Obama's visit: To Kenya and Ethiopia

USA130629AA003NAIROBI — Excitement built before President Obama's arrival Friday in the country of his father's birth for a two-nation African tour.

Kenyan and American flags were hoisted along roads, cleaners scrubbed the asphalt clean, and police relocated homeless families from the routes Obama is likely to take. James Bwire, a Nairobi-based sculptor who designed several billboards to celebrate the president's visit, said he hopes to get close enough to deliver a small bust he crafted of Obama.

Read more at USA TODAY

Witch doctor: Foretells Obama's visit to Kenya

USA130426AA001KOGELO — President Obama is not officially scheduled to visit his ancestral home when he visits East Africa this week, but witch doctor John Dimo knows better.

After tossing some shells and animal bones on the ground, Dimo is convinced the American president will come to this tiny village, home of Mama Sarah Obama, 95, his step-grandmother, and the burial place of Barack Obama Sr., his father.

Read more at USA TODAY

Ebola outbreak: How sex is keeping it alive

Ebola VirusFREETOWN — Love and lust are hindering Sierra Leone’s fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

In recent months, government officials and international health workers have slowed the spread of Ebola, which the World Health Organization, or WHO, said has infected 13,059 Sierra Leoneans, claimed the lives of 3,928 in the country and killed another 7,300 people throughout West Africa since the current outbreak started in late 2013.

Read more at The Global Post

Failed coup: Tests democracy in Burundi

civ120607aa001BUJUMBURA — Circling vultures monitor the shaky efforts to restore peace in the streets — a week after a failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza, clashes between police and demonstrators continue, and many of those who returned home are forced to find shelter once again.

Tension and insecurity are running high here in this small, landlocked nation, which many see as a symbolic test of the region’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law in a country that has known brutal political violence in the past..

Read more at The Washington Times

World's largest: Refugee camp in Kenya at risk of closing

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR151515aa002.jpegDADAAB, Kenya — The world's largest refugee camp is becoming a scene of not only chronic misery but a new and growing confrontation between a Kenyan government threatening to shut it down and occupants vowing to stay.

The government announced April 11 that it wanted the camp closed within three months because it was used as a staging ground by al-Shabab terrorists for the deadly university attack in Garissa earlier this month that killed more than 140 students and staff.

Read more at USA Today

Mali law: Would reserve one-third of government jobs for women

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegBAMAKO, Mali — An unlikely battle in an unlikely place has broken out over a bid to guarantee Mali’s women a seat at the political table in this poor, conflict-ridden and heavily Muslim African country.

If enacted, a proposed law before Malian lawmakers would reserve one-third of government jobs for women, including in elected offices. Currently, only 14 women sit in Mali’s 147-member parliament, three women belong to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s Cabinet of 33 ministers, and men claim the vast bulk of civil service positions.

Read more at The Washington Times

The splintering: Of Somalia has crippled education

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR151515aa002.jpegSomali universities are beginning to recover from two decades of civil war but a lack of government oversight, an ongoing brain drain and security concerns continue to imperil higher education in the country.

And education analysts don’t expect the situation to change anytime soon.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Al-Shabab militants: Create chaos, pain for Somalis

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR151515AA001.jpegMOGADISHU, Somalia — Sitting under a veranda at the former headquarters of Somali Airlines, Ali Bashir sipped coffee and chewed khat, an African herb, as he recounted 15 years of anarchy fomented by al-Shabab Islamic terrorists.

"Life is very hard here," he lamented. "There's nothing to eat and nowhere to work. But the rebels will come and still ask you for money."

Read more at USA Today

Christian-Muslim conflict: In Central African Republic has refugees afraid to leave camps

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa002.jpegBANGUI, Central African Republic — No matter how safe they tell her it is outside, Bahriyah Abidah insists she won’t leave the St. Joseph Mukassa camp.

The United Nations recently announced that it was dispatching another 1,000 soldiers to bring the total peacekeeping force in this desperately impoverished country to 13,000 troops. However, France is slowly reducing its force of 2,000 soldiers and the European Union pulled out its 750 troops last month. Both said their presence is no longer necessary.

Read more at The Washington Times

Kenyan leader: Warns rogue imams; militants vow 'bloodbath'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KEN150915aa002.jpegPARIS — A bloody day in the heart of the City of Light left some of France’s best-known journalists dead and police tracking down the native Islamist terrorists suspected of carrying out the murders to avenge what they said were insults to the founder of their faith. One suspect surrendered and two others were missing.

The well-coordinated early-morning attack on the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo targeted the editor of the bitingly satiric weekly, Stephane Charbonnier, nine colleagues and a security guard, all murdered in cold blood by masked assailants who reportedly called out the names of their victims as they were shot.

Read more at USA Today

In Kenyan: Town where students were massacred, 'it's not safe'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KEN150410aa003.jpegGARISSA, Kenya — Tension and anxiety remained high Friday as the Kenyan military launched a campaign to flush out terrorists linked to the Garissa University College massacre.

The campaign came as Kenyan Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett imposed a curfew on the borderlands with Somalia from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. local time.

Read more at USA Today

Terror attack: Over, 147 dead at Kenya university

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KEN151515aa001.jpegNAIROBI, Kenya — Armed terrorists stormed a university in northern Kenya on Thursday, killing 147 people, wounding dozens and taking hostages during a 15-hour siege until four militants were killed by security forces. Christians and converts to Islam appeared to have been the targets.

More than 550 students were evacuated and 79 were injured in the standoff on the Garissa University campus, about 90 miles from the Somali border. The Somali-based Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack — the al-Qaeda-linked organization's deadliest in Kenya.

Read more at USA Today

Nigeria's new: President swears to crush Boko Haram

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150411aa002.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — Former general Muhammadu Buhari vowed during his successful campaign for president that he would root out corruption rife within Nigeria's government and snuff out the insurgency by Boko Haram extremists. He'll have a chance to prove whether his record as an anti-corruption crusader and an iron-fisted military ruler will pay off.

"I voted for Buhari because I believe he has what it takes to put the country on the path of genuine growth," said Moses Auta, 29. "Based on his military background, I am sure Buhari will be able to tackle the menace of Boko Haram."

Read more at USA Today

Nigerian President: Goodluck loses re-election

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150410aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — President Goodluck Jonathan conceded Tuesday to a former military general in an election decided by voter fury at government corruption and failure to combat Boko Haram militants who have killed thousands of civilians.

His defeat is the first time an incumbent has been voted out of office in Africa's most populous nation and represents its first civilian transfer of power.

Read more at USA Today

Boko Haram: Rampage may spell defeat for Nigeria president

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150410aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — Buba Ibrahim's belief that President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to stem Boko Haram's rampage throughout the country could spell defeat in the presidential election here Saturday.

"We saw them come into town riding on several motorcycles and shooting in the air," said Ibrahim, 35, recalling when the Islamic extremists overran his hometown in northern Nigeria last year. "They rode into the market that was filled to capacity, shooting and killing indiscriminately."

Read more at USA Today

As Ebola: Eases, Sierra Leone still struggles to recover

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141002aa001.jpegLOKOMASAMA, Sierra Leone — This time of year, traders usually are busy buying rice and other foodstuffs from towns in the swampy inland valleys north of Freetown, the capital of this poor country.

But the rampaging Ebola epidemic first reported exactly a year ago has snuffed out that commerce, along with the lives of 3,629 Sierra Leoneans, according to the latest World Health Organization data.

Read more at The Washington Times

Boko Haram: Haunts kids, 'I wish I could also have died'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa001.jpegBAGA SOLA, Chad — Memories of Boko Haram's murderous spree in his Nigerian hometown haunt Tom Gowon, 9, as he sits on a patch of grass at a refugee camp, sipping steaming porridge from a plastic mug.

"I was lucky because I was not killed," said Gowon, recalling the assault on Baga, Nigeria, in early January. "But they shot and killed my father. My mother was kidnapped by the militants."

Read more at USA Today

Baby trafficking: Is a lucrative business in Kenya

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_civ120607aa001.jpegNAIROBI, Kenya — In this country of widespread poverty, one of the most lucrative businesses is also one of the most heartbreaking: baby trafficking.

It is common in Kayole, a slum in the capital here, for gangs to steal or buy infants from mothers who are told their child had died or who can't afford to have more children.

Read more at USA Today

Witch hunts: Increase in Tanzania as albino deaths jump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150227aa001.jpegTABORA, Tanzania — Many women are living in fear in this rural part of northwestern Tanzania because they are increasingly being targeted by witch hunts — literally.

This East African country is grappling with an upswing in vigilante justice as villagers attack women they believe are witches responsible for the murders of albinos, whose white skin some believe possess magical powers.

Read more at USA Today

Nigerians skeptical: Vote delay will aid Boko Haram fight

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150710aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — As he shined shoes in Nyanya, a bustling neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, Umaru Sani explained why he will vote against President Goodluck Jonathan next month.

"How can I vote for such a person who could only add to my woes?" asked Sani, 27, who fled to Abuja after the militant Islamic group Boko Haram overran his hometown of Michika in northern Nigeria six months ago.

Read more at USA Today

Joseph Kony: Warlord eludes capture in Uganda


GULU, Uganda — Not a day passes that Patricia Akello Wamoyi doesn’t relive the violence inflicted on her family and community by Joseph Kony and his militant cult, the Lord's Resistance Army, 13 years ago.

Her husband’s spirit doesn’t let her forget.

Read more at The Washington Times

Fear lingers: In Mali despite no new Ebola cases


BAMAKO, Mali — A 17-year-old boy hawking disinfectant soap on the streets of this capital city says his business has grown as Malians have taken to washing their hands throughout the day.

"It's because of Ebola," Yacouba Bamaba said.

Read more at USA Today

Ebola plays: Scrooge on Sierra Leone Christmas


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The annual Christmas parade has been canceled, shoppers are scarce, no one is going to holiday parties, and even decorations are missing.

In this tiny West African country, blame Ebola for playing Scrooge.

Read more at USA Today

Radio educates: Sierra Leone amid Ebola lockdown


FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — At this time of year, 12-year-old Joseph Sheriff should be sitting in a classroom with other students in this capital city. Instead, he's at home, frantically scribbling notes and listening intently to his family's small radio.

With Sierra Leone on lockdown as the deadly Ebola virus continues to spread throughout West Africa, authorities here are keeping schools shuttered, forcing Joseph and 1.7 million children like him to stay home. 

Read more at USA Today

Voices: Ebola establishes dictatorship in Sierra Leone

SLE140411AK002FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE — Since the Ebola outbreak began in May, Sierra Leone has become an authoritarian state. It's not one dominated by politicians, religious leaders, the army or the police – it's a dictatorship by virus. Ebola has taken over everyone's thoughts, actions, just about everything.

This notion struck me as I washed my hands. Authorities have wisely set up hand-washing stations everywhere to prevent the spread of Ebola. The stations reinforce the new codes of behavior that dominate what was once an easygoing, multicultural country — avoiding handshakes, avoiding crowded spaces, avoiding family, avoiding friends.

Read More at USA Today

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