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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Goats and Soda
12:23 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Guinea's Grand Imam Pulls No Punches In His Ebola Message

Guinea's Grand Imam, El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, tells his fellow clerics: "If there is any doubt at all, then no one must touch the body."
Kevin Leahy NPR

"Ebola — you have to do more," roars the barrel-bellied cleric El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, with his white beard and mustache, in a snow-white boubou, the traditional flowing gown of West Africa.

That's the message he delivered over the weekend to hundreds of his fellow clerics, who gathered in Kindia, the third largest city in Guinea and a major crossroads. Many of the residents still blame Westerners for bringing the virus to their country.

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Goats and Soda
4:24 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Africa's Soccer Tourney Takes Guinea's Mind Off Ebola

Guinea's defender Fode Camara (left) heads the ball over Ivory Coast's forward Wilfried Bony in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Issouf Sanogo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 7:22 am

Red, gold and green – Guinea's national colors — filled the streets of the capital, Conakry, early this morning. Guineans of all ages proudly wore the colors on their T-shirts, headbands, dresses and shorts. Children, with their cheeks and foreheads painted, ran around the street cheering, blowing whistles and waving their nation's flags.

But by 3 p.m. the streets were dead.

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Africa
2:38 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

School's Back On In Guinea: Reading, Writing, Temperature-Taking

Six-year old Hadja Sow (left) and a classmate on their first day back at school after a prolonged break because of Ebola.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 6:38 am

At the crack of dawn, the Sow family — parents and four children, two girls and two boys — are up at their home in Conakry, Guinea's capital.

Sitting on a wooden stool, Aissatou Sow bends over to light a gas stove on the floor and heat up a breakfast of fried fish, vegetables and french fries, plus hot milk and fruit.

El Hadj Alhassane is 11; his sister Hadja is 6. They're off to school after being out of class for six months.

Big bro helps little sis zip up her backpack, and they head out the door into their dad's car.

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Africa
3:01 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Countdown To Zero: Guinea's Campaign To Conquer Ebola In 60 Days

Cheerleaders with pompoms helped kick off a government campaign to eliminate Ebola from Guinea in 60 days.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 12:34 pm

Hundreds of spectators and government officials watched as music and fanfare filled the People's Palace in Conakry, Guinea. Cheerleaders danced vigorously, waving pompoms and twirling on stage. The festive event on Saturday kicked off the government's newest campaign: zero Ebola cases in 60 days.

"Guineans talk too much. People resist even the idea that Ebola exists," said the prime minister, Mohamed Said Fofana, when he took the stage. "Why do we refuse to accept what others have accepted? We really must get a grip on the situation."

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Africa
5:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Nigerian Forces Fight To Free Town From Terrorists

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 9:31 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
10:37 am
Wed December 31, 2014

A Son Is Lost Without His Mother. So Is A Country

Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh and her only child, Bankole Cardoso. Even after she was diagnosed with Ebola, her son says, "Her morale was not low. She is such a fighter."
Courtesy of Bankole Cardoso

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 7:19 am

She is one of the African health workers who caught Ebola and died. Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh was the head of First Consultants Medical Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. In July, Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer flew sick to the city from Monrovia, ended up at her clinic and turned out to have Ebola. He wanted to leave. Dr. Adadevoh and her team refused to let him go — if she had, he could have triggered a wide-scale epidemic in Lagos, a city of 20 million people.

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Goats and Soda
10:09 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Ebola Survivor: Faith And Oral Rehydration Salts Got Her Through

Dr. Ada Igonoh is an Ebola survivor.
Akintunde Akinleye Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 4:53 pm

Dr. Ada Igonoh says her faith and ORS (oral rehydration salts) helped her pull through after she tested positive for Ebola. The 28-year-old Nigerian doctor was on the medical team that cared for the country's first Ebola patient, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who flew into Lagos sick and died at the clinic where she worked. Nigeria was hailed for halting what many feared could have been a catastrophic outbreak. Dr. Igonoh shares her story of fear, faith and recovery.

Tell me a little about yourself.

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NPR Ed
2:29 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

Where Ebola Has Closed Schools, A Radio Program Provides A Faint Signal Of Hope

Florence Allen Jones, right, is part of the education ministry's classes-by-radio team.
John W. Poole/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 10:13 am

Florence Allen Jones used to teach in Washington, D.C., before coming back home to Liberia.

Now she's part of the education ministry's teaching-by-radio team. Working with UNICEF and another nonprofit, Talking Drum, in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, the government aims to provide lessons to children across the country, hit by the Ebola outbreak. Most schools closed this past summer and will likely remain closed for months.

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Goats and Soda
1:23 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Christmas In Liberia: Ebola Fears, No Snow, Holiday Spirit

A man peddles plastic Christmas trees and lights in downtown Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 6:43 am

Ebola has cast a shadow over Liberia, but it can't stop Christmas.

Despite the trauma of the past year, Liberians are trying to have a happy holiday season. Carols are playing on the radio and there's lots of decorating — and painting — going on.

"At a certain time of the year we want our homes to look good," says journalist Siatta Scott Johnson. "It's like a competition in Liberia when it comes to the festive season."

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Goats and Soda
5:55 am
Sun December 14, 2014

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

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
1:33 am
Fri December 12, 2014

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

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

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

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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Global Health
2:39 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Is Down, But Not Out, In Liberia

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:49 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
1:11 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

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

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

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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Africa
5:38 am
Sun December 7, 2014

In Liberia, 'Looking Good Is A Business'

Originally published on Sun December 7, 2014 10:25 am

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Liberians have been gripped by crisis after crisis. A long and brutal civil war shattered the West African country and now Ebola. But NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been looking into another far lighter side of life in that country - fashion.

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Goats and Soda
2:20 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

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

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

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

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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Parallels
12:06 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Rumors Of Boko Haram Attack Send Nigerian Refugees Fleeing Again

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

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

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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Parallels
4:30 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

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

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

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

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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Africa
4:32 am
Mon November 10, 2014

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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Africa
2:58 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Burkina Faso Military Urged To Hand Power Back To Civilians

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
10:41 am
Thu October 23, 2014

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

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

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

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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Global Health
5:47 am
Sun October 19, 2014

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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Goats and Soda
3:06 am
Tue September 30, 2014

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

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
1:44 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Grieving But Grateful, Ebola Survivors In Liberia Give Back

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

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

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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Africa
11:03 am
Fri September 12, 2014

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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Sports
4:40 am
Fri September 12, 2014

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/.

Goats and Soda
1:24 am
Thu September 11, 2014

Fast-Moving Ebola Slows Down Liberia's Economy

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
2:32 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

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

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
11:43 am
Mon September 8, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 7:00 am

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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Goats and Soda
2:41 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Remembering Shacki: Liberia's Accidental Ebola Victim

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

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

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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Goats and Soda
9:40 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Liberia's Information Minister Admits Mistakes, Defends Actions

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

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

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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