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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5:40pm

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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4:31pm

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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6:06pm

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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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/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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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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4:36pm

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/.

11:51am

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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4:53pm

Tue February 17, 2015
Africa

Boko Haram Attacks Spread Beyond Nigeria's Borders

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:08 pm

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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4:19pm

Mon February 2, 2015
Africa

South Sudan's Rival Leaders Agree To Cease-Fire

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 1:33 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A cease-fire deal was signed today in South Sudan, a bid to end a bloody conflict that's devastated the country. It's supposed to be finalized March 5. But as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, it's not clear how much progress has actually been made.

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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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