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Summary

  1. Eritrea's ambassador declared a persona non-grata after "diaspora tax" row
  2. Fashion retailer says "we are listening" following racism allegations
  3. US and Canadian nationals "kidnapped" in Nigeria
  4. Thousands welcome freed Ethiopian politician
  5. Plane packed with Burundian troops "hit a bird"
  6. Healer "duped women in Guinea into thinking they were pregnant"
  7. Protest at South African school over language policy
  8. Blood transfusion supplies in Uganda "critically low"

Live Reporting

By Dickens Olewe and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

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  1. Scroll down for Wednesday's stories

    We’ll be back tomorrow

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

    A reminder of today's wise words:

    Quote Message: A flat-bottomed calabash seats itself." from A Kikuyu proverb sent by John Heho in Lenexa, Kansas, US
    A Kikuyu proverb sent by John Heho in Lenexa, Kansas, US

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

    And we leave you with this picture of Ethiopian women posing for a picture after their search for firewood.

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  2. Netherlands expels Eritrea's ambassador

    Anna Holligan

    Reporter BBC News, The Hague

    The Eritrean ambassador to the Netherlands Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy has been declared a person non-grata and asked to leave the country.

    A letter signed by the Dutch minister of foreign affairs outlined the reasons for the severe diplomatic penalty.

    The exceptional decision relates to a broadcast on the Dutch Argos radio programme last month, which said Eritrean refugees were being forced to pay a diaspora tax in order to access consular services at the Eritrean embassy in The Hague.

    According the Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra's letter to parliament, concerns were raised with the ambassador, but there were signs of continued intimidation and coercion of the Eritrean community.

    While there is currently no evidence the Eritrean embassy has done anything unlawful, the Dutch cabinet wanted to send a strong signal that it will not tolerate these practices.

    Read: Eritrea country profile

  3. Five more high-profile Ethiopian prisoners

    Merera Gudina
    Image caption: Merera is among politicallyconnected people who have been held in prison

    Despite the release of prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina from prison today, the government denies that those detained are political prisoners.

    Here are other high-profile Ethiopians still in prison:

    Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) - arrested together with the party's secretary-general Dejene Fita Geleta and 20 others in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests that resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters.

    Andargachew Tsege, leader of Ginbot 7 (designated a terrorist group by Ethiopia) - arrested in 2014 while in transit in Yemen and taken to Ethiopia, where he faces the death penalty after being convicted in absentia. A British national, human rights groups have been pushing for his release.

    Andualem Aragie, vice-president of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party - imprisoned since 2011, and now serving a life sentence on terrorism charges.

    Eskinder Nega, journalist and blogger - imprisoned since 2011 after criticising the use of anti-terror laws to silence the press. He was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in jail.

    Woubshet Taye, journalist and editor- imprisoned since 2011 and sentenced the next year to 14 years in prison for terror-related offences.

    See earlier post for more details

  4. Nigeria police 'in shoot-out' with kidnappers

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC Africa, Abuja

    Gunmen have abducted two Americans and two Canadians near the northern city of Kaduna after killing their police escorts.

    The gunmen emerged from hiding to intercept the two vehicles the six were travelling in on the highway between Kaduna and the capital, Abuja, police said.

    The policemen were killed in a shoot-out which ensued.

    There has been an increase in recent years in the abduction of both foreigners and locals in Nigeria.

    Two German archaeologists were abducted in northern Nigeria last February.

    Four Britons were abducted in the southern Niger Delta region in October. One of them was killed while three were released after negotiations.

  5. Uganda to run blood drives over shortages

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC Africa, Kampala

    Blood bank
    Image caption: The blood bank’s stock is usually boosted by donations from schools

    Uganda will launch blood drives to try to address a severe shortage of blood in the country.

    The blood bank facility in the capital Kampala is reported to be practically empty, with only about 100 units of blood available, rather than the thousand-plus units required every day.

    The World Health Organization recommends that blood collections should be at least 1% percent of a country's population.

    Uganda's blood bank is only able to meet less than 70% of its yearly target or about 240,000 units.

    The blood bank’s stock is usually boosted by donations from schools.

    But with the long school holiday, the blood bank has found itself in a crisis.

    Dr Dorothy Kyeyune-Babazaire, the director of Uganda's Blood Transfusion Services, said the facility is trying to mitigate the crisis through more drives with corporate companies and walks-in donors.

  6. Didier Drogba opens school in Ivory Coast

    Stanley Kwenda

    BBC Africa, Kutama

    Didier Drogba at school

    Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba has opened his foundation’s first school in Ivory Coast, his foundation announced today.

    The school will help hundreds of children in the rural cocoa growing community of Pokou-Kouamekro to gain quality education, it added.

    Speaking at the launch, Drogba said:

    Quote Message: We have been working on this project for the last two years and I am very proud to see it completed.
    Quote Message: The belief of my foundation has always been if we give children access to health and education, we will build future generations of doctors, scientists, businessmen and women and that is how we build a better Africa.

    The school was built and funded by the Didier Drogba Foundation, with the support of Nestlé and the International Cocoa Initiative.

    It has six classrooms, a kindergarten class, a canteen, latrines, a football field and houses for three teachers.

  7. Americans and Canadians 'abducted' in Nigeria

    Habiba Adamu

    BBC Africa, Abuja

    Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped in northern Nigeria's Kaduna state, police have told the BBC.

    Two police officers, apparently their escorts, were killed during the kidnapping, police added.

    We'll bring you more details once we get them.

  8. Sudan opposition leader vows to 'bury regime'

    Sudan's veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi has called on people to "rise against the regime", as protests against the high cost of living continue in the capital, Khartoum.

    Mr Mahdi's Umma Party said the security forces prevented him from joining the protests, but, contrary to earlier reports, he had not been arrested.

    However, Sudanese Communist Party leader Mokhtar al-Khatib was detained early this morning.

    Sudanese opposition leader and ex-prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, whose civilian government was overthrown in a 1989 coup that brought President Omar al-Bashir to power, attends a gathering by supporters in Omdurman on January 26, 2017 upon his return to the country
    Image caption: Sadiq al-Mahdi's government was ousted in a 1989 coup that brought President Omar al-Bashir to power

    Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum, Mr Mahdi said:

    Quote Message: Today the regime has sunk to a new low. The regime has suffocated any opportunity of dialogue and we will bury the regime, God willing.

    Mr Mahdi vowed that protests would continue, and appealed to soldiers and police not to arrest people.

    He also appealed to Sudan's armed opposition groups to cease hostilities, and to support the protests.

    A video of today's protest is circulating on social media:

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    The price of bread and other food items have soared in recent weeks after a shortage of wheat supplies led to the cost of flour going up.

  9. Somalis songstress Daleys was a trailblazer

    Aisha Afrah

    BBC Somali

    View more on youtube

    Somali songstress Khadija Abdullahi Daleys, who died on Monday aged 81, was the pride of Somalis, fellow singer and close friend Mohamed Aden Da'ar has said.

    ''She was not an ordinary woman, her integrity, eloquence and courage complimented her musical talent. She was not like anyone, she was our leader and someone who was proud of her Somaliness,'' he told BBC Somali.

    At just 16, Daleys became the first woman to be heard on state-run Radio Mogadishu on 14 February 1952.

    A female voice on the radio - let alone a singing female voice - shocked many Somalis, and religious clerics declared that the world was coming to an end.

    Daleys used to sing patriotic songs at school functions and was very popular among her peers.

    When she began her professional singing career, she took a pseudonym, Daleys, to protect her family.

    This then became the custom with other female singers. Daleys and her contemporaries were instrumental in opening the gates of art and literature to other Somali women.

    She was part of the famous Somali musical group, Waaberi, and she sang in both the May and Maxaa Tiri dialects of the Somali language.

    John Williams Johnson, author of Heelloy: Modern poetry and songs of the Somali, wrote: "It was she who weathered the widespread criticism of women in modern poetry, and because of her resistance to the pressure of tradition, probably more than any other woman she established the 'right' of women to recite the modern poem.”

    Daleys was born in 1936 in the Bay region in southern Somalia and grew up in an era when Somalis were hungry for independence.

    Her most famous songs carry the themes of patriotism and unity, encouraging Somalis to work together for the common good.

  10. Thousands welcome freed Oromo leader

    Thousands of people have turned up to welcome prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina after his release from prison earlier today.

    Mr Merera told the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza that, "after 400 days in prison. I'm OK," adding that he was "open for dialogue" after a call by the government for talks with the opposition.

    Our correspondent has sent these pictures from the Oromo leader's hometown of Burayu on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Thousands welcome Merera Gudina
    Thousands welcome Merera Gudina
    Thousands welcome Merera Gudina

    Read: What is behind Ethiopia's wave of protests?

  11. SA protests over Afrikaans school

    Lebo Diseko

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    Police in South Africa have fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to try and break up a protest outside an Afrikaans medium school just south of Johannesburg.

    View more on twitter

    The demonstrators are accusing the school of racism for not admitting 55 English-speaking students.

    Tires were burned as groups waving flags from both the ANC and the opposition EFF parties demonstrated outside the school.

    View more on twitter

    Hoërskool Overvaal school and the Gauteng education department have been involved in a court battle over the issue.

    The education department had said that the school had to admit the students.

    But last week the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the school should not be forced to admit them.

    Afrikaans is spoken mainly by people of white or mixed heritage in South Africa.

    The demonstrators see the school’s action as intended to exclude back children. The school denies this, and says it just does not have the capacity or resources to cater for the pupils.

    The provincial head of education says his department will appeal against the High Court’s decision.

    Read:Why South African students want to be taught in English

  12. Sudan's veteran opposition leader 'detained'

    Mohanad Hashim

    BBC Africa

    Sudan's security forces have arrested former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in the capital, Khartoum, the opposition Sudanese Congress Party has tweeted in Arabic.

    View more on twitter

    Mr Mahdi, an octogenarian who leads the Umma Party, was on his way to take part in a march called by a coalition of opposition forces to protest against the government’s austerity measures.

    In the early hours of this morning, Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) leader Mokhtar al-Khatib was also detained.

    Hundreds took part in a SCP-organised march in downtown Khartoum yesterday to express their anger at the government’s economic policies.

    The currency has been devalued, and bread prices have more than doubled because of a rise in the price of flour.

  13. Nigeria police search for stolen animals

    Ishaq Khalid

    BBC Africa, Abuja

    Police in Nigeria’s central Plateau state say they are trying to track down armed men who stole hundreds of animals in the last two days.

    More than 350 cattle and 50 sheep were stolen in the state's remote Riyom area, where farmers and herdsmen have clashed in the past.

    The state's police spokesman, Mathias Terna Tyopev, told the BBC that security forces are making efforts to arrest the thieves and recover the animals.

    He said many injured animals have already been recovered but could not give a number.

    An official of Plateau's Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Muhammad Nurah Abdullahi, told the BBC that so far about 200 cattle have been recovered by the security forces.

    About 50 carcasses were also found in mining ponds, he added.

    There have been clashes between nomadic herdsman and farmers in central Nigeira.

    Clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farmers have left more than 100 people dead since the beginning of this month in neighbouring Benue and Taraba states, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy more troops to end the violence.

    Herdsmen often accuse members of farming communities of stealing and killing their livestock while the farmers say the animals destroy their crops.

  14. Obiang denies opposition activist died after torture

    Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
    Image caption: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled Guinea since 1979

    Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has denied allegations by the main opposition party that one of its members was tortured to death in detention.

    The long-time leader told French media that Santiago Ebee Ela died of natural causes:

    "I believe his death had no link to mistreatment, he was a sick man," he told French radio station RFI and France 24 television.

    Mr Ebee Ela was arrested on 2 January in a crackdown on members of the opposition Citizens for Innovation (CI) party.

    The party says it has been targeted since it won a single seat in the 100 member parliament in disputed elections in November.

    "After the elections, the regime began a widespread campaign of political persecution of CI supporters," a member of Equatorial Guinea's civil society told AFP news agency.

    The party said Mr Ebee Ela was among 200 members arrested over the past two months.

    Mr Obiang disputed the number, saying: "I think there are about 20 people."

    He added that an inquiry would be launched to investigate Mr Ela's death but denied that he was tortured, saying: "It is not true."

    The 75-year-old leader has ruled the oil-rich West African nation since 1979.

  15. Burundi airport chief: 'Plane hit bird'

    Prime Ndikumagenge

    BBC Africa, Bujumbura

    The head of Burundi's international airport has confirmed to me that a plane carrying troops hit a bird shortly after take-off this morning.

    The pilot turned back to have the plane checked at the airport in the capital, Bujumbura, Emmanuel Habimana said.

    No technical problem was detected, and the plane took off again, he added.

    The troops were flying to Somalia to join the African Union (AU) force fighting the militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

    Burundi is a major contributor to the force.

    See earlier post for more details

  16. Nigerian Shia demand leader's release

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC Africa, Abuja

    Nigerian Shias
    Image caption: Organisers say they will hold daily protests

    Hundreds of people, including activists and followers of a pro-Iranian Shia leader, have held a sit-down protest in Nigeria's capital Abuja, demanding his and his wife's release.

    Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has been in detention for more than two years ago, following a military crackdown on his group, The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)

    More than 300 IMN members were killed, with rights groups accusing the military of using excessive force.

    The crackdown followed allegations that the IMN tried to kill army chief Tukur Buratai. The group denied the allegation.

    Sheikh Zakzaky's followers say they will hold a daily protest to demand his release.

    Scores of his followers were wounded in clashes with the police and many arrested last week during protests to demand his release, amid rumours that he had died in detention.

    Over the weekend, he appeared in public, along with his wife, for the first time since his arrest, and spoke briefly to journalists at a press conference.

    His lawyer says he had suffered a mild stroke and that his wife still has bullets in her body.

    The Shia leader is yet to be formally charged in court.

  17. Crow 'forces plane to land' in Burundi

    Prime Ndikumagenge

    BBC Africa, Bujumbura

    A crow flies near les Invalides in Paris on October 5, 2010.

    A crow has forced a plane in Burundi, packed with hundreds of soldiers, to return to the international airport in the capital, Bujumbura.

    The plane hit the crow during take-off, and the pilot decided not to continue flying to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, sources at the airport and defence ministry told me.

    The planed stayed in the air for nearly an hour, before eventually landing.

    Burundian troops are part of the African Union (AU) force fighting militant Islamists in Somalia.

  18. Somali fisherwoman breaks boundaries in Mogadishu

    Riyan Abukar Ali is determined to succeed as a fisherwoman in Somalia, in a trade dominated by men.

    She used be a tuk-tuk driver, but took to the seas off the coast of the capital Mogadishu when the social pressures of being a woman in her previous job became too much.

    Watch her story:

    Video content

    Video caption: Somali fisherwoman breaks boundaries in Mogadishu
  19. Guinean pregnancy 'trickster' arrested

    Alhassan Sillah

    BBC Africa, Conakry

    Pregnant woman
    Image caption: Some of the women experienced pregnancy symptoms for 15 months

    Police in Guinea are expected to charge a traditional healer with endangering the lives of people under false pretense after she allegedly gave sterile women a concoction to make them pregnant.

    About 200 women from the Dabompa area on the outskirts of the capital, Conarky, were present at the paramilitary police's anti-criminal department following the arrest of N’Fanta Camara, accusing her of being a "trickster". She denies any wrongdoing

    The women are just some of the victims who were allegedly given potions that had adverse medical effects on them.

    The victims said they experienced pregnancy symptoms for 12 to 16 months but found they were not pregnant after medical examination.

    Ms Camara had allegedly told the women not to seek medical advice.

    Police doctor Mamadouba Camara, who examined more than 40 women, says they are likely to suffer long term negative consequences as a result of the treatment.

    One of the women told me about her experience:

    Pregnant woman
    Quote Message: It’s been a year now since we first went to see this woman. During our first visit she gave us some medicines of leaves and herbs that made us vomit and [we] frequented the toilet a lot. She assured us that this was good for us as long as these were the reactions we were experiencing.
    Quote Message: On a second visit, she gave us some more herbs and leaves which we boiled and drank. As one continues to take these medicines, the stomach starts to rise a bit. After a while, we visited again. She examined us by just touching our bellies and she declared us pregnant.
    Quote Message: However, she gives us strict instructions not to go to the hospital because no doctor can treat this pregnancy because they can’t even see it. We experienced our normal menstrual cycle during this period, and some of our colleagues told us that they bled profusely during their cycle.
    Quote Message: On the day she declares any woman pregnant, we give her a set of wrappers and a hen, after initially having paid her 300,000 francs ($564; £408) for the entire process.”

    Ms Camara spoke to journalists in Sousou, the Guinean lingua franca, saying that she administers the treatment but leaves it to "God" to give the women children.

    Woman accused of duping woman who want to be pregnant
    Image caption: Ms Camara herself from the allegations
    Quote Message: The women who come to me, the first question I ask them is whether they believe in God. I ask them that question and tell them that it is only God that gives children to women and not me. I don’t normally wait for their replies but we start the process. I work very hard to help them realize their dream but the rest is in the hands of God.”

    The head of the anti-criminal department, Moussa Tiergboro Camara, alleged that the traditional healer has been making a lot of money from her victims:

    Quote Message: If we take the proportion of 50 women visiting her daily, then she makes 450 francs ($846, £613) a month. As such, she is capable of constructing a... building out of these women's cash. ”

    See earlier post for more details

  20. H&M appoints diversity tsar

    Fashion retailer H&M has announced the appointment of a "global leader" to focus on "diversity and inclusiveness" following the racism row which broke out after it got a black child to model its "coolest monkey in the jungle" hoodie.

    The Swedish multinational tweeted:

    View more on twitter