Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is a journalist and broadcaster from Ghana who reports for NPR News on issues and developments related to West Africa. She spent her early years in Ghana, Italy, Britain and Kenya.

Quist-Arcton has lived and worked in the U.K., France, Ivory Coast, U.S., South Africa and most recently Senegal, traveling all over Africa as a journalist, broadcaster, commentator and host.

After completing high school in Britain, she took a degree in French studies with international relations and Spanish at the London School of Economics (LSE) and went on to study radio journalism at the Polytechnic of Central London, with two internships at the BBC.

Quist-Arcton joined the BBC in 1985, working at a number of regional radio stations all over Britain, moving two years later to the renowned BBC World Service at Bush House in London, as a producer and host in the African Service. She traveled and reported throughout Africa.

She spent the year leading up to 1990 in Paris, on a BBC journalist exchange with Radio France International (RFI), working in "Monito" — a service supplying reports and interviews about Africa to African radio stations, and with RFI's English (for Africa) Service as a host, reporter and editor.

Later in 1990, Quist-Arcton won one of the BBC's coveted foreign correspondents posts, moving to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to head the corporation's West Africa bureau. From there, she covered 24 countries, straddling the Sahara to the heart of the continent — crisscrossing the continent from Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, to Zaire and Congo-Brazzaville, via Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. She contributed to all BBC radio and television outlets, covering the flowering of democracy in the region, as well as the outbreak of civil wars, revolutions and coups, while always keeping an eye on the "other" stories about Africa that receive minimal media attention — including the continent's rich cultural heritage. Quist-Arcton also contributed to NPR programs during her reporting assignment in West and Central Africa.

After four years as BBC West Africa correspondent, she returned to Bush House in 1994, as a host and senior producer on the BBC World Service flagship programs, Newshour & Newsday (now The World Today), and as a contributing Africa specialist for other radio and TV output.

Quist-Arcton laced up her traveling shoes again in 1995 and relocated to Boston as a roving reporter for The World, a co-production between the BBC, Public Radio International (PRI) and WGBH. She lived in Cambridge and enjoyed getting to know Massachusetts and the rest of New England, learning a new language during winter, most of it related to snow!

For The World, she traveled around the United States, providing the program with an African journalist's perspective on North American life. She also spent six months as a roving Africa reporter, covering — among other events — the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1997.

In 1998, after another stint back at BBC World Service, Quist-Arcton was appointed co-host of the South African Broadcasting Corporation's flagship radio drive-time show, PM Live, based in Johannesburg.

In 2000, she left the BBC to join allAfrica.com (allAfricaGlobal Media) as Africa correspondent, covering the continent's top stories, in all domains, and developing new radio shows for webcast and syndication to radio stations around the continent.

After six years in South Africa, Quist-Arcton joined NPR in November 2004 at the newly-created post of West Africa Correspondent, moving back to her home region, with a new base in Senegal.

Her passions are African art and culture, music, literature, open-air markets, antiques - and learning. She loves to travel and enjoys cycling and photography.

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Africa
1:44 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Young Pakistani Activist Urges Nigeria To Do More For Kidnapped Girls

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 5:32 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When more than 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamist extremists in Nigeria, the president of Nigeria was accused of a slow response. That was three months ago. Now trust between the families of the girls and their government is all but gone. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

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Parallels
11:02 am
Thu July 10, 2014

In West Africa, Officials Target Ignorance And Fear Over Ebola

Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:04 pm

There's growing concern in West Africa about the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed hundreds of people. Health ministers have formed a regional response, but fear and a lack of knowledge about Ebola threaten their efforts.

Liberian musicians are joining the campaign, taking to song to educate people about the Ebola virus. Their tune is called "Ebola in Town," and warns people to beware of close contact with those who fall ill. The song warns, "Don't touch your friend."

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Africa
11:02 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Extremist Group Claims Credit For Mass Kidnapping In Nigeria

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 1:35 pm

Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed credit for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls. The girls remain missing, and parents are pressing the government to find and bring them home. The president's wife has ordered the arrest of the parent who is leading the protests demanding government action.

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Africa
11:13 am
Thu May 1, 2014

With Few Answers On Missing Teens, Frustration Simmers In Nigeria

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 3:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Nigeria, a large number of schoolgirls, possibly a couple hundred, are still missing after they were abducted by suspected Islamist insurgents more than two weeks ago. It was thought that the teens had been trucked to a notorious militant hideout in northeastern Nigeria. Latest reports say they may have been spirited across Nigeria's borders to neighboring countries. The dearth of information from authorities is causing outrage and is putting pressure on the Nigerian government.

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Africa
12:21 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

'Have Mercy On Our Little Ones': Kidnapping Agonizes Nigerians

Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.
Afolabi Sotunde Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun April 27, 2014 1:23 pm

There is a grim mood of outrage in Nigeria. In the faraway, northeastern town of Chibok, more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school dorms in the dead of night nearly two weeks ago.

Chibok is a mixed Christian and Muslim community in predominately Muslim northern Nigeria. The attackers are suspected Islamist extremists. Under pressure, the Nigerian government is vowing to rescue the missing students, but the military is being blamed for failing to free the teens and crush an increasingly deadly insurgency.

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Africa
1:16 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Rescuers Deliver Most, But Not All, Nigerian Schoolgirls To Safety

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 3:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Africa
4:56 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Guineans Scramble To Defend Themselves Against Deadly Virus

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 8:26 am

A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has the country on edge. Guineans have never experienced the deadly virus, and are learning quickly how to protect themselves.

Shots - Health News
8:59 am
Fri April 11, 2014

How A Person Can Recover From Ebola

Testing for Ebola, a scientist in a mobile lab at Gueckedou, Guinea, separates blood cells from plasma cells to isolate the virus's genetic sequence.
Misha Hussain Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 10:38 am

At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.

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Shots - Health News
10:51 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

The Ebola Survivors: Reborn But Not Always Embraced

Rose Komano, 18 and the mother of three, was the first Ebola patient to overcome the virus in southeastern Guinea, the epicenter of the outbreak. On April 3, she posed at a health clinic in the Gueckedou region.
Misha Hussain Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 10:32 am

They call them the "Lazarus" cases, after the Biblical character who died but was revived by Jesus. They are survivors of the latest outbreak of Ebola.

Ebola often grabs global headlines as the killer virus that can result in a death rate of up to 90 percent. But in Guinea, the death rate in the current outbreak has been about 60 percent. So there are survivors — to the delight of the overworked doctors, health workers and, of course, the patients who have recovered.

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Shots - Health News
12:08 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

The Ebola Outbreak 3 Weeks In: Dire But Not Hopeless

The new normal in Guinea is washing hands with a mixture of water and bleach--shown here at the border entrance of Buruntuma, in the Gabu area on Tuesday.
Tiago Petinga EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 5:15 pm

Guinea is on high alert. At the international airport, travelers' temperatures are monitored for signs of infection. In the capital city of Conakry, people rarely shake hands and are advised to regularly wash their hands with bleach-diluted water.

This is what life is like nearly three weeks after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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News
11:07 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Facing Ebola Outbreak, Officials Must Contain Both Virus And Panic

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 2:28 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Dozens of deaths are reported in Guinea in West Africa, the results of the Ebola virus. Health officials and aid agencies are working to contain both the disease and panic about the outbreak. We'll explore the origins of the deadly virus in a moment. First, NPR Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on the outbreak.

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Africa
11:13 am
Thu March 20, 2014

On Streets In Senegal, Thousands Of Boys Are Forced To Beg

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:20 pm

Human Rights Watch is urging Senegal to implement a law criminalizing forced begging. Many families are misled into entrusting their children to people acting as Islamic teachers, who then exploit thousands of young boys.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Africa
7:45 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Central African Republic President Resigns

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Africa
3:32 am
Sat December 28, 2013

In Conflict-Torn Africa, Senegal Shows A Way To Religious Harmony

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 6:35 am

Inter-religious tensions have been in the headlines in parts of Africa lately. Christian-Muslim clashes have left many dead in places like Nigeria and Central African Republic. But there are also examples of peaceful inter-religious co-existence in Africa, such as Senegal.

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
1:54 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

South Africans Reflect On Mandela's 'Rainbow Nation'

A South African boy stands in front of a mural of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, earlier this month.
Veronique Tadjo for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:39 pm

At the 1964 trial that convicted Nelson Mandela and his co-accused, and sent them to prison for life, he made a statement to the packed courthouse, which he repeated on his release in 1990, after 27 years in detention.

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NPR Story
11:33 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela Lies In State In Pretoria Before Sunday Burial

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:26 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Yesterday, the world's leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela. Now, the people have their turn. Mandela is lying in state in Pretoria to allow South Africans to bid him a personal farewell. Thousands of mourners filed past the half-open casket. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports the clouds and showers at yesterday's memorial have lifted.

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The Two-Way
2:22 am
Wed December 11, 2013

As Mandela Lies In State, South Africa Says Goodbye

Graca Machel bids farewell to her husband, Nelson Mandela, whose body lay in state Wednesday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Marco Longari AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:13 am

Amid a solemn atmosphere, the body of Nelson Mandela lay in state Wednesday at an amphitheater in South Africa's capital of Pretoria, the exact spot where he was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994, reconciling a land that had been torn by racial divisions for centuries.

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Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
2:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Obama Calls For Self-Reflection On Mandela's 'Heroic Life'

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. At a soccer stadium in South Africa before a crowd notable for its dancing and for the umbrellas it is holding up against the rain, President Obama is speaking in a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela. He said just a moment ago: The world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. And let's listen to a little bit more of the president today.

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Africa
12:33 pm
Sat December 7, 2013

South Africans Mourn Mandela, Celebrate His Life

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 1:33 pm

South Africa's official period of mourning for former President Nelson Mandela will culminate in his funeral a week from Sunday. Mandela's death left South Africans with "a sense of profound and enduring loss," says the nation"s president, Jacob Zuma. His compatriots, as well as foreign visitors, are flocking in homage to the Mandela homes in Soweto and Johannesburg.

Africa
10:16 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

In Nigeria's Bloody Fight, Who's Gaining The Upper Hand?

Men walk amid rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik in northeast Nigeria, on Sept. 19. The Islamist group has been waging an insurgency in northern and central Nigeria for the past four years and was recently placed on the U.S. list of terrorist groups.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 5:51 am

For four years, the Islamist militants of Boko Haram have been waging a deadly campaign in northern and central Nigeria, killing thousands of people. In response, the Nigerian military is cracking down on the group, and the United States last week designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

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Africa
11:03 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Nigerian Civilians Caught In Crackdown On Islamists

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 7:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Nigeria an Islamist insurgency has claimed thousands of lives, most of them civilians. The Nigerian president imposed a security crackdown last spring in a bid to end the uprising. Now Amnesty International is out with a report warning that more than 950 people have died in military detention in Nigeria in just the first half of this year. And the attacks continue. NPR's West Africa correspondent, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, reports from, Lagos.

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Crime In The City
10:26 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Hardcore With A Heart: Joburg Thrillers Star A Spunky P.I.

Jassy Mackenzie was born in Rhodesia and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old. She edits and writes for the annual publication Best of South Africa.
Soho Crime

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 12:54 pm

South Africa's commercial capital, Johannesburg, is a mixture of the old Wild West and a complex, modern African hub — at least, that's how crime novelist Jassy Mackenzie describes it. Mackenzie was born across the border, in Zimbabwe, but she moved to Johannesburg — Joburg for short — as a child, and she's a passionate champion of the city.

"I love the energy of Johannesburg," Mackenzie says. "People are open. People communicate. People are friendly in a brash, big-city way, which I love. ... [it's] the New York of South Africa!"

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Africa
11:52 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Opposition Claims Zimbabwe Elections Were Manipulated

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 1:05 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The people of Zimbabwe cast ballots today for their next president. It's a two-horse race. Longtime president Robert Mugabe is once again being challenged by opposition leader and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Violence and fear that followed an election five years ago have eased, but the opposition is again making claims that the election has been manipulated.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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Africa
11:43 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Zimbabwe Braces For Upcoming Elections

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 4:59 pm

After years of food shortages and drought, in a country that was once the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe's crippled economy is recovering — after adopting the U.S. dollar as its currency. But memories of the violent elections in 2008 are fueling fears about security. The disputed vote ended in a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and his main opposition rival. The Zimbabwean leader has now proclaimed July 31 as election day.

Africa
12:30 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Media Focus On Ailing Mandela Is Not 'The African Way'

Congregants pray in front of a stained-glass window depicting South African statesman Nelson Mandela during Easter services at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Soweto of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 3. The church held prayers for Mandela, 94, who was in the hospital at the time.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 5:11 am

It's almost impossible these days to switch on South African radio or television, or read a local newspaper, website or tweet, and not hear Nelson Mandela's name mentioned.

Friday marked the 19th anniversary of Mandela's inauguration as South Africa's first democratically elected — and first black — president, four years after he was released from prison.

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The Changing Lives Of Women
10:00 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Lady Mechanic Initiative Trains Women For 'The Best Job'

Students at the Lady Mechanic Initiative in Lagos, Nigeria, work on cars in their open air workshop.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 5:09 am

The young women training to be mechanics at Nigeria's Lady Mechanic Initiative wear navy overalls and work boots and their hair is tucked under customized red caps as they repair vehicles in a garage. Customers come and go, dropping off and collecting their cars. Trainee Enogie Osagie says she faced great resistance at home when she started.

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Africa
12:01 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

S. African Leader Under Fire After Awkward Visit With Mandela

In this image taken from video, South African President Jacob Zuma sits with ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Monday. Mandela was hospitalized in late March with a lung infection, and in images from the visit, appeared largely unresponsive.
SABC AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 2:48 pm

In South Africa, controversial images of a frail and ashen Nelson Mandela being visited by South Africa's current president aired on national television this week. Some people claimed it was a political publicity stunt.

The footage is fueling fresh debate about what is proper and what constitutes invasion of privacy regarding the ailing, 94-year-old former president and anti-apartheid legend.

President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by two other top officials of the governing ANC party, visited Mandela at his Johannesburg home on Monday.

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Music Interviews
4:51 am
Sat April 20, 2013

An American In Mali, Teaching The Country's Sounds

Sara Nimaga plays the balafon in Paul Chandler's music class at the American International School in Bamako, Mali.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 3:33 am

Numbers are down at the American International School in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

In just over a year, the country has witnessed a rebellion, a military coup and the occupation by Islamist fighters of the desert northern region, recently largely liberated in a counteroffensive by French-led forces. Despite the troubles, the school is open and classes continue.

Teacher Paul Chandler is taking his combined class of 6th- and 7th-graders through their early paces, learning the Malian music they'll be performing at the annual school concert.

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Remembrances
5:55 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Nigeria's Outspoken Writer Chinua Achebe Dies At 82

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, who played a critical role in establishing post-colonial African literature, has died. The author of Things Fall Apart was 82.

The Two-Way
3:29 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Author Of 'Things Fall Apart,' Dies

Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in January 2009.
Abayomi Adeshida AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 8:45 am

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Lagos, Nigeria, on the death of one of Africa's greatest contemporary writers. Quoting his publisher, AP, CNN, and the BBC are reporting Chinua Achebe has died.

Chinua Achebe who taught at colleges in the United States made literary history with his 1958 best-seller Things Fall Apart, a sobering tale about Nigeria at the beginning of its colonization.

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