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.

In 2014, Boko Haram seized the town of Gwoza in northeast Nigeria, killing hundreds of people. The insurgents declared that Gwoza would be the seat of their self-proclaimed caliphate. It was a perfect place for them, protected by a mountainside, with caves and tunnels for hiding out.

Could I summon the resolve to eat a grasshopper?

That was the question.

It's certainly a good idea to think about eating insects. Food specialists would like people around the world to think about eating insects — an excellent source of protein.

Not everyone is a fan of the idea — for the obvious reasons.

But in northeastern Nigeria, deep-fried grasshoppers, spiced with powdered chili, are a local favorite.

Ado Garba told me that he loves eating grasshoppers. I could tell, admiringly, that he is a hopper connoisseur.

If you happen to be a cancer patient needing radiation in Senegal, getting past the shock of the diagnosis and onto treatment is a major hardship at the moment.

The country's only radiotherapy machine — indeed for a long while the only one in French-speaking West Africa — is broken. That's the machine whose radiation is used to treat primarily breast, head and neck tumors and bone cancer.

This post was updated on May 25 to add a comment from the Women's Affairs Minister of Nigeria.

Picture a kaleidoscope of color and a medley of vivid African print cloth surging forward amid screams and weeping — for joy.

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Along the Chari and Logone rivers separating Cameroon from Chad's capital, four flat-bottomed boats, mounted with machine guns, brimming with Chadian and other special forces, round the curve as they approach the riverbank.

Forming an assault force, heavily armed soldiers leap out of the vessels and race up a slope to take up positions while backup forces have their machine guns at the ready.

Marie-Victoire Carvalho Sow is busy in the annex to her kitchen in Dakar, dishing out giant ladles full of a traditional Senegalese Easter treat.

It's called ngalakh – a delectable mix of millet, groundnut (peanut) paste, bouye (the fruit of the baobab tree, which is also known locally as pain de singe or monkey bread), sugar, vanilla essence and orange blossom.

She says every year, Catholics make this special food for Good Friday and it's savored over Easter weekend.

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A prominent Muslim leader in Nigeria is making a point about a common practice in Islam. He says if people are worried about poverty or terrorism, they should consider how those problems can be made worse by polygamy. Here's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

President Robert Mugabe turns 93 on Tuesday, making him the oldest president in Africa — and the world. He's the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known, spending nearly 37 years at the helm since independence from Britain and the end of white minority rule in Rhodesia in April 1980.

Southern Africa is facing an invasion by an army — but not the sort of force you can defeat with ammunition. This foreign invader is an agricultural pest that is threatening the breadbasket of the region.

Zambian farmer Daniel Banda noticed in late December that something was munching through his crop of corn, destroying the maize fields on his small farm just outside the capital, Lusaka. Voracious caterpillars, known as fall armyworms, had nestled in the cobs and chomped through the leaves.

Some are calling it Nigeria's new "boy band." An "old boy band" would be more like it.

A new singing group that burst onto the Nigerian musical scene over the new year consists of senior citizens — a chorus of prominent past political and military leaders from Africa's most populous nation. And they're singing about peace, unity and goodwill in 2017.

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It's the land of pop-up protests.

Using hashtags and spur-of-the-moment public demonstrations, Zimbabweans are demanding reforms — and the departure of 92-year-old president Robert Mugabe, who has led the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Fortunate Nyakupinda has parked her hatchback by the side of the busy main road leading to the industrial area in Harare — where she sells used clothing for men from the trunk and the back seat.

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She wants to take pictures of happiness.

That's one of the goals that Fati Abubakar set when she started her Instagram feed bitsofborno last year.

Borno is a state in the troubled northeast of Nigeria, where the extremist group Boko Haram began operating. The capital city, Maiduguri, birthplace of the insurgency, is where this 30-year-old nurse lives and works as a project manager for a malnutrition project as well as a documentary photographer.

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A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

Wide-eyed Sakina Muhammad, who's 2, sits on her mother, Habiba's lap, on a bed in the ICU. Sakina is stick thin, her body withered and emaciated.

But she's one of the lucky ones — a malnourished child who came to the health facility in time to be saved. Many starving children don't make it.

Malnutrition is at a catastrophic level in northeastern Nigeria, where Sakina lives, says Doctors Without Borders. According to the medical aid group, the number of malnourished people could be as high as half a million. Children are starving — and dying.

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It's World Refugee Day today, and the head of the UN's refugee agency, FiIippo Grandi, has released some startling statistics – starting with the fact that there are 65 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. That's a record number.

And behind every number, there is a story.

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