Young Nigerians Fight Boko Haram with Books

The Christian Science Monitor | June 19, 2018

As Boko Haram’s war against education in northeastern Nigeria grinds into its 10th year, a quiet counterinsurgency is also building strength. It’s a fight with unlikely front lines – like the battered open-air classrooms inside camps for displaced people across this region, where teachers lead geography lessons in open defiance of the group’s flat earth ideology. Or in the dormitories of girls’ boarding schools, jammed with chattering teenagers in pink hijabs, reading romance novels and braiding each other’s hair as though they have never heard of girls kidnapped in Chibok or Dapchi. 

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In a Nigerian melting pot, living – and loving – despite Boko Haram

The Christian Science Monitor | May 22, 2018

It was April 7, 2012, and on the dusty floor of his tiny pharmacy, Vincent Anibueze was waiting to die.


For doctor in Congo's overlooked conflict, 'crisis fatigue' isn't an option

The Christian Science Monitor | March 22, 2018

Dr. Elvis Badianga Kumbu can tell a lot about what’s happening in the Kasai region of Congo by the stories women tell him.

See more stories in The Christian Science Monitor here


On Cities.

On Cities.

Ponte City Tower

99 Percent Invisible | September 26, 2017

This 30-minute radio documentary tells the checkered history of Ponte City, Africa's tallest apartment building, from its early days as a "white" luxury building to its current iteration as a hub for immigrants arriving in Johannesburg from across the continent. 


In Juba's only post office, ghosts of a young country's hopes for 'normal'

The Christian Science Monitor  | September 7, 2017

The mail room of Juba's last post office, feels less like a place to send or receive mail than an intimate archive of a country upended by civil war. Its stacks of uncollected letters offer quiet hints of the upheavals that have shaken the world’s youngest country in the six years since its birth – separated families, shuttered businesses, lost connections to the outside world.

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Are bike lanes racist and classist? That’s the debate in South Africa.

The Washington Post | October 28, 2016

Practically speaking, bike lanes are far from Johannesburg’s most pressing transportation concern. Less than half of 1 percent of the population of 9 million uses a bike to go to work, and the local government spends about three times as much on council members’ travel as it had planned to spend on bulking up its bike lane infrastructure.

But symbolically, they loom large. In a city deliberately sliced up by segregationist city planning, questions of where and how people are able to travel have deep, often painful resonance.

See more: on housing apartheid in Cape Town, on the shuttering of a clubhouse that symbolized power and privilege in Johannesburg, on a literal bridge over South Africa's income divide, and on private cities in South Africa and in Uganda


On Migration.

On Migration.


After soccer star risked all for Europe, Gambia still wrestles with why she left

The Christian Science Monitor | December 27, 2017

Last October, when Fatim Jawara was 19, the star of Gambia's women's national soccer team quietly made a choice. She told her family and teammates she was going to play for a while with a team in neighboring Senegal. Then, with a friend, she set out on what Gambians euphemistically call “the back way” – a treacherous migrant route across West Africa and Libya, and then the Mediterranean Sea.


Refugee Runners: The Olympics Fields its First Team Without a Country

The Christian Science Monitor | June 2, 2016

This August, when the 205 country delegations march into Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Games, the procession will also be joined by a very different kind of Olympic team. For the first time in history, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is fielding a small team of refugees – between five and 10 athletes who will represent not a country, but all those without one.

Melinda Josie / The New York Times

Melinda Josie / The New York Times

Standing Watch Over a New Life

The New York Times Magazine | November 24, 2015

Before I came to South Africa, I was at a refugee camp in Mozambique for six months. From that camp you could see a certain mountain. The shape of it was like a woman lying down. People there told me that if you go beyond that mountain, you’re in South Africa. They said it was a place where they take care of refugees. In South Africa, I heard, you could have a regular job and a regular life.

What they didn’t say was that to officially become a refugee in South Africa, you must go to the immigration office every day and wait in a line that never moves. You must sleep there, with newspapers for blankets, so that you don’t lose your spot. They also didn’t say that even when you have papers, the only jobs you can get are the ones South Africans don’t want.

See more: on looking for legal status from Asmara to Tel Aviv to Kampala, on Swagger, Confidence, and the stories Zimbabwean migrants tell with their unusual names, and on the undertow of xenophobia in South Africa and its origins


Other features.

Other features.

Midnight's Children: Hope springs anew with Zimbabwean newborns

The Christian Science Monitor | December 5, 2017

Around 8 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2017, Moreblessing Mutsakani gave birth to her daughter Meryl, tiny and wailing and perfect. “She came a week early,” her mother says. “Like there was something she didn’t want to miss.”

Three hours later, at a hospital across town, in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, Aleeya Nokutenda Garakara was born. 

And then, at 5:41 p.m. on the evening of the two baby girls’ first day of life, the news came from parliament. After 37 years, seven months, and three days as the leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe had resigned.

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How Ghana's Gory, Gaudy Movie Posters Became High Art

The Atlantic Online | February 4, 2016

When Frank Armah began painting posters for Ghanaian movie theaters in the mid-1980s, he was given a clear mandate: Sell as many tickets as possible. If the movie was gory, the poster should be gorier (skulls, blood, skulls dripping blood). If it was sexy, make the poster sexier (breasts, lots of them, ideally at least watermelon-sized). And when in doubt, throw in a fish. Or don’t you remember the human-sized red fish lunging for James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me?

“The goal was to get people excited, curious, to make them want to see more,” he says. And if the movie they saw ended up surprisingly light on man-eating fish and giant breasts? So be it. “Often we hadn’t even seen the movies, so these posters were based on our imaginations,” he says. “Sometimes the poster ended up speaking louder than the movie.”



56 Miles of Freedom

Runners World | October 30, 2017

In the United States, ultramarathoners are, by reputation and reality, a very specific kind of runner—and a very specific kind of person. It’s a Trader Joe’s-loving, national park-vacationing, Subaru-driving kind of crowd, white collar and just plain white. (One 2013 survey of American ultrarunners found that less than .1 percent were black.)

In South Africa, ultrarunning may be an oddball pursuit, but it’s a far more mainstream kind of oddball. In a country where race and class still cleave society in painful and obvious ways, distance running is a rare experience that seems to transcend both. And at the root of why is one hellishly hilly, 56-mile footrace, the world's largest ultramarathon: The Comrades. 


See more: on the rise of Africa's largest homegrown humanitarian organization, on the shipping containers left behind in Africa and how shipping containers left Africa behind, on the coming of South Africa's first Catholic saint, on the Nigerian evangelical missionaries fanning out around the world, and on South Africa's first black astronomer.