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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5:55am

Sun December 14, 2014
Goats and Soda

Gritty Ganta: The Liberian Town That Can't Catch A Break

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 9:16 am

The Liberia-Guinea border has been closed since the early days of the Ebola outbreak. The Liberian city of Ganta — about a mile from the border — has historically been a hub of commerce, and was hit hard by the closure.
John W. Poole NPR

Ganta is the Liberian city that never sleeps. That's what local businessman Prince Haward says of the town of 40,000, one of the country's largest cities and a crossroads for travelers in the southeastern region: "Ganta is a nonsleeping city ... a business-oriented city."

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1:33am

Fri December 12, 2014
Goats and Soda

Liberia's Daily Talk: All The News That Fits On A Blackboard

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:36 am

The Daily Talk uses chalk, photos and Liberian slang to spread the latest news. Editor Alfred Sirleaf set up the blackboard on Monrovia's main thoroughfare.
John W. Poole NPR

Just off Tubman Boulevard — Monrovia's busy main thoroughfare — stands a plywood hut with a large blackboard at the front, in three panels. On them — written in clear, bold white chalk lettering — is a form of newsreel: mini-articles and editorials, as well as graphics and illustrations. The creator of Daily Talk — this Liberian journal with a difference — is Alfred Sirleaf. He's 41 and has been "writing" the news since 2000, three years before the civil war ended.

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1:11pm

Mon December 8, 2014
Goats and Soda

Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:42 am

To ward off Ebola, a worker washes his hands at a construction site in Monrovia.
Pascal Guyot AFP/Getty Images

For months, Liberia was the country worst-hit by the Ebola outbreak. But the wards in Liberia's Ebola treatment units now stand virtually empty. The number of newly reported cases fell from almost 300 cases a week in mid-September to fewer than 100 by mid-October.

But that doesn't mean it's time to take it easy. In fact, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has just announced a new campaign, Ebola Must Go, which focuses on the role of the community.

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3:12pm

Fri December 5, 2014
Goats and Soda

Liberian President's Ambitious Goal: No New Ebola Cases By Christmas

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 6:58 am

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits for a portrait before an NPR interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to ring in the holidays with an ambitious goal: no new cases of Ebola in her country by Dec. 25.

"We believe we had to set a target that gave our people hope, a target that would make them more committed to taking all the precautionary measures," she says. "Yes, it's called ambitious, but sometimes you have to take a risk in being ambitious."

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12:06pm

Sat November 22, 2014
Parallels

Rumors Of Boko Haram Attack Send Nigerian Refugees Fleeing Again

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 1:54 pm

Civilians who had just recently arrived in Yola prepare to flee again, this time in a large open-top truck headed to the city of Jos.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

As Nigeria's military continues to battle Boko Haram fighters for control of towns and territory in the turbulent northeast, fearful residents are leaving — or being driven out of town. More than 200 schoolgirls, abducted by the Islamist extremists in April, are still missing.

Hoisting the black flag of al-Qaida, the insurgents have imposed strict Islamic law in areas under their control, vowing to establish a caliphate.

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4:30pm

Mon November 10, 2014
Parallels

For Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram, A Desperate Life On The Run

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:39 am

Ramatu Usman, shown here with one of her sons, is a 37-year-old mother of eight. She says she was separated from one of her sons, 6-year-old Yahaya Buba, following an attack. He is still missing.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Hopes were raised when the Nigerian military announced a cease-fire last month with the militants of Boko Haram, who have been fighting for years to impose Islamic law on Nigeria.

But the Islamist extremists denied there was a truce and have intensified deadly attacks and kidnappings in recent weeks, seizing territory said to be the size of Maryland and declaring a caliphate in the zone under their control.

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4:32am

Mon November 10, 2014
Africa

Suicide Bomber In School Uniform Targets High School

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 6:34 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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2:58am

Tue November 4, 2014
Africa

Burkina Faso Military Urged To Hand Power Back To Civilians

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 10:35 am

Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, named by Burkina Faso's army as interim leader following the ousting of President Blaise Compaore, leaves after a meeting with diplomats on Sunday in the capital Ouagadougou.
Issouf Sanogo AFP/Getty Images

The African Union has given the new military authorities in Burkina Faso two weeks to hand power back to civilians, or face sanctions.

This follows the abrupt resignation of the president last week, after days of street protests opposed to him trying to prolong his 27-year rule.

Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, from the elite presidential guard, is the new interim military leader after a brief power struggle within the army.

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10:41am

Thu October 23, 2014
Goats and Soda

I'll (Gag) Drink To That: Oral Rehydration Key For Ebola Patients

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 2:55 pm

At the onset of symptoms, Dr. Adaora Igonoh (center) and her colleagues began drinking oral rehydration solution. It doesn't taste great but they say it helped them survive Ebola. They each downed over a gallon a day for nearly a week.
Andrew Esiebo Courtesy of WHO

Have you ever swallowed unflavored rehydration solution, or ORS? That's what they call the mixture of salt, sugar and water given to Ebola patients.

I've taken more than a mouthful, and urgh! It tastes dreadful.

But doctors who were among Nigeria's Ebola survivors all agree that they may not have recovered from the virus without having forced down the foul-tasting, but apparently life-saving fluid.

Gallons of it.

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5:47am

Sun October 19, 2014
Global Health

U.N. Ebola Chief: We Are Working 'At Full Speed'

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:43 am

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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3:06am

Tue September 30, 2014
Goats and Soda

Martha Zarway Of Monrovia: 'I'm A Doctor, So We Can't Run Away'

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 11:46 am

Liberian physician Martha Zarway continues work in a temporary clinic while her original facility is disinfected.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

As U.S. troops begin arriving in Liberia to help contain the regional spread of Ebola, a physician in the capital is grappling with the virus upfront.

Dr. Martha Zarway's life turned upside down when one of her clinic staff members — a friend — died on Sept. 2 amid rumors that the cause of death was Ebola.

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2:27pm

Wed September 24, 2014
Goats and Soda

Grieving But Grateful, Ebola Survivors In Liberia Give Back

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 9:12 am

Bendu Borlay, 21 and an Ebola survivor, is caring for an infant whose mother died of the disease.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Harrison Sakilla, a 39-year-old former teacher, can't stop smiling.

"I have to smile," he says. "I'm the first survivor for the case management center here from Ebola."

Former patients like Sakilla, who've recovered from the virus, lift the collective spirit at at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola center in Liberia's northern town of Foya. He was admitted to the high-risk isolation unit, which is part of a cluster of large tents that make up the bulk of the center.

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11:03am

Fri September 12, 2014
Africa

Cleared Of Murder, Pistorius Found Guilty Of Culpable Homicide

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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4:40am

Fri September 12, 2014
Sports

Oscar Pistorius Guilty Of Culpable Homicide In Girlfiend's Death

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 11:03 am

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

1:24am

Thu September 11, 2014
Goats and Soda

Fast-Moving Ebola Slows Down Liberia's Economy

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 8:30 am

Not every business has been hurt by the Ebola epidemic: Stephen Kollie says his newspaper stand is thriving because people are hungry for the latest Ebola information. But many of his usual expatriate customers have left the country, he says.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Postwar Liberia had struggled back onto its feet in the past decade, after the civil war, and was just catching its collective breath when Ebola landed. One of the lasting effects of Ebola on the country is likely to be its impact on the economy.

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2:32pm

Tue September 9, 2014
Goats and Soda

In Liberia's Hard-Hit Lofa County, Ebola Continues To Take A Toll

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 1:18 pm

Alieu P. Manor, 18, survived Ebola. He gazes into the room of his cousin, Varlee Kanneh, who was not so lucky.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has hurt Liberia more than any other country. And within Liberia, no town has been hit harder than the primarily Muslim farming town of Barkedu, in Lofa County in the far north. Despite a population of just 8,000, the small, dusty town accounts for a large percentage of the country's more than 1,000 Ebola deaths to date. The virus has swept away entire families — children, women and men.

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11:43am

Mon September 8, 2014
Goats and Soda

In The County Where Ebola First Struck Liberia, A Cry For Help

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 6:46 am

Morris Nyumah wanted to help his country fight Ebola, so he signed up to work as a hygienist at the Doctors Without Borders care center in Lofa County.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Lush and green, Lofa was once the breadbasket of Liberia. But farming has slowed in the northern county. The reason is Ebola.

The virus reportedly first landed in Liberia when an infected person crossed the border into Lofa County from neighboring Guinea in March.

Doctors Without Borders is there to care for the sick.

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2:36pm

Thu September 4, 2014
Goats and Soda

Remembering Shacki: Liberia's Accidental Ebola Victim

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 10:01 am

Eva Nah raised her nephew Shacki from the age of 2, when he lost his parents. "Every day [when] I wake up I cry because I feel bad that Shacki has left me," she says.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Sixteen-year-old Shacki Kamara was an accidental victim of Ebola. He didn't die of the virus, but if the virus hadn't struck Liberia, he might still be alive.

Kamara lived in West Point, a shantytown on a peninsula jutting out from the capital city of Monrovia. An Ebola holding center there was attacked on Aug. 16 and patients fled; on Aug. 20, the government imposed a lockdown.

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9:46am

Thu September 4, 2014
Goats and Soda

Liberia's Information Minister Admits Mistakes, Defends Actions

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 11:17 am

Information minister Lewis Brown is proud of Liberia's strong response to Ebola but admits, "We think sometimes we could have done better — much quicker — to improve the response time."
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

For more than an hour, the Liberian government official took questions from NPR. Despite the tense times in his Ebola-stricken country, Lewis Brown, minister of information, cultural affairs and tourism, was welcoming and animated. His mood was upbeat, although not overly optimistic. He spoke with NPR's team in his office, furnished with black patent leather sofas. He was late for his next meeting because of the long interview but graciously dismissed any concerns we expressed about running late.

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1:17pm

Wed September 3, 2014
Goats and Soda

Calm After Ebola Storm: Quarantined Neighborhood Opens Up

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 7:13 am

A group sings to raise awareness about Ebola in Monrovia's West Point neighborhood.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Residents in West Point are lined up, waiting impatiently for handouts of beer, parboiled rice and split peas.

The neighborhood around them is bustling with activity. Rows of tiny shacks and little shops are open for business. There's a traffic jam, as bright yellow, three-wheeled rickshaw taxis try to zoom up and down the narrow, main road.

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