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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3:33pm

Wed December 11, 2013
Africa

Nelson Mandela Lies In State In Pretoria Before Sunday Burial

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 5:26 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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6:22am

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

As Mandela Lies In State, South Africa Says Goodbye

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 12:13 pm

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

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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6:47am

Tue December 10, 2013
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

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

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 11:11 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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4:33pm

Sat December 7, 2013
Africa

South Africans Mourn Mandela, Celebrate His Life

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 5:33 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.

2:16am

Wed November 20, 2013
Africa

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

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 9:51 am

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

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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3:03am

Fri October 18, 2013
Africa

Nigerian Civilians Caught In Crackdown On Islamists

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 11:23 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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2:26am

Mon September 2, 2013
Crime In The City

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

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 4:54 pm

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

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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3:52pm

Wed July 31, 2013
Africa

Opposition Claims Zimbabwe Elections Were Manipulated

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 5:05 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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3:37pm

Thu July 4, 2013
Africa

Zimbabwe Braces For Upcoming Elections

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 8:59 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.

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4:30am

Sat May 11, 2013
Africa

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

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 9:11 am

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

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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2:00am

Thu May 2, 2013
The Changing Lives Of Women

Lady Mechanic Initiative Trains Women For 'The Best Job'

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 9:09 am

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

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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4:10pm

Wed May 1, 2013
Africa

S. African Leader Under Fire After Awkward Visit With Mandela

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 6:48 pm

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

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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9:55am

Fri March 22, 2013
Remembrances

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.

7:29am

Fri March 22, 2013
The Two-Way

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

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 12:45 pm

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

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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4:18am

Sat February 16, 2013
Religion

Pope's Resignation An Opportunity For Africa's Cardinals

Originally published on Sat February 16, 2013 9:03 pm

Priest Anthony Obanla says Mass at a church in Lagos, Nigeria. In Africa, where the Catholic Church continues to grow, worshipers and clergy hope to see one of their own rise to lead the faithful.
Sunday Alamba AP

The names of African cardinals are popping up as possible contenders to succeed Pope Benedict as head of the Roman Catholic Church when he steps down at the end of the month.

The Mary Mother of Good Council School is one of a number of respected Roman Catholic schools overseen by the archdiocese of Accra, the capital of the West African nation of Ghana. The Metropolitan archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer-Buckle, who trained as a priest at pontifical universities in Rome, is upbeat about the continent's contribution to the Catholic Church.

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