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Somali refugee poet: Why I am a walking stereotype

Eighteen-year-old Saida Dahir, a Somali refugee living in the US, has told the BBC that her new spoken-word collection of poetry is her way of showing people - like US President Donald Trump - what it is like to be a migrant.

The collection, The Walking Stereotype, was released on iTunes last month and includes 13 poems, all in English, as Dahir does not speak Somali.

She told BBC Newsday that Paper and Pen was her favourite poem, written in response to President Trump's move last year to ban the citizens of several Muslim countries, like Somalia, from coming to America.

Dear Mr President, In those seven countries, children can't even go to school. And here we have the audacity to sit in class and drool. So many children wish for an education, with no limitation - but they live in a nation where little boys learn about war way before they learn their ABC, while their families are thirsty and dying of disease. And when those bombs hit, there's no where left to flee. Are you too blind to even see clearly?"

She told the BBC that it felt natural to turn to poetry to express herself as Somalia is "the nation of poets":

Every single person in my family writes poetry and has a way with their words.''

The teenage poet, who lives in Salt Lake City, says the title of her collection came from a joke her friend made when they noticed that she was a part of many marginalised groups in the US:

I am black, I am a Muslim, I am a refugee, I am a woman... .and she joked, 'Saida, you're basically the walking stereotype.' From there, I took that phrase and ran with it, because it was so true.''

Listen to her full interview:

The teenage poet living in Salt Lake City tells us what inspires her work

Cameroon's separatist leader sentenced to life

Leocadia Bongben

BBC Pidgin, Yaoundé

Sisiku Ayuk Tabe
Sisiku Ayuk Tabe had been based in Nigeria for some time before his arrest

A leader of Cameroon's separatist movement, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, and nine of his followers have been given life sentences by a military court in the capital, Yaoundé.

The 10 had been arrested in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, in January 2018 and were sent to Cameroon to face trial.

They have been convicted of various charges, including rebellion.

Tabe and his followers have been campaigning for the creation of an independent state called Ambazonia, made up of Cameroon’s English-speaking North-West and South-West regions.

Cameroon's English-speaking minority say they have been marginalised for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.

The Anglophone crisis started in 2016 when lawyers and teachers went on strike over attempts to impose French in schools and courts in the North-West and South-West.

Some took up arms in 2017 and the crisis has forced more than 500,000 people from their homes.

Fears over Ghana bank crackdown

Thomas Naadi

BBC Africa, Accra

A woman holds a fan of cedi notes in her hand.
About 70,000 savers are affected

Thousands of people in Ghana who deposited their money in some bank accounts are worried they'll never get it back, after 23 savings and loans companies had their licences removed in a crackdown by the country's central bank.

It says these companies are not fit for purpose because they don't have enough cash reserves to meet demand if lots of savers want to withdraw their money at once.

Some 70,000 people are affected, with as much as 9bn cedis ($1.6bn; £1.3bn) tied up.

Here's what one investor told the BBC anonymously:

When I heard the news I was really worried - I’m a single parent and my rent is due. Now that they have promised to pay, they should pay it quickly. I hustle under this scorching sun to make money, it’s not easy at all. I don’t think I will invest in any financial institution again."

The central bank, the Bank of Ghana, has pointed the finger at endemic mismanagement across the sector. But many say the central bank itself is to blame for not carrying out its supervisory role effectively.

Most small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on these institutions for their savings and business loans.

Spectacular launch for Morocco's African Games

Ferdinand Omondi

BBC Africa, Rabat

The opening ceremony for the African Games in Morocco's capital, Rabat, on Monday night was spectacular - with amazing light displays to kick off the continent's biggest sporting event.

The tournament, formerly known as the All Africa Games and involving more than 6,000 athletes from all 54-member states of the African Union (AU), is largely seen as a test run for the North African country’s ambition to host the Olympics for the first time in Africa.

About 17 of the 30 competitions will also serve as qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Morocco is participating in the games for the first time since it rejoined the AU in 2017.

Here are some photos from the show:

Light show at the opening ceremony of the African Games in Morocco
Light show at the opening ceremony of the African Games in Morocco

Spectators enjoyed the extravaganza:

Spectators at the opening ceremony for the African Games in Morocco
Fireworks at the opening ceremony of the African Games in Morocco

And athletes also got to parade into the stadium - below is the Ethiopian team. Nigeria has brought along the largest contingent at 427, followed by Kenya with more than 300 athletes and officials.

Ethiopian team at the African Games opening ceremony

Congo's Baka pygmies protest against park funding

The creation of the Messok Dja National Park in north-western Congo-Brazzaville is threatening the Baka pygmies, the community has said in a letter to the European Commission, one of the project's main funders.

The Baka say they are already banned from entering the forest to hunt for food.

“The forest is our home. We rely on the forest to live… But you people have stolen our forest. What are we going to do? How will we survive?” the letter says.

It pleads with European officials to visit the Baka before providing more money for the plan.

In a statement the European Commission says it has not heard from the Baka people directly, that it is in touch with the authorities in Congo-Brazzaville and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which is also funding the park, and that it has asked them to make sure that all people affected and all those who live in that area are properly consulted.

However, Survival International, the organisation championing the Baka’s case and which posted a copy of their letter online, says the European Commission and WWF have known for a while that local people oppose the project set up to protect elephants.

Survival International researcher Fiore Longo told BBC Newsday:

The truth is the forest has been managed for generations by the Baka who depend and rely on the forest - it’s not a coincidence that the most bio-diverse forests in the world are the ones where indigenous people live - and of course they don’t have any interest in over hunting or poaching."

Listen to her full interview:

The Baka say they have been banned from entering the forest

Burkina Faso soldiers killed in 'barbaric attack'

A Burkina Faso soldier on patrol - archive shot
Getty Images
The Burkinabé military has been under pressure as militant attacks increase

At least 10 soldiers have been killed by militants in northern Burkina Faso, the military has said.

Many others were wounded in the attack in Koutougou, in Soum province - which borders Mali - and other soldiers are reported missing.

"In reaction to this barbaric attack, a vast air and land search operation is seeking to neutralise the many assailants," the military statement said.

Islamist violence is increasing in Burkina Faso, with three key Islamist militant groups establishing a front in north and east.

Hundreds of people have been killed so far this year and more than 150,000 have fled their homes because of the attacks spreading across the Sahel region.

In December, a state of emergency was declared in several northern regions, granting security forces extra powers to search homes and restrict freedom of movement.

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DR Congo to give cross-border traders Ebola vaccines

Gaius Kowene

BBC Africa, Kinshasa

A medic vaccinating someone in DR Congo against Ebola
Getty Images
There is concern that the vaccine to be used requires two doses

More than 60,000 traders in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who cross the border regularly into Rwanda and Uganda are to be vaccinated to curb an Ebola outbreak.

Cases recorded recently in the Congolese trading hub of Goma, which is on Rwanda’s border, and have raised concerns of cross-border spread.

According to Jean Jacques Muyembe, the co-ordinator of the Ebola response in DR Congo - where the virus has killed more than 1,900 in the last year - the health authorities in Rwanda have also ordered 100,000 doses of the vaccine for a similar campaign targeting traders.

Over the last month, Rwandan border officials have been limiting the number of traders they allow over to Goma each day.

It is not clear when the mass vaccination campaign will start.

Dr Muyembe said after vaccinating cross-border traders, response teams would then expand vaccination to whole villages where Ebola cases are confirmed.

The experimental vaccine to be used is backed by several international health experts, including the WHO, but has sparked some controversy in DR Congo.

The vaccine is produced by Johnson & Johnson and is different from the single dose Merck vaccine that has been used over the past year in DR Congo.

Sources within the response team told the BBC they were concerned about that fact that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires two doses given 50 days apart for it to be effective.

That could be challenging in eastern DR Congo, where people move around quite a lot and misinformation and distrust have already slowed down Ebola response efforts.