a deadly campaign in northern and central Nigeria, killing thousands of people. In response, the Nigerian military is cracking down on the group, and the United States last week designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

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3:26am

Mon September 2, 2013
Crime In The City

Hardcore With A Heart: Joburg Thrillers Star A Spunky P.I.

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 5:54 pm

Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. She edits and writes for the annual publication Best of South Africa.
Soho Crime

South Africa's commercial capital, Johannesburg, is a mixture of the old Wild West and a complex, modern African hub — at least, that's how crime novelist Jassy Mackenzie describes it. Mackenzie was born across the border, in Zimbabwe, but she moved to Johannesburg — Joburg for short — as a child, and she's a passionate champion of the city.

"I love the energy of Johannesburg," Mackenzie says. "People are open. People communicate. People are friendly in a brash, big-city way, which I love. ... [it's] the New York of South Africa!"

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6:05pm

Wed July 31, 2013
Africa

Opposition Claims Zimbabwe Elections Were Manipulated

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The people of Zimbabwe cast ballots today for their next president. It's a two-horse race. Longtime president Robert Mugabe is once again being challenged by opposition leader and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Violence and fear that followed an election five years ago have eased, but the opposition is again making claims that the election has been manipulated.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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4:26pm

Tue July 30, 2013
Africa

Zimbabweans Hope For Fair And Peaceful Presidential Election

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 8:43 pm

A newspaper headline calls for the defeat of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on the eve of elections in Zimbabwe on Tuesday in Harare.
AP

Zimbabweans vote for a new president Wednesday, after a violent and disputed election in 2008 and five anxious and turbulent years since.

The much anticipated vote ends a power-sharing deal between veteran leader Robert Mugabe and his main political rival, who is the leading challenger in the presidential race.

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5:30am

Sat May 11, 2013
Africa

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

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 10:11 am

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

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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3:00am

Thu May 2, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Lady Mechanic Initiative Trains Women For 'The Best Job'

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 10:09 am

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

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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4:45pm

Wed May 1, 2013
Africa

S. African Leader Under Fire After Awkward Visit With Mandela

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:48 pm

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

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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4:42am

Mon April 1, 2013
Africa

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.

10:55am

Fri March 22, 2013
Remembrances

Nigeria's Outspoken Writer Chinua Achebe Dies At 82

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

8:29am

Fri March 22, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 1:45 pm

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

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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5:18am

Sat February 16, 2013
Religion

Pope's Resignation An Opportunity For Africa's Cardinals

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 10:03 pm

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

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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5:21am

Tue January 29, 2013
Africa

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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3:25am

Thu January 10, 2013
Africa

Clinics Come To The Rescue Of Ethiopia's Overworked Donkeys

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 8:32 pm

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

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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5:29am

Sat December 8, 2012
Africa

Voters Decide How To Share Ghana's Boom

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 9:39 pm

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

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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