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  1. UN alarmed by rape chants in Burundi
  2. Detained opposition members in Zambia 'tortured'
  3. Ethiopian unrest left '669 dead'
  4. Nigeria's pothole-free airport reopens
  5. Mugabe calls on Zimbabweans to defend their independence
  6. Google Doodle honours Ghana's Aunty Ocloo
  7. Mummies found in Egyptian tomb
  8. Heritage sites 'increasingly threatened' by illegal wildlife trade
  9. Email stories and comments to - Tuesday 18 April 2017

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

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Scroll down for Tuesday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from the BBC Africa Live page today. Keep up to date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website.   

A reminder of today's proverb:   

The rabbit is in the veld that you underestimate."

An Oshiwambo proverb sent by Petrine Hango, Oshakati, Namibia

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this photo of artist Daniel Heez in his studio, as shared by ArtnewsAfrica on Instagram:

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#GrannyWisdom: 'Don't run away from problems'

Steven Chikosi is a film-maker from Zimbabwe who says he is on a mission to tell the stories of Africans and share them online. 

He's been asking his grandmother, 81- year-old Gogo Muchena, for her top bits of wisdom, as part of the BBC's Life Stories season.

Gogo Muchena: "Don't run away from problems, work towards fixing them"

Ethiopian security forces praised over festival stampede

Injured protesters in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, 2 October
Critics say excessive force was used by the security foces at the festival

The state-linked Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has praised the security forces, saying they showed restraint during last year's Ireecha religious festival when dozens of people died in a stampede

However, it called for the prosecution of some police officers for their actions the next day, when many others are believed to have been shot dead.

At the time, the government said that 52 people were killed during the festival in October in the restive Oromia region.

But an Oromo activist, Jawar Mohamed, put the number of dead at nearly 300. He said troops and a helicopter gunship had opened fire, driving people off a cliff and into a lake.

The government declared a state of emergency about a week later to quell the latest wave of unrest, which broke out in November 2015. 

The protests were staged mostly by members of the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, who complain about political and economic marginalisation in a country ruled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition since 1991. 

In a report tabled in parliament today, the commission said that 669 people were killed in the protests, of which 63 were police officers and soldiers. 

See earlier post for more details

'He was a good player, my best friend. I miss him so much'

The number of young Gambians taking the perilous journey through the hostile Sahara desert and across the Mediterranean to Europe is disproportionately high.

It's known as "the back way" and it's claiming many lives.

The BBC's Rebecca Kesby in The Gambian capital Banjul has been hearing the story of 19-year-old Hamadou Badjie, a promising amateur footballer who drowned crossing the Mediterannean last month.

He was a good player for us. He was my best friend. I miss him so much."

Moussa Sane, Hamadou's coach

He was our eldest son and our breadwinner. He only made this journey to try and relieve us from our poverty, but everything went wrong."

Hamadou's mother

Listen to the full report below:

Promising footballer Hamadou Badje lost his life making the perilous journey

Kinshasa police boss fired

Riot police in a stand-off with anti-government protesters in DR Congo
Police and opposition supporters have repeatedly clashed in DR Congo

A police chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo, General Celestin Kanyama, who has had sanctions imposed on him by the US and the EU for allegedly being involved in violence against opposition activists, has been sacked, AFP news agency reports.

Gen Kanyama, who headed the force in the capital, Kinshasa, has been replaced by Colonel Elvis Palanga Nawei, a police spokesman told AFP. 

He did not give any reasons for the government's decision to dismiss him. 

Last December, the EU imposed a travel ban on Gen Kanyama. It also said that any assets he may have in Europe would be frozen. 

The EU said he has played a role in the crackdown on opposition and civil society activists demanding that President Joseph step down. 

He was also among two high-ranking security officers to be blacklisted by the US State Department. 

Mr Kabila was due to have stepped down last year at the end of his terms in office. However, the polls were postponed and he has remained in office.  

Read: Why DR Congo's natural wealth is a curse 

Zambia court rules on opposition leader's rights

A magistrate in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, has ruled that the family of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema should be allowed to visit him in detention, his United Party for National Development (UPND) has said. 

It has posted a series of tweets on the full ruling, following Mr Hichilema's appearance in court on treason charges:  

View more on twitter
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 Mr Hichilema has not yet been asked to plead to the charges.   

See earlier post for more details

How do Gambians feel as Barrow nears 100-day mark?

Gambian President Adama Barrow is approaching 100 days in office, following his stunning election victory over Yahya Jammeh, the strongman who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years. 

The BBC's Umaru Fofana has been in the capital Banjul to see how Gambians feel about Mr Barrow's government. 

Here are a couple of views from people he spoke to: 

They're trying, but we need more achievement because Gambia nowadays is really crying for a lot of things. Electricity, the water system need to be put under consideration."

First thing, we need to make jobs for the youth. There's no water, no electricity. The country is getting harder and harder everyday."

Listen to the full report below:

Has life changed for Gambians under a new leader?

Focus on Africa radio is hosting a special live programme from The Gambia today. Listen to the first edition here.

Death toll for Ethiopia protests given in parliament

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

A group of protesters raise their fists in defiance
Protesters from Oromia and Amhara have been complaining about political and economic marginalisation

The state-affiliated Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has told parliament that a total of 669 people died in the latest wave of anti-government protests, which broke out in November 2015.

Opposition and human rights groups say the number of dead is much higher and have called for independent investigations.   

The report, which is currently being presented in parliament, says security forces used "proportionate measures" to deal with the demonstrators.

The protests have affected the Oromia, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regions (SNPR).

A state of emergency was declared last October in order to quell the demonstrations.

Read more: 

UN condemns Burundi rape chants

A girl waits in a van as her family packs-up to leave the capital as tension increases before parliamentary elections on Monday on June 27, 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi
More than 400,000 people have fled Burundi since April 2015, the UN says

The UN human rights chief has condemned the feared youth wing of Burundi's ruling party for repeatedly chanting at marches that women from opposition groups should should be raped and impregnated, or killed. 

In a statement, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said:

A chilling video circulating on social media shows more than 100 members of the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, repeating dozens of times their call to 'make opponents pregnant so that they can give birth to Imbonerakure'.

Another group then repeats a chant in which the phrase 'he or she should die' is audible some 19 times.

Following the release of the video earlier this month, the CNDD-FDD issued a statement condemning the chanting.

However, Mr Hussein said, reports indicate that similar chants have been heard at other rallies organised by officials from the government and the ruling party.

He added:  

The grotesque rape chants by the young men of the Imbonerakure across several provinces in various parts of Burundi are deeply alarming – particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia."

Read: Burundi's tit-for-tat killings spread fear

Ethiopia rebuffs UN and EU over protester deaths

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has rejected calls by the UN and EU for independent investigations into the deaths of hundreds of people during months of anti-government protests.

He has been speaking to the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza.

Ethiopia prime minister rejects UN probe into protest deaths

Google Doodle honours Ghana's Aunty Ocloo

Google Doodle

The late Ghanaian entrepreneur and women's rights activist Esther Afua Ocloo has been honoured with a Google Doodle on the search giant's UK homepage today.

She became one of Ghana's most successful businesswomen, starting her business in the 1930s with less than a dollar to her name. 

Her company was among the first in Africa to develop local food processing on an industrial scale, with her Nkulenu brand's canned palm fruit, jams and other products still sold widely in Ghana and exported to the rest of the world. 

She is credited with being among the pioneers of micro-financing, helping to improve financial inclusion for millions of women across the world.

Explaining why she had been chosen, Google said:

"On what would have been her 98th birthday, today’s Doodle shows Esther empowering the women of Ghana with the tools to improve their lives and communities."

Read more about her here

Mummies found in Egyptian tomb

Egyptian archaeologists document the content of a recently discovered tomb at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis in Luxor"s West Bank, 650km south of Cairo, Egypt, 18 April 2017.

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered six mummies, colourful wooden coffins and more than 1,000 funerary statues in a 3,500-year-old tomb near the southern city of Luxor, the antiquities ministry has said. 

Egyptian archaeologists document the content of a recently discovered tomb at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis in Luxor"s West Bank, 650km south of Cairo, Egypt, 18 April 2017.

The tomb, discovered in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis near the famed Valley of the Kings, belonged to a nobleman who worked as the city judge, the ministry added in a statement, AFP news agency reports.  

Mugabe: Zimbabweans 'masters of their destiny'

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has called on people to defend the independence they won in 1980 after defeating colonialism, the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.  

Speaking at Independence Day celebrations in the capital, Harare, Mr Mugabe said: 

We always remind ourselves, our people, those that fought the battle, those who were in what were known as 'the keeps', detention centres, villages and prisons, they all endured untold suffering at the hands of the colonial regime...

Fellow Zimbabweans, now we enjoy the fruits of our independence and we can call ourselves masters of our own destiny...

We however, need to be mindful that our assignment is not yet over. We have to constantly defend or independence so that it can have meaning...

As government, we continue to pursue socio-economic programs that consolidate our independence...

We also ought to be pleased that we have achieved 15 months without load-shedding. As we all know, load-shedding has a bearing on the performance of industries."

After his speech, Mr Mugabe, 93, inspected a guard of honour, as a BBC reporter tweets from the stadium: 

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Ethiopian Airlines first to land at revamped Abuja aiport

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An Ethiopian Airlines plane was the first flight to arrive at Abuja's international airport, which has been closed for six weeks to allow urgent repairs to be carried out. 

Nigeria's airport authority has tweeted, saying that the airport is official open now:

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'Win an Ethiopian maid' ad condemned in Bahrain

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A domestic recruitment agency in Bahrain that ran a competition on social media offering its followers the chance "to win an Ethiopian maid" has had its license suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

The agency, Al Hazeem Manpower, reportedly admitted using the “wrong wording”, but had “immediately made the required changes” after becoming aware of the complaint over its Facebook campaign.

In a statement, Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) said it had taken action against the Al Hazeem Manpower agency: 

"Immediate measures were taken, including suspending the license of the concerned employment agency."

The company deleted the posts containing the initial version of the offer (pictured in tweet above), with a subsequent post on Instagram having removed the offer to "win a domestic worker".

View more on instagram

The treatment of African domestic workers in the Gulf has been repeatedly condemned by human rights groups.

The authorities in Kuwait are reportedly investigating a video that emerged last month, showing a woman filming her Ethiopian maid falling from a seventh-floor window without attempting to help her.  

Detained Zambians 'tortured on private parts'

Aides of Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema had torture inflicted on their private parts after they were arrested with him on charges of treason, their lawyer Jack Mwiimbu has said in court.

The United Party for National Development (UPND) of Mr Hichilema, known as HH, has been tweeting from court:   

View more on twitter

See previous post for more details

Zambian opposition leader's lawyer hits back

The lawyer for Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been addressing the court in the capital, Lusaka, after treason charges were read out against him. 

Mr Hichilema, known to his supporters as HH, was arrested more than a week ago following a police raid on his home in the capital, Lusaka. 

His United Party for National Development (UPND) has been tweeting the comments of the lawyer:  

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See previous post for more details

Zambian opposition 'plotted to seize power'

Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been accused in court of plotting to overthrow President Edgar Lungu's government, his United Party for National Development (UPND) has tweeted:  

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Mr Hichilema was arrested last week after his convoy was accused of trying to obstruct the presidential motorcade while he and Mr Lungu were on their way to a traditional ceremony in western Zambia.  

See earlier post for more details

Nigeria's Abuja airport reopens

Martin Patience

BBC News, Nigeria correspondent

The runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport needs some serious attention
The airport was shut because of potholes on the runway

Nigeria’s government says the international airport in the capital, Abuja, is now open for business after being closed for six weeks for urgent repairs on the runway, where serious safety concerns had been raised over potholes on the tarmac.

In a country where deadlines often mean delays, the surprise reopening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport a day ahead of schedule will rightfully be declared a success.  

For six weeks, passengers were rerouted to a tiny airport in the northern city of Kaduna.

Fears of utter chaos and kidnappings on the road to Abuja never materialised.  

But the fact the capital was without a functioning airport for more than a month highlights the state of Nigeria’s crumbling infrastructure. 

Ethiopian Airlines is expected to be the first international carrier to touch down on the tarmac later today. 

Other major international airlines, which refused to fly into Kaduna, are now taking bookings for flights to the Nigerian capital for later in the week. 

Read: The chaos of Nigerian air travel

Zambia's opposition leader 'in court'

Main Zambian opposition party United Party for National Development presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema delivers a speech during a last presidential campaign rally on August 10, 2016 in Lusaka.
The opposition leader lost presidential elections last year

Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has arrived in a magistrate's court in the capital, Lusaka, following his arrest last week on a charge of treason, his United Party for National Development (UPND) has tweeted: 

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See earlier post for more details

Ugandans race to meet Sim cutoff deadline

Catherine Byaruhanga

BBC Africa, Kampala

Ugandans queue to reregister their sims
BBC/ Siraj Kalyango
There were long queues this morning at mobile phone shops

Campaigners in Uganda have asked a High Court to scrap a government order for all Ugandans to re-register their Sim cards by Thursday. 

There are an estimated 19 million mobile phone users in the country. 

The directive gave Ugandans seven days to verify their details using a National Identity Card, a document that not everybody has, following its introduction two years ago.

The government says the move is necessary to track criminals, amid heightened security concerns following the murder of the country’s police spokesperson last month.

But there are concerns over the order's legality and whether mobile phone companies can register everyone on time. 

Campaigners say seven days is not enough time for people to carry re-register their Sims, especially when shops were closed for four of them because of the Easter break. 

They are also saying that it's unfair foreigners are being allowed to use their passports, while Ugandans are not.

queue outside a mobile phone shop
BBC/ Siraj Kalyango

French soldier accused of child sex abuse due in court

Picture showing French army equipment for the Barkhane counter-terror mission.
Sebastien L, the accused, was discharged from the Barkhane operation following the allegations

The trial of a French soldier charged with molesting two young girls while he was serving in Burkina Faso in 2015 is due to start today. 

The serviceman, only named as Sebastien L, is set to appear before a criminal court in Paris.

Prosecutors say the 40-year-old soldier filmed himself touching the girls sexually in a hotel pool in the capital Ouagadougou, where he'd befriended a French woman who'd taken the girls swimming.

The children's mother then found the footage on a camera that the soldier left behind.

The soldier has admitted inappropriate contact.

The father of one of the girls complained that the soldier had been flown back to France as soon as the accusations were made. 

He told AFP at the time:

This means that as long as you're a French soldier abroad, you can [do] anything you want. Why are we not trying him here?"

If he is convicted of the charges, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. 

The Barkhane Operation was set up in July 2014 in an effort to fight the emergence of militant Islamist groups in the Sahel.

About 3,000 French soldiers are deployed as part of the operation, along with troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad. 

Two months before the allegations against Sebastien L. were brought to light, French troops in the Central African Republic were accused of raping six girls aged between nine and 13.

French prosecutors last month asked for that case to be dropped, saying the evidence was unreliable

French President Francois Hollande had cautioned against drawing links between the two cases, saying they were totally separate. 

Photo from Zimbabwe's Independence Day rally

A BBC reporter has tweeted a photo from the stadium in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, where President Robert Mugabe is due address the crowd as the country celebrates 37 years of independence from white rule:

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Zambian opposition leader due in court

Detained Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is due to appear in court today after he was charged with treason last week for allegedly obstructing President Edgar Lungu's motorcade. 

Mr Hichilema's United Party for National Development (UPND) is tweeting that there is a strong police presence outside court in the capital, Lusaka:  

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Mr Hichilema allegedly refused to make way for Mr Lungu's convoy, while travelling to a ceremony in western Zambia more than a week ago.

A confrontation erupted between the two convoys, as the president's motorcade attempted to overtake Mr Hichilema's.

"The opposition leader disobeyed police orders to give way to the presidential motorcade in an attempt to put the life of the republican president in danger," police chief Kakoma Kanganja told reporters at the time.

Mr Hichilema and his aides have also been charged with using insulting language, he added.

Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zabia, carrying a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of death. 

How road rage led to treason charge in Zambia

Nigeria 'mass exodus' warning

Woman cradles malnourished baby in Maiduguri
The Boko Haram insurgency has displaced more than two million people

Nigeria's top humanitarian official has warned that a failure to help millions of Nigerians on the brink of starvation could force huge numbers of people to leave the country, exacerbating the global migrant crisis, Reuters news agency reports.

"The world could see a mass exodus from a country of 180 million people if support is not given, and fast ... if people facing famine fall into famine," Ayoade Alakija, Nigeria's humanitarian coordinator told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"With so many people facing famine, this is the wrong time to criticise us and simply say 'You are the giant of Africa'," she added.

Nearly five million people in the country's north-east are desperately hungry and risk starving to death this year if they do not receive food aid, according to UN figures

Read more: 'We survived Boko Haram but face starvation'

Wildlife crime threatens heritage sites

Karen Allen

BBC southern Africa correspondent, Johannesburg

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Campaigners are warning that nearly half of the planet's Natural World Heritage sites are threatened by the illegal trade in wildlife. 

A report by the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) said poaching of elephants and illegal logging and fishing is putting the lives of critically endangered species at risk. 

About 40% of all African elephants and a third of the world's remaining tigers live in some of the world's 203 specially designated sites.

Undated handout photo issued by the Tsavo Trust of Tsavo Tusker known as Satao II, one of Africa"s last giant tusker elephants, which has been killed by poachers who reportedly felled the beast with a poison arrow, conservationists said.
Tsavo Trust

In a sobering report, WWF reveals that 45% of the planet's most precious natural areas are blighted by the illegal trade in wildlife. 

In deserts and bush land across Africa and Asia, right through to the Galapagos islands in Ecuador, rare species are being preyed upon in a trade that is believed to be worth about $19bn (£15bn). 

Poaching of elephant and rhino has beeen recorded in 43 cultural world heritage sites whilst illegal fishing has been detected in nearly half of the world's protected marine and coastal locations. 

The WWF said wildlife crime puts in jeopardy the future heritage of these precious places and the people whose livelihood depends on them.  

Zimbabwe marks independence amid cash crisis

Zimbabwe"s President Robert Mugabe attends the burial of Brigadier General James Murozvi, who was granted national hero status by President Robert Mugabe, at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, on April 12, 2017
Mr Mugabe is the world's oldest leader

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, 93, is due to address a rally to mark 37 years of independence, amid a worsening cash crisis that has forced the education ministry to announce that school fees can be paid in the form of livestock or labour. 

The ministry's permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango was quoted by the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper as saying: 

Schools should not turn away pupils for not paying tuition fees. Instead, parents of the concerned children can pay the fees using livestock. That is mostly for rural areas, but parents in towns and cities can pay through other means; for instance, doing certain work for the school. "

It is the latest sign of Zimbabwe running out of money because of its deep economic and financial crisis.

The government has introduced bond notes as a substitute for the US dollar, the main currency that people used after the Zimbabwean dollar was abandoned because of hyperinflation. 

However, Mr Mugabe is expected to give an upbeat speech, highlighting what he regards as Zimbabwe's achievements since independence, reports the BBC's Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare.  

Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since leading the country to independence in 1980. 

World leaders - including Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the Queen of England - have sent messages congratulating Zimbabwe on its day of independence, the state-owned Herald newspapers reports.  

Read: Why Zimbabweans spend the night outside banks

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day: 

The rabbit is in the veld that you underestimate."

An Oshiwambo proverb sent by Petrine Hango, Oshakati, Namibia

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

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