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.

Pages

3:46am

Sun February 19, 2012
Africa

'Enough Is Enough,' Say Senegalese Rappers

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 8:53 am

Police arrest Kilifa, a leader of Senegal's rapper-led youth movement, in Dakar on Thursday.
AFP/Getty Images

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

Riot police are firing tear gas on rock-throwing protesters who oppose President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term in office. With a week to go until the presidential vote, opposition demonstrations have been banned, but crowds have taken to the streets and the atmosphere is becoming increasingly tense.

Some of the protests have been led by rap artists. They have been mobilizing the youth and putting pressure on Senegal's leader to step down.

Read more

12:01am

Tue February 14, 2012
Africa

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

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

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

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.

Read more

3:00pm

Sun January 29, 2012
Africa

Attacks By Nigerian Muslim Group Stirs Fear

A radical Islamist group in northern Nigeria has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bombing attacks last week that left more than 200 people dead. Boko Haram's campaign of violence has left minority Christians on edge in the city of Kano.

12:06pm

Fri January 27, 2012
Africa

After Bombings, An Exodus From A Nigerian City

Glory Ndudi, a Christian, and her five children board a bus headed out of town on Wednesday. The recent bomb attacks that have targeted churches in Kano, Nigeria, have led to an exodus of Christians from the city.
Grant Clark NPR

The New Road bus station in the heart of Kano is a scene of bedlam.

Men, women and children are milling around, with huge bundles and baggage in all shapes and sizes, waiting to be loaded onto half a dozen buses. Others are already onboard. They're in a desperate hurry to head south, leaving behind this troubled city in the north of Nigeria.

Read more

12:01am

Wed January 25, 2012
Africa

Nigeria's President Under Pressure To Quell Violence

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (left) walks with the Emir of Kano Ado Bayero during a one-day visit to the city that was rocked by recent attacks.
Aminu Abuabakar AFP/Getty Images

Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's Muslim north, is an ancient, sprawling city of more than 9 million. Last Friday, the Muslim day of prayers was shattered by a series of coordinated bomb blasts.

Just down the street from one of the main market areas in the city, the street remains blocked off from a police station hit in the attacks. The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

Sagir Ali, a security guard at a parking lot at the market, says he watched as nearby government offices were attacked.

Read more

5:05pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Africa

Nigeria Rattled By Strikes, Sectarian Violence

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 5:59 pm

The Nigerian government removed fuel subsidies, which drove up prices and prompted nationwide strikes this week. Here, a young man protests in front of burning tires in the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday.
Sunday Alamba AP

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is facing the most sustained challenge to his presidency as he confronts crises on two fronts.

His government recently removed fuel subsidies, which has sent transportation costs soaring and prompted nationwide strikes that were in their third day Wednesday.

And a radical Muslim group is warning of renewed sectarian violence in a country that has a roughly equal split between Muslims and Christians.

Read more

4:00am

Thu January 5, 2012
Africa

Senegal Singer To Run For President

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 7:00 am

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour performs at a concert in November in Tunisia paying tribute to Tunisian youth and the revolution that inspired the Arab Spring. The popular international celebrity has announced plans to stand in his country's presidential election in February.
Anis Mili Reuters/Landov

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour made his name in music, and now he wants to be president of his homeland.

N'Dour gained an international audience in 1994 with his hit song "Seven Seconds," with Neneh Cherry. He went on to earn a Grammy in 2004 for the album Egypt, becoming one of Africa's most influential and popular singers.

Read more

4:00am

Tue December 6, 2011
Africa

Fears Of Violence Over Congo Election Results

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 8:21 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On November 28th, elections were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were only the second democratic polls in the nation's turbulent half-century of independence, and even before voters went to the polls there were signs that all was not well.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Violence marred the run-up to the actual voting day, so polling was extended in some areas up to three days. Opposition candidates said the election itself was tainted.

Read more

4:00am

Thu November 17, 2011
Africa

Congolese Presidential Candidate Orders Jail Breaks

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 12:40 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Voters in the Congo head to the polls at the end of this month. The campaigning has been beset by violence which threatens to undermine an electoral process in a giant nation that's at the heart of Africa. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Campaigning took a stormy turn when veteran Congolese opposition politician and presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi sent a bombshell. He proclaimed himself president and ordered his supporters to stage jailbreaks to free their detained colleagues.

Read more

4:00am

Tue November 1, 2011
Africa

Somali Militants Vow Payback For Kenya's Offensive

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 10:28 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Yet another foreign army has sent its troops into Somalia.

INSKEEP: Many years ago, American troops took positions there.

MONTAGNE: More recently, forces from neighboring Ethiopia, with U.S. backing, have moved against Islamist groups.

Read more

8:00am

Sun October 23, 2011
Africa

Gadhafi's Death Gets Mixed Reactions In Africa

Moammar Gadhafi styled himself as Africa's king of kings and long pursued his grand plan to unite the continent under his rule. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports on how his brutal end is resonating in Sub-Saharan Africa.

4:00am

Tue October 18, 2011
Africa

Liberia's Presidential Runoff Set For Next Month

The election pits Nobel Peace Prize winner and incumbent, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, against fellow Harvard graduate Winston Tubman, who is a one-time justice minister and former U.N. diplomat. Prince Johnson, a rebel leader turned senator, is backing the incumbent because she's the lesser of two evils.

5:26pm

Mon October 17, 2011
Africa

Liberian President Confident Ahead Of Runoff

Originally published on Tue October 18, 2011 12:05 pm

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses a crowd of supporters on Saturday outside offices of her party on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia's capital. She faces Winston Tubman in a runoff election scheduled for Nov. 8.

Glenna Gordon AFP/Getty Images

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fresh from winning the Nobel Peace Prize, was hoping for an outright re-election victory last week.

But Africa's first democratically elected female leader is facing a runoff election next month. She says she is confident Liberians will vote for her in big numbers, but the first-round voting last Tuesday shows she is facing stiff competition after six years in power.

Read more

12:01am

Tue October 11, 2011
Africa

Peace Prize Winner Seeks Re-Election In Liberia

Liberians go to the polls Tuesday to elect a new president and lawmakers in the second key elections since the end of the civil war in 2003. The incumbent leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa's first democratically elected female president — was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, but her opponents say she deserves neither the award nor re-election.

Read more

6:07am

Sun September 4, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Future African Relations Among Uncertainty In Libya

Moammar Gadhafi bankrolled and championed the vision of a United States of Africa, with himself as the continental president. As Libya struggles to find its equilibrium on the cusp of what appears to be the post-Gadhafi era, one question is its future as part of Africa.

The African Union has not officially recognized the rebel leadership in Libya, saying "regime change" and outside intervention were wrong.

Read more

5:33pm

Sun August 28, 2011
Africa

Farrow Draws Attention To Plight Of African Refugees

Originally published on Mon August 29, 2011 7:34 am

In the Horn of Africa, 12 million people are in need of food aid because of the drought. The people of Somalia, facing both famine and war, are some of the hardest hit.

Many of those fleeing Somalia seek refuge in the southwest, at Kenya's giant Dadaab refugee camp. The settlement is about 50 miles from Kenya's border with Somalia. There are almost half a million Somalis in the camp – with more arriving every day.

Read more

5:42pm

Wed August 24, 2011
Africa

No Relief In Sight For Somali Refugees In Kenya

Women and children at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya line up Aug. 24 to receive ifthar — a meal of rice, meat and vegetables to break the Ramadan fast. Somalis are fleeing across the border to Kenya to escape extreme poverty associated with the country's severe drought, famine and an Islamist insurgency.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Even in the relentless heat and dust of the sprawling Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya, camp residents observe the dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast.

Hawa Abdi is among them. She is from southern Somalia, a part of the country where famine has been declared by the United Nations. She says she has been a refugee at Dadaab for the past six months and is receiving assistance — but still would like more food and other aid.

Read more

4:20pm

Thu August 11, 2011
Culture And Traditions

In Senegal, The Grandmas Are In Charge

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:33 am

Lightening the mood, the otherwise serious health care proceedings are punctuated by song and dance.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Long before you reach the circle of women, you hear them and feel their exuberance and warmth. These are the "grandmothers," fondly called les grandes-meres and dressed in brightly colored boubous — the voluminous traditional gowns with dramatic matching head wraps worn by the women of Senegal.

Read more

4:00am

Thu July 28, 2011
Africa

Aid Trickles In To Famine-Ravaged Somalia

The U.N. has begun airlifting emergency food relief supplies into the Somalia's capital after an initial delay. Families fleeing hunger and conflict in other parts of the failed state continue to arrive in droves in Mogadishu, seeking refuge and food.

With a famine declared in two areas, Somalia is hardest hit by a devastating drought affecting 11 million people in the Horn of Africa.

Read more

3:19pm

Sun July 24, 2011
World

Flow Of Somali Refugees Puts Strain On Kenyan Town

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:37 am

A Somali refugee woman carries a bag of food aid at the entrance to the registration area of the Dadaab refugee settlement in Kenya. While refugees receive international humanitarian aid, local Kenyans fighting drought get sacks of rice, beans and oil from the government.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Thousands of refugees continue to flee drought, famine and conflict in Somalia, seeking shelter and food in neighboring Kenya. But Kenya too is suffering from drought in the arid and semi-arid north of the country.

The northeastern Kenyan town of Dadaab is already home to more than 400,000 Somali refugees. Many younger Somalis have never been to Somalia or have spent almost their entire lives in the refugee camps in Kenya. In the past few weeks, thousands more Somalis have crossed the border to escape hunger and famine at home.

Life In Refugee Camps

Read more

4:00am

Fri July 22, 2011
Africa

Somali Refugees Stream Into Kenya To Escape Famine

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:37 am

Saruuro Aden traveled on foot from southern Somalia across the Kenyan border with her four children. She says they walked for 10 days.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

The crippling drought in the Horn of Africa has affected about 11 million people in a region straddling Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. But it's Somalia that has been hit hardest. This week, the United Nations declared a famine in two parts of the lawless nation – Lower Shabelle and Bakool in the south.

Thousands of Somalis are crossing the border into semi-arid northeastern Kenya, in search of shelter, food and medical care. They are streaming into the giant Dadaab refugee complex, which is the world's biggest collection of camps.

Read more

12:43pm

Thu July 7, 2011
Africa

Celebratory South Sudan Prepares For Independence

A Sudanese man holds the flag of South Sudan.
Phil Moore AFP/Getty Images

It is not often the world welcomes a brand new nation into its fold. But that will be the case on Saturday, when South Sudan becomes the United Nations' 193rd member and the African Union's 54th.

Independence comes after a bitter and long-fought conflict against Sudan's north, which left the south marginalized, underdeveloped and facing huge challenges — and the specter of more fighting.

But in Juba, the new capital, South Sudan is preparing to celebrate.

Read more

12:01am

Thu May 12, 2011
Africa

New Ivorian Leader Faces Challenges, Criticism

Ivory Coast's incoming president, Alassane Ouattara, who belatedly took the oath of office May 6, has a tough challenge on his hands: to reconcile and restore peace to his West African nation after a bloody and protracted post-election standoff. Mass graves, evidence of extrajudicial executions, forming a national army, setting up a truth-and-reconciliation commission and kick-starting the economy are just some of the hurdles he faces.

Read more

5:14pm

Fri April 22, 2011
Africa

Infighting Threatens Ivory Coast's Path To Peace

Ivory Coast is struggling to get back on its feet after a five-month presidential tug-of-war that claimed hundreds of lives and displaced more than a million people.

But there's possibly more trouble brewing for the incoming president, Alassane Ouattara, with infighting among former rebels who propelled him to power.

Ouattara ordered soldiers from all sides of the conflict back to barracks on Friday. Ouattara says his top priority is to restore security, after weeks of fierce fighting in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

Read more

6:28pm

Fri April 15, 2011
Africa

Inside Ivory Coast's Palace, 'An Armory, A Powder Keg'

Much has been reported about the presidential residence in Abidjan, which was hammered by U.N. and French attack helicopters trying to draw out the defiant, defeated Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo. Far less has been heard about the condition of the official presidential palace across town, the symbol of authority in Ivory Coast, where Gbagbo worked — and where a veritable armory was uncovered.

Read more

4:00am

Thu April 14, 2011
Africa

Ivorian President Faces Tough Rebuilding Challenges

In the Ivory Coast, former President Laurent Gbagbo is being held under guard at a villa in the commercial capital Abidjan. Meanwhile, new president Alassane Ouattara is trying to pacify the city, after a nearly five-month vicious power struggle.

2:49pm

Mon April 11, 2011
Africa

Strongman Gbagbo's Arrest Ends Ivory Coast Standoff

Originally published on Mon April 11, 2011 3:00 pm

A standoff ended Monday in Ivory Coast as longtime President Laurent Gbagbo was captured by fighters backing the country's democratically elected leader, Alassane Ouattara. The West African nation has been embattled for months; a disputed presidential election in November led to brutal fighting and a humanitarian crisis.

Pages