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  1. Guinea bans beauty pageants after outrage over bikinis
  2. About 500,000 Kenyans and Ethiopians 'threatened' by dam
  3. Mass Valentine's Day wedding at Mandela's former jail
  4. Kenyan couple who married for $1 hold a second $30,000 wedding
  5. Anger in Somalia over UAE military base deal
  6. Suspected al-Shabab militants sentenced to death
  7. About 20% of Nigerian money "fake"
  8. Drought causes food prices to soar in East Africa
  9. Cyclone expected to hit Mozambique
  10. UK foreign secretary on first visit to The Gambia
  11. Email stories and comments to - Tuesday 14 February 2017

Live Reporting

By Clare Spencer 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 wise words:   

Love is like a cough, it cannot be hidden."

Click here to send your African proverbs.

And on the Valentines Day theme, we leave you with this image of a Kenyan woman giving out free hugs on the streets of Kenya's capital Nairobi.   

Njeri told our reporter Emmanual Igunza that love is for free.

Free Hugs

Intense cyclone on its way to Mozambique

BBC Weather

weather map

A powerful cyclone is set to slam into the southern coast of Mozambique in the early hours of Thursday.

It will be the first cyclone to hit this part of Mozambique for 10 years.

There is a risk of up to 400mm of rain within two days. 

As the area has already received above average rainfall over the last few months this cyclone could lead to some significant flooding.

Find the latest forecast on BBC Weather.

Iman remembers David Bowie

On Valentine's Day, Somalia-born model Iman has tweeted about her late husband, music star David Bowie who died in January 2016 after a long battle with cancer:  

View more on twitter

Germany pushes Tunisia on failed asylum seekers

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has told her Tunisian counterpart, Youssef Chahed, that she wants to speed up the repatriation of failed asylum seekers.

Speaking after talks in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said the current rate of returns wasn't fast enough.

 She warned that if people didn't go back to Tunisia of their own accord, then they'd be forced to go. 

The issue has taken on greater urgency since December's deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin by a Tunisian jihadist whose asylum claim had been rejected. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed (2nd L) lay down flowers at the site of the Berlin Christmas Market attack, on February 14, 2017
The two leaders visited the site of the attack

Guinea bans beauty pageants after skimpy outfits cause outrage

Guinea's government has temporarily banned beauty pageants after the skimpy outfits in the swimwear section caused outrage, reports BBC Afrique

The competitors paraded in front of the Prime Minister Mamady Youla in bikinis on Saturday, attracting severe criticism on social media.

This tweeter said the competition was "a shame" to Guinean culture:

View more on twitter

One publication, Flash Guinee, asked in its headline if the prime minister was encouraging prostitution.

The ban is until a new code of ethics has been drawn up, Culture Minister Siaka Barry said.

He said a committee has been set up to come up with that code.

He added that the government has ended its contract with the organisers of the beauty pageant.  

Food prices soar in drought-hit countries

Kenya cattle
Kenya's government has declared the drought a national disaster

Drought in East Africa has led to a sharp increase in the price of staple foods, raising fears that hunger will worsen, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said, Reuters news agency reports. 

The cost of staple cereals have doubled in some markets, reaching record and near-record levels in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, the FAO added.

In South Sudan, food prices were between two and four times higher than a year ago while in Kenya prices of maize were up by about a third, FAO said. 

In Somalia, maize and sorghum harvests were estimated to be 75% lower than usual and more than half of the country's population, mostly in rural areas, was facing hunger, the UN agency said. 

Somalia condemns UAE over military base

BBC World Service

Somalia's government has reacted angrily to an agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the breakaway republic of Somaliland to station a military base there.

The auditor general in Mogadishu, Nur Farah Jimaale, said his government would submit an official complaint against the UAE for "breaking international laws". 

Under the agreement a military base was to be built at the port in Berbera. 

The UAE already has facilities at the Eritrean port of Assab. 

Somaliland is a self-declared state that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia.   

Correction 3 March 2017: This entry has been amended to remove reference to the UAE having a military base in Assab.


'Thousands of trees 'illegally exported' from Madagascar

Madagascar forest
Getty Images
Traffic says the charcoal industry also contributes to illegal logging

At least 350,000 trees have been illegally felled inside protected areas in Madagascar over the last five years, according to a report by environment organisation Traffic.

The organisation adds that in that period at least 150,000 tonnes of logs illegally were exported, including to China, Malaysia and Mauritius.

The report says one of the reasons the illegal logging is carrying on is because of a failure to impose punitive penalties on well-known traffickers.

Madagascar is home to rosewood and ebony, which are in high demand, particularly in Asia, because of their attractive appearance, the Traffic report says.

Private doctors in Kenya to strike

Striking Kenyan doctors
State doctors want better pay and working conditions

Doctors at private hospitals in Kenya will begin a 48-hour strike at midnight local time to show solidarity with doctors on strike in the state health sector, the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has said. 

The decision comes after a court yesterday sentenced of seven union officials to one month in prison for being in contempt of a ruling to end the strike which has badly affected state hospitals.

Doctors plan to protest at courts around the country, and if the seven are not released within 48 hours the KMA will issue further instructions to its members, KMA head Jacqueline Kitulu said. 

The government says patients have died as a result of the strike, which has lasted for around 10 weeks, and has called on doctors to return to work. 

However, the doctors have vowed to continue with the strike until the government implements a deal reached in 2013 to increase basic salaries by 150% to 180%, review working conditions and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

Where is Nigeria's president?

Muhammadu Buhari has not been seen in public recently and the Nigerian rumour mill is in overdrive, as the BBC's Martin Patience explains.  

Where is Nigeria's president?

Will we start making payments through Facebook messenger?

Nigerian on mobile phone
Getty Images
Ways to pay through your phone have mushroomed in Nigeria

The technology news site Tech Crunch reports a new money transfer company in Nigeria is using chat bots to make payments through Facebook messenger. 

The invention, called Kudi, is still in its early days, with $15,000 (£12,000) worth of transactions having gone through, Tech Crunch reports.     

Pelumi Aboluwarin, co-founder of Kudi, told Tech Crunch that he chose to use Facebook messenger because "consumers are tired of installing and figuring out new apps".

Kudi is part of Facebook's Free Basics which means it doesn’t cost any data to use, Tech Crunch adds.

The massive change in how consumers make payments started in Kenya with Mpesa mobile money about a decade ago. 

The article goes on to say that in Nigeria there are plenty of other companies now trying to make money transfer smoother, including Paga and KongaPay.

Read about more African inventions we're likely to see more of in 2017 on the BBC News website.

Ethiopian dam 'causes water shortage in Kenya'

 A huge newly-built Ethiopian dam is cutting off the supply of water to Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, threatening the livelihoods of some 500,000 people in both countries, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The rights group released these satellite images showing the increase in water near the dam, and the receding coastline of Lake Turkana:

Satellite images of Lake Turkana and Gibe III Dam
Human Rights Watch

The Gibe III dam, along with a network of sugar plantations, has caused the depth of Lake Turkana to drop by 1.5m (4.9ft) from its previous levels since the dam's reservoir began filling in 2015, according to the HRW. 

In one part - Ferguson Gulf - the satellite images show the lake has receded by 1.7km (1.06 miles).

Fishermen on the lake told the BBC's Nancy Kacungira last month that they no longer haul in as much as they used to - one told her the decrease was significant:

"I used to go fishing twice a day, now I go once a day." he said.  

The dam is expected to double the electricity output of Ethiopia, AFP adds.  

Built at a cost of $1.6bn (£1.28bn), Gibe III is is expected to double the electricity output of Ethiopia.

HRW said the government's move to "develop its resources should not endanger the survival of indigenous people living downstream". 

"The predicted drop in the lake levels will seriously affect food supplies in [Ethiopia's] Omo Valley and Lake Turkana, which provide the livelihoods for half a million people in both Kenya and Ethiopia," it added.  

In pictures: $1 wedding couple's lavish second ceremony

We reported earlier that a Kenyan couple who spent just $1 (£0.80) on their wedding, have now got married in a lavish ceremony funded by well-wishers at a cost of $35,000. 

We now have some pictures of the second ceremony with the full white wedding dress:

Wedding couple
Aaltonen Jumba

In January Wilson and Ann Mutura opted to have a low-key wedding ceremony in Nairobi without cakes, flowers or decorations and were widely praised for their frugal wedding.

But the new photos show that this time they have had all the trimmings, including a wedding car:

Wedding car
Aaltonen Jumba

Read more about the original $1 wedding

Rose petals for Reeva

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

Reeva Steenkamp memorial card
Reeve Steenkamp was killed on Valentine's Day 2013

On the fourth anniversary of Reeva Steenkamp being shot dead by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, her cousin has talked to News 24 news site

“It has been four years, but it feels like yesterday for [her parents] June and Barry. You never get over something like this,” her cousin Kim Martin told News 24. 

The South African site adds that the murdered model's friends and family are commemorating her death in a private ceremony in the coastal town Port Elizabeth where they are believed to be scattering rose petals on the beach where her ashes were sprinkled.

Read more: Reeva Steenkamp, my friend, shot by Oscar Pistorius

Will Nigeria be able to buy US weapons again?

Tomi Oladipo

BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent

03 May 2015 released by the Nigerian Army shows an insurgents" camp being destroyed by Nigerian military in the Sambisa Forest, Borno state, Nigeria.
Getty Images
The Nigerian army has been battling Boko Haram more than seven years

The conversation between US President Donald Trump and his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on Monday included the resolve to work out a new weapons deal to help Nigeria in fighting terror.

With the new US administration the Nigerian government has a chance to push its counter-terrorism agenda afresh. 

Its military campaign against Boko Haram Islamist militants has been gravely affected by US restrictions.

The US has sent military advisers and other support, but under the Leahy Law it has not been able to sell arms because of alleged human rights violations carried out by Nigerian troops, although it was not a blanket ban on all equipment sales. 

This law also prohibited other countries to sell weapon to Nigeria because of their existing agreements with the US.

Often nations did not know the ban was in place and arranged deals with Nigeria before being thwarted at the last minute. 

In one case, the US blocked Israel from selling retired American-made attack helicopters to Nigeria. 

Nigeria, in turn, blamed the US for some of its failures in fighting Boko Haram and was forced to look elsewhere, including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, for support in providing training and some equipment.

To strike a new deal with Nigeria, Washington now has the choice of looking for a way to circumvent the Leahy Law or reassessing the Nigerian military’s human rights record to allow for the resumption of weapons sales. 

Malawi minister's offices on fire

Malawi's The Times newspaper is reporting that a fire has raged through the offices of the Minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, in the capital, Lilongwe. 

It has published a photo of the fire on its website:  

Government building
Malawi Times

Workers fled the building while firemen arrived to extinguish the blaze, the newspaper reports. 

The cause of the fire is still unclear. 

The Gambia revokes plan to withdraw from ICC

The Gambia's government has written to UN chief Antonio Guterres, notifying him that it has rescinded the decision of the former regime to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. 

In a statement, it said: 

As a new government that has committed itself to the promotion of human rights, democracy, good governance and respect for the rule of law, we reaffirm The Gambia’s commitment to the principles enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

This action is in line with our vision of a new democratic Gambia."

ICC in Ivory Coast in 2013
Getty Images
The ICC tries people accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity

The government's decision is not surprising as President Adama Barrow had expressed support for the ICC during campaigning ahead of his election on 1 December. 

However, it is a blow to the anti-ICC lobby - which includes South Africa, Namibia and Burundi - within the African Union.

At the annual AU summit of African leaders held about two weeks ago, they pushed for a mass walk-out from the ICC, but faced opposition from other countries, including Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia. 

Former Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh's regime was a fierce critic of the ICC describing it "the International Caucasian Court", in what was seen as a a political dig at its chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer and former justice minister.

Read earlier post: UK foreign secretary visits The Gambia 

Read: What South Africa leaving the ICC would mean

Ghanaian asylum seekers: 'We lost our fingers'

Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal crossed the Canada-US border illegally after being denied refugee status in the US.

But the two Ghanaians, who walked miles across snow-covered fields in frigid temperatures, lost fingers and parts of their ears to frostbite during the journey.

They told the BBC their story:

'I lost all my fingers': Asylum seekers make dangerous border crossing

Video by Dan Lytwyn.

Tunisia defends itself after German criticism

Passersby pause at a memorial for the Christmas market terror attack victims at Breitscheidplatz on January 19, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
A Tunisian was behind in the Berlin Christmas market attack

Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has dismissed German claims that his country has been slow to take back failed asylum seekers from Europe. 

German chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to press him on the matter during talks today in Berlin. 

The issue has taken on greater urgency since December's deadly attack on a Christmas market in Berlin by a Tunisian jihadist, Anis Amri. 

He had been denied asylum in Germany six months before killing 12 people in the attack. 

Mr Chahed told a German newspaper that Tunisia had made no mistakes. 

'At least 100 killed' in DR Congo violence

The United Nations says government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are thought to have killed at least 100 people in clashes with a local militia group in the last few days. 

The fighting occurred in the central province of Kasai. 

The UN said the troops fired indiscriminately with machine guns at members of the Kamwina Nsapu group, who are loyal to a local chief who was killed by soldiers in August. 

A UN spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, said they were deeply concerned by the high number of deaths and disproportionate use of force.  

From $1 wedding to $35,000 wedding

BBC World Service

Wilson Mutura and his bride Ann opted to have a low-key wedding ceremony in Nairobi without cakes, flowers or decorations
The groom spent $1 on two budget rings for the first wedding

A Kenyan couple who spent just $1 (£0.80) on their wedding, have now got married in a lavish Valentine's Day ceremony funded by well-wishers at a cost of $35,000. 

Wilson and Ann Mutura could not afford the costs of getting married so they postponed their wedding twice in 2016, before tying the knot last month. 

News of their $1 wedding went viral on social media and many Kenyans offered to help. At their first wedding, they wore casual clothes and their party took place without cakes, flowers or decorations. 

Photos of their $35,000 second wedding have been posted on Facebook:  

View more on facebook

Mass wedding where Mandela was jailed

Twenty couples have got married today on Robben Island - where South Africa's most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela, was jailed for 18 years.

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The Valentine's Day mass wedding is an annual event that has taken place for the last 16 years, reports South Africa's Eye Witness News

View more on twitter
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Grace Msibi, pictured with her husband above, told EWN that she jumped at the chance to renew her vows.

"It was the monument of apartheid but now it has turned out to be a place of love. We want to add to its history," Mrs Msibi said.

The two were captured dancing at the service:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Talks to tackle armyworms outbreak

International experts have gathered in Zimbabwe to discuss an outbreak of armyworms that is damaging crops in several African countries. 

The three-day meeting in Harare will try to come up with a comprehensive plan to halt the advance of the caterpillars. 

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that the pests could cause widespread food shortages in regions that are already struggling with drought. 

Armyworms in Shepherd Nyoni"s hand that has damaged his maize crop at his field in rural Bubi, in Matabeleland North, near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 26 January 2017.

The current outbreak has been blamed on a species of armyworm native to the Americas; it's not clear how they reached Africa.  

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa are among the countries affected. 

Pistorius' sister tweets about Steenkamp

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, in a killing which shocked the nation.

His sister has tweeted:

View more on twitter

The former Paralympian, known as the Blade Runner, is serving a six-year prison sentence for her murder.  

South Sudan army general accused of corruption

South Sudan Soldier
President Kiir has been accused of favouring his own Dinka ethnic group in army recruitment

The army in South Sudan has dismissed the deputy army chief's allegation that the military is ethnically biased and has accused him of fleeing to escape charges of embezzlement, AFP news agency reports. 

Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka left the country for an undisclosed destination after describing South Sudan’s conflict as “tribally engineered”, accusing the leadership of recruiting people from the ethnic Dinka group to strategic positions. 

In a resignation letter dated 11 February, Gen Swaka, who is from the Baris ethnic minority group, also accused the government of deliberately violating a 2015 peace agreement and prolonging the country’s civil war.

President Salva Kiir has denied the claims, saying the dominance of his Dinka group in the force was not a result of bias, but because others simply did not sign up during military recruitment.   

The army spokesman Brig Gen Lul Ruai Koang said that an investigation started in December "indicates that Thomas was personally and heavily involved in a scam where enormous quantities of food, fuel, lubricants and equipment have been diverted for personal consumption, have disappeared, been stolen or resold," reports AFP.

Gen Swaka has not yet responded to the corruption allegation.

South Sudan, which is home to over 60 different major ethnic groups has been beset by a civil war which the UN says has displaced 2.2 million people.  

Man shot dead was 'mistaken for a warthog'

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Photo taken on February 6, 2013 shows two warthogs in the Kruger National Park near Nelspruit, South Africa.

South Africans have reacted with shock at the news that a 39-year-old man accused of shooting dead a farm worker said he mistook him for a warthog.

View more on twitter
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The accused, South African Stephen Hepburn, appeared in court on Tuesday on a murder charge.

He and a female partner were hunting for warthogs on a farm in northern Limpopo province on Saturday when 23-year-old Jan Railo was shot dead.  

Police spokesman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo told the BBC that Mr Hepburn was arrested on Monday after the culpable homicide, or manslaughter, charge was changed to murder.

He told me the accused was not asked to plead during his court appearance, and the case was postponed to Thursday for a bail application.

Brig Mojapelo went on to say that Mr Hepburn said he shot in the direction of the noise and when he and his hunting partner went to check on their kill, they found a man lying on the ground.

Members of the local branch of the governing African National Congress (ANC), who attended the court hearing, said they did not believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

Boost for UK-Gambian relations

Adama Barrow
Adama Barrow is expected to improve relations with Western governments

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit The Gambia today, just weeks after long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh went into exile under military pressure from regional forces following his election defeat. 

Mr Johnson said he was very pleased that the West African state wanted to rejoin the Commonwealth - a move, he said, the UK would ensure happens in the coming months.   

He will meet new President Adama Barrow, who has repeatedly signalled his intention to return the country to international bodies such as the Commonwealth and International Criminal Court (ICC).   

Mr Jammeh had withdrawn The Gambia's membership from the Commonwealth in 2013, describing it as a "neo-colonial" institution.   

The Gambia is known to many outside the country as an ideal beach holiday location

The European Union promised The Gambia an aid package of about $80m (£65m) last week, almost three years after it froze its assistance. 

Many people in The Gambia are poor, and some of them try to make the treacherous journey to Europe in the hope of a better life. 

But the country is a popular with European tourists because of its beaches. 

Read: Jammeh gone but life is far from normal

Ebola 'super-spreaders' cause most cases

Woman being monitored for Ebola
Getty Images
It is hoped understanding the infection will help contain the next outbreak

The majority of cases in the world's largest outbreak of Ebola were caused by a tiny handful of patients, research suggests.

The study looked at cases in and around the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown.  

The analysis, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows nearly two thirds of cases (61%) were caused by 3% of infected people.

Children under 15-years-old and adults over 45 were more likely to spread the virus.  

"I wonder whether it is to do with people coming to care for the young or old," Prof Steven Riley, one of the researchers at Imperial College London, told the BBC. 

Read more on the BBC News website.

Death sentences in Somalia

A military court in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland has sentenced seven suspected militant Islamists to death for killing several top regional officials - including the director of Puntland’s presidential palace, Aden Huruse, the privately owned Shabelle news site reports

Some of the men, accused of being members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group, shouted "We are innocent" before the sentence was handed down by the court in Bosaso city.

Their lawyer said he would appeal against the ruling because there was no "credible evidence" against the seven. 


Read: The new Somali president with a lot on his plate

Huge problem of 'fake money' in Nigeria

This picture taken on January 29, 2016 in Lagos shows 1000 naira banknotes, Nigeria's currency.

About 20% of the Nigerian currency, the naira, in circulation in the West African state is fake, an ex-deputy governor of the central bank, Obadiah Mailafia, has said. 

Speaking at a budget hearing in the National Assembly yesterday, Obadiah Mailafia called on the authorities to crackdown on fake money to protect the economy:   

When fake currencies of that magnitude circulate, original currencies become scarce. Bad money chases away good money."

He blamed the economic crisis in Nigeria on a wide range of factors - including the sharp fall in oil prices, dwindling foreign reserves, poor banking practices, regulatory failures and corruption. 

Nigeria - Africa's biggest economy - slipped into a recession last year for the first time in decades.  

Mr Mailafia warned the government not to increase interest rates, saying "it would further compound the hardship Nigerians are facing”. 

Today's wise words

Our Valentine's Day African proverb is:

Love is like a cough, it cannot be hidden."

A Swahili proverb sent by Hyacinth Amutalla-Murphy, Commugny, Switzerland

Click here to send us your African proverbs

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