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 (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.



Sun August 28, 2011

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.

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Wed August 24, 2011

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.

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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.

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Thu July 28, 2011

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.

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Sun July 24, 2011

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

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Fri July 22, 2011

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.

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Thu July 7, 2011

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.

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Thu May 12, 2011

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.

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Fri April 22, 2011

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.

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Fri April 15, 2011

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.

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Thu April 14, 2011

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.


Mon April 11, 2011

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.