Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

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.

White egrets swoop down on the Agbogbloshie Canal and stoop to pick at mounds of filth and trash in search of food. The clogged and stinky waterway dominates Agbogbloshie, the main shantytown in Accra, Ghana's capital city. You wonder how the birds manage to maintain white feathers as they wade in the putrid, muddy water.

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The campaign is called "Kick Back Ebola." But the posters pack a punch.

Sierra Leone has reported over 700 suspected Ebola cases, more than any other country this year. To help stop the outbreak, health workers have put up Ebola awareness signs all over Sierra Leone's seaside capital of Freetown.

Posters are pasted on hospital walls and outside clinics. Banners flutter along main streets. The goal of the campaign is to keep the reality of Ebola — and how to detect it — very much alive in people's minds.

Doctors and health workers in West Africa are especially vulnerable as they continue to battle to control the spread of Ebola, and dozens of them are dying.

The low for Sierra Leone came with the death of the country's campaigning "Ebola doctor," Dr. Sheik Humar Khan. Khan cared for dozens of patients before testing positive for Ebola and dying of the lethal virus late last month.

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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.

Oh no! Snails are getting a bad name in the U.S.

I'm not talking about the delicate garlic-and-butter escargots that the French favor and savor.

It's giant African land snails, also known as Archachatina marginata, banana rasp snails or a number of other names they go by.

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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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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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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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.

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