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Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent

Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

This is the home of my reports, updates and analysis from across the world’s liveliest continent

South Africa cricket: Not just a 'white sport'?

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section Africa
A boy practicing his bowl at a South African cricket club
The Malekutu Cricket Academy has had constant problems attracting funding

It takes a certain stubborn devotion to play cricket in Malekutu, an isolated rural village in the hills not far from South Africa's border with Mozambique.

There is no pitch, just a stretch of tattered carpet in the middle of an overgrown football field; tin cans balanced on a cinder block take the place of a wicket, and the locals are hardly enthusiastic.

"Most people here don't like cricket. Black people think this is a white sport. They prefer to watch soccer. I say, 'Come play and I'll teach you.' They refuse. Even this [cricket] World Cup... they prefer to sleep," sighs 16-year-old Mongezi Makoena, a keen batsman.

But for 10 years now, the Malekutu Cricket Academy (MCA) has been obstinately pursuing its dream, of helping to transform the sport from an elite, and still largely white-dominated, affair into something every South African child has the opportunity to try out.

"It's a struggle. Look at these kids, they're small, some are malnourished," says Vusi Mathebula, the founder and coach of the MCA as he breaks from a fairly gruelling training, complete with collective punishments for a dropped catch, with the under 16 team.

Players forced to 'plank' after one of the group dropped a catch
The coach at Malekutu enforces collective punishments for dropped catches

Read full article South Africa cricket: Not just a 'white sport'?

South Africa parliament ruckus is a noisy new low

  • 14 February 2015
  • From the section Africa
Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) (in red) clash with security officials after being ordered out of the chamber during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 12 February 2015
Is this the State of the Nation? White-clad security guards bundle Julius Malema's deputies out of the chamber

The clouds were sliding, majestically, down the slopes of Table Mountain.

There were brass bands outside the parliament below. A red carpet on the cobbles.

Read full article South Africa parliament ruckus is a noisy new low

Eugene de Kock parole: Has justice been done in South Africa?

  • 30 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
Eugene de Kock
Former police colonel Eugene de Kock was in charge of the notorious Vlakplaas police unit

It is not easy to find Vlakplaas - the small farm where some of South Africa's most notorious apartheid-era murders took place.

On a dirt road about 20km (12 miles) west of the capital, Pretoria, I pulled over and waved down a passing pickup truck to ask for directions.

Read full article Eugene de Kock parole: Has justice been done in South Africa?

Fana Mokoena's dilemma: Interstellar or revolution in South Africa?

  • 29 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
Publicity shot for Interstellar
Fana Mokoena missed out on a role in the hit Interstellar

Can you save the world, and still keep your day job? I remember Bob Geldof grumbling about that conundrum to me a decade ago in a dusty corner of Ethiopia.

Now South African actor Fana Mokoena is facing a similar dilemma.

Read full article Fana Mokoena's dilemma: Interstellar or revolution in South Africa?

Sudan's Omar al-Bashir gets Chinese-built presidential palace

  • 26 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
Photo of new presidential palace under constructions (June 2014)
The date of the opening ceremony is unlikely to be a coincidence

It is exactly 130 years since Gen Charles Gordon was hacked to death on the white steps of the governor-general's palace in Khartoum.

It was a defining moment in Britain's colonial history. Stubborn heroism, laced with irony, and the over-reaching folly of imperial ambition.

Read full article Sudan's Omar al-Bashir gets Chinese-built presidential palace

Julius Malema: South Africa's fiery politician mellows

  • 24 January 2015
  • From the section Africa

Julius Malema slipped quietly into the room, looking cheerful, perhaps a little slimmer than on our last encounter, and quite the opposite of the rabble-rousing, Mugabe-in-the-making demagogue that his enemies and critics in South Africa and abroad still like to portray.

"Marriage," he said by way of an explanation, and fell onto a sofa with a happy sigh. He recently married a woman from his neighbourhood in Limpopo.

Read full article Julius Malema: South Africa's fiery politician mellows

Guptagate: The scandal South Africa's Zuma can't shake

  • 21 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
This picture taken on February 22, 2010 shows the Palace hotel of Lost City in Sun City
A wedding at a glitzy resort hotel has caused a headache for South Africa's leader

It is two years since an unusual plane landed at a South African military air force base in Pretoria. The aircraft was a private jet carrying guests from India, heading to a high society wedding at Sun City - the famous casino resort in the hills to the north-west of the capital.

Military officials at the base gave the revellers a VIP welcome.

Read full article Guptagate: The scandal South Africa's Zuma can't shake

A closer look at South Africa's racially charged debates

  • 21 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
A white man and and a black woman watch the memorial service for Nelson Mandela on television in a bar in Soweto on 10 December 2013 in South Africa

It has been a sour, tetchy start to 2015 here in South Africa. A string of social-media-fuelled debates about race and responsibility seem to have dominated the news agenda.

There was Nelson Mandela's former assistant's bitter claim that "white's are not wanted or needed in South Africa".

Read full article A closer look at South Africa's racially charged debates

The African state where a grenade is cheaper than a Coke

  • 19 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
Packing of an arms consignment found in CAR
Packaging of a 2006 consignment traced by researchers showed that a batch of more than 25,000 Type 82.-2 grenades was manufactured in China

The grenades come from China, or Bulgaria. The mortars are Sudanese. The rocket launchers were made in Iran. The bullets are British, or Belgian or Czech. Spain and Cameroon provided the shotgun rounds. And so it goes on.

A detailed survey of the weapons currently circulating in the Central African Republic (CAR) offers some intriguing insights into the global arms industry, and the extent to which its output continues to find its way - legally or otherwise - into the hands of rebel armies.

Read full article The African state where a grenade is cheaper than a Coke

Ebola crisis: Returning to Kigbal village in Sierra Leone

  • 4 December 2014
  • From the section Africa

One month ago, Kigbal village, about three hours' drive from Sierra Leone's capital, was in the most agonising distress - ravaged by the Ebola virus, and seemingly ignored by the outside world.

The dead and dying lay on one side of the main road. Dozens of children - many told us they had lost one or both parents to Ebola - stood in an abject cluster on the far side of the tarmac.

Read full article Ebola crisis: Returning to Kigbal village in Sierra Leone

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About Andrew

Andrew has been Africa correspondent since 2009, covering the continent's highs and lows - from the World Cup, Africa's economic boom, and the literary treasures of Timbuktu, to the pirates of Somalia, the conflict in Ivory Coast, and the struggles of Zimbabwe.

He has spent twenty years as a foreign correspondent, based in the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia, and reported on the 1993 parliamentary rebellion in Moscow, two Chechen wars, the Asian tsunami in 2004, and conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Congo, Sudan, Liberia and beyond.

Andrew was born in the UK, grew up in Belgium and at boarding school. He is married with three children.

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