Mogadishu's Lido beach: Sun, surf and... grenades?

  • 22 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
Lido beach, Mogadishu
Life is returning to normal in some parts of Mogadishu

Abdullah Mohammed Hassan climbed down from his perch, and strolled purposefully into the sea to rescue yet another bather who appeared to be struggling against big waves and a rocky, barbed-wire-infested shoreline at Lido beach, on the northern edge of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

"We save people here every day," said the 46-year-old policeman - managing to sound both proud and chiding and the same time.

Mr Hassan has now spent three years assigned to the lifeguard unit that patrols the beach.

At high tide on a recent Friday afternoon, thousands of mostly young Somalis were playing in the surf - a scene of cheerful relaxation that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago in a city notorious for its decades of anarchy, famine and violence.

"This place is bangin'! Beautiful!" said an exuberant 21-year-old named Hassan Mohammed.

Read full article Mogadishu's Lido beach: Sun, surf and... grenades?

Somalia outrage at remittance bans

  • 21 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
A money transfer facility in Mogadishu
The large Somali diaspora uses money-transfer firms to support their families back home

Somalia's president has lashed out at the government of neighbouring Kenya - accusing it of a "heavy-handed" approach to regional security, and specifically criticizing Kenya's recent decision to clamp down on money transfer companies allegedly linked to the militant group, al-Shabab.

In an interview with BBC News, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud described the remittance industry as "a lifeline" for millions of Somalis and for others across the region, and said "the massive closing of accounts, the closing of remittances" was counter-productive.

Read full article Somalia outrage at remittance bans

Somali defector: Why I left al-Shabab

  • 20 May 2015
  • From the section Africa

One of the most senior figures to defect from Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab has urged his former colleagues to stop targeting civilians and to begin negotiations with the Somali government.

In his first interview with a foreign journalist, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi - who once had a $3m (£1.9m; €2.7m) bounty from the US government on his head - condemned al-Shabab's attack on Garissa University College in Kenya in April, where 148 students were killed.

Read full article Somali defector: Why I left al-Shabab

South Africa: What does Maimane's win mean for the DA?

  • 10 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
Mmusi Maimane, the newly elected leader of South Africa's main opposition party, gestures as he gives his maiden speech following his election in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 10 May 2015.
Mmusi Maimane is the first black leader of the Democratic Alliance

It is a milestone of sorts. For the first time in its democratic history South Africa has an official opposition led by a black person.

In that context, it is hard not to see the Democratic Alliance's (DA) election of Mmusi Maimane as its new leader as a significant step in the country's journey towards political maturity.

Read full article South Africa: What does Maimane's win mean for the DA?

Cecil Rhodes monument: A necessary anger?

  • 11 April 2015
  • From the section Africa
Students attack the defaced statue of British mining magnate and politician, Cecil John Rhodes, as it is removed by a crane from its position at the University of Cape Town on April 9, 2015, in Cape Town
Cecil Rhodes was a British diamond magnate, politician and unapologetic colonialist

It all started with some excrement.

One night last month, a student called Chumani Maxwele scooped some poo from one of the portable toilets that dot the often turbulent, crowded townships on the windswept plains outside Cape Town.

Read full article Cecil Rhodes monument: A necessary anger?

Kenya's stoic survivors defy al-Shabab

  • 5 April 2015
  • From the section Africa
Some of the Garissa University students who were rescued comfort each other at the Garissa military camp on 3 April 2015
Some of the Garissa University students who were rescued comfort each other

"Now I'm okay," was about all Cynthia Terotich could manage, as she sat in the casualty ward in Garissa's hospital.

She had been contemplating the 50 hours she'd just spent crushed inside a tiny cupboard, hidden beneath a pile of clothes, with nothing but a bottle of body lotion to try to quench a raging thirst.

Read full article Kenya's stoic survivors defy al-Shabab

What does Buhari victory mean for Africa?

  • 2 April 2015
  • From the section Africa
General Buhari
General Buhari faces big challenges

After the anxiety and drama of the past few days in Nigeria, it is tempting to get carried away by the impact of this ballot - what it represents for both Africa's largest democracy and for those countries on the continent still wrestling with the notion that power can change hands without the world coming to an end.

The significance of General Muhammadu Buhari's victory should certainly not be underestimated.

Read full article What does Buhari victory mean for Africa?

The man admired by presidents and warlords

  • 29 March 2015
  • From the section Magazine
Mark Doyle in Rwanda at the time of the genocide

Road blocks can be tricky things - not least for journalists. Grenades brandished at car windows on narrow roads. Bored kids with big guns looking to make a point.

Sometimes a piece of official paper will get you through. Or cigarettes. Or lots of smiles. But often - and without wanting to sound too melodramatic - the difference between safe passage and something much nastier can boil down to a word, a name.

Read full article The man admired by presidents and warlords

Ebola survivor 'hiding' from community

  • 3 March 2015
  • From the section Africa

Siannie Beyan stood on the stage with the other Ebola survivors in Monrovia's City Hall, singing a short, joyful hymn, and trying to hold onto a smile.

As the crisis fades here in Liberia - no new confirmed infections for 10 days and counting - there is a tangible sense of relief.

Read full article Ebola survivor 'hiding' from community

Liberia Ebola doctor: 'We're going to win very soon'

  • 2 March 2015
  • From the section Africa
Doctor Mosoka Fallah
Doctor Mosoka Fallah says Liberia defied predictions that 500,000 people would die

Doctor Mosoka Fallah - a stout, gruff, profoundly earnest man - stood outside a small house on the outskirts of Monrovia in Liberia wondering if this is where it would all end.

"This is the last stretch, the last mile. There's a lot of pressure on us. If they all go for 21 days without symptoms then that could be the end of Ebola," said the 44-year-old Harvard-trained doctor, watching his colleagues take the temperatures of a dozen women and children gathered on the porch.

Read full article Liberia Ebola doctor: 'We're going to win very soon'