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  1. 'What I’m most proud of is being independent'

    DJ Edu

    This Is Africa

    Image caption: The Moroccan singer Manal gave up the support of a major record label to set up her own

    It might be nearly two decades since Destiny’s Child sang about Independent Women but Morocco’s Manal is keeping the spirit of Beyoncé and co alive and kicking as she gets ready to release her long-awaited debut album.

    After winning Best North African Female at the 2015 All Africa Music Awards, thanks to the success of her first single Denia, Manal has spent the last five years fighting to ensure the choices she makes in her musical career remain hers alone.

    View more on youtube
    Quote Message: What I’m most proud of now is being independent and owning my own label. To have this, I needed to work really hard, I needed to lose a lot of people around me and meet other people as well. I’m super-proud now to be able to work with the right people and be surrounded with the right people.”

    Those sacrifices included giving up the support of a major label. With Manal now taking sole responsibility, it is perhaps no surprise that elements of introspection and self-analysis have crept onto the album, which is entitled 360.

    Quote Message: It’s a circle. I did a turn on myself to see who I am really, what I like to do. I really have the chance to do the true music that represents me and it’s really enjoyable for me to do it.”

    The 27-year-old’s contemporary take on Arabic music fuses pop, rap and modern beats whilst also including some more traditional styles and melodies. But it’s not for everyone.

    Quote Message: When I tried to rap everybody was shocked because here rap is for men, not for women. I had a lot of reactions from my community. They were like ‘Oh, why did you rap? You could just keep singing songs with your guitar and you were cute and fun and everything’.”

    Jibes about Manal’s style and image used to hit home, but not anymore.

    Quote Message: I was so embarrassed and I felt so bad about it, but now I really don’t care. I don’t think I disrespect anyone by how I’m dressing, what I say in my music.”

    New label, new music, new attitude – but while Manal continues to push boundaries, she still struggles to accept her success.

    Quote Message: The fact that I get recognised on the streets, the fact that people talk about me, my music being played on the radio, is amazing. I still can’t believe this is happening to me.”

    You can hear more from Manal on This is Africa this Saturday, on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa.

  2. Ghana activists push government to rescue maids from Lebanon

    Thomas Naadi

    BBC News, Accra

    The United Nations Youth Association Ghana is pushing for the Ghanaian government to help rescue over 8,000 stranded domestic workers – most of them women – from Lebanon.

    The Middle East has become a popular destination for African women to move to for work as maids – with an estimated three million women from Africa working in Gulf states.

    But some end up in dangerous situations.

    I spoke to three women in their twenties who have returned to Ghana from Lebanon.

    They told me of long shifts - sometimes as long as 14 hours - without food.

    One of the women told me that her boss drugged her.

    Two of the three said their boss tried to rape them.

    At the root of the problem is a visa system called Kafala which makes workers extremely vulnerable, says Asie Kabukie Ocansey from the Nekotech Centre for Labour Migration:

    Quote Message: African migrant domestic workers are entering into a kind of domestic system that Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia have rejected - and that system is called Kafala. Kafala was started in the 1950s when the oil boom started in the Middle East and it means an adoption. They are not allowed to change an employer no matter how abusive the situation is and that is not correct."

    The UN youth association is also urging African leaders to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention to protect the rights of domestic workers - especially young women working abroad.

  3. Video content

    Video caption: Australian on Qatar flight where women ‘invasively examined' left 'terrified'

    Woman on same flight as those "invasively" examined thought it was a "hostage situation".

  4. Schools close as Tunisia avoids total lockdown

    Rana Jawad

    BBC News, Tunis

    Primary and secondary schools in Tunisia are to close for 12 days as part of new measures against coronavirus.

    A huge surge of infections over the past month has seen cases increase by more than 1,000 per day.

    Close to 1,000 people have died since the virus hit Tunisia in March - and most of those deaths have been in the past two months alone.

    The Tunisian government still appears to be trying to avoid another lockdown in the country but the latest measures are edging closer to the restrictions imposed back in March.

    At present:

    • Inter-city travel is banned
    • Public gatherings limited to a maximum of four people
    • Nationwide weekday curfew from 20:00 to 05:00
    • Nationwide weekend curfew hours are 19:00 to 05:00
    • Restaurants and cafes to close at 16:00
    • Nurseries and kindergartens however remain open

    Earlier this week Tunisia’s health officials said that in parts of the country, hospitals treating Covid-19 patients had reached full capacity.

  5. Algerian president sent to Germany for 'medical check-ups'

    BBC World Service

    President Abdelmajid Tebboune

    Algeria's President Abdelmajid Tebboune has been transferred to Germany for what state TV says are "medical check-ups".

    Mr Tebboune had been admitted to hospital in Algeria on Tuesday.

    The nature of his condition has not been revealed, but there has been speculation that he's been infected by coronavirus.

    On Saturday, Mr Tebboune went into five days of voluntary self-isolation at the advice of his doctors after many of his aides and government figures tested positive for Covid-19.

    Mr Tebboune's hospitalisation has come just days before a referendum on proposed changes to Algeria's constitution, which the president very much wants to see approved.

  6. Saudi activist goes on hunger strike

    Video content

    Video caption: "She said I will either die or I'm at least allowed to hear my parents on a regular basis"

    Loujain al-Hathloul has been in prison since 2018, when she and other campaigners successfully fought for the right for women to drive

  7. More bodies exhumed in Libyan unmarked graves

    BBC World Service

    A photo taken in June shows the excavations in the mass graves found in Tarhuna
    Image caption: A photo taken in June shows the excavations in the mass graves found in Tarhuna

    Another 12 bodies have been found in unmarked graves in the Libyan city of Tarhuna, adding to the dozens of corpses already discovered there.

    Before it was captured in June by government forces, the area was held by fighters allied to the eastern-based commander, Gen Khalifa Haftar.

    After the city was overrun, a number of bodies were discovered in a hospital, and many more were unearthed at grave sites.

    Marks on some showed that they had been subjected to violence.

  8. Algeria's leader hospitalised days before crucial referendum

    BBC World Service

    Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune speaks during a press conference in Algiers, Algeria, 13 December 2019

    The president of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has been admitted to a military hospital in the capital just days before the country is due to vote in an important constitutional referendum.

    On Saturday, Mr Tebboune went into five days of voluntary self -isolation at the advice of his doctors after many of his aides and government figures tested positive for coronavirus.

    Mr Tebboune's office said that he was in a stable condition in a specialist unit, and that he was continuing to do his work.

    Algerians will be voting in Sunday's referendum on an amendment to the constitution that limits presidential terms and gives more powers to the parliament and judiciary.