The man admired by presidents and warlords

  • 29 March 2015
  • From the section Magazine
Mark Doyle in Rwanda at the time of the genocide

Road blocks can be tricky things - not least for journalists. Grenades brandished at car windows on narrow roads. Bored kids with big guns looking to make a point.

Sometimes a piece of official paper will get you through. Or cigarettes. Or lots of smiles. But often - and without wanting to sound too melodramatic - the difference between safe passage and something much nastier can boil down to a word, a name.

Saying "BBC" has helped me plenty of times - certainly more times than it's hindered. I've shouted it out in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Somalia.

In 2011 we were waved down by sullen armed men on a country road in Ivory Coast. I could see four, maybe five people tied up in the bushes nearby, staring at us in silent desperation. "Are you French?" the commander asked, menacingly. "We don't like the French."

A few days later, further south, I had to beg for the life of our local fixer. He was Muslim. The soldiers made him kneel by a ditch, a barrel jabbing the back of his neck.

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Ebola survivor 'hiding' from community

  • 3 March 2015
  • From the section Africa

Siannie Beyan stood on the stage with the other Ebola survivors in Monrovia's City Hall, singing a short, joyful hymn, and trying to hold onto a smile.

As the crisis fades here in Liberia - no new confirmed infections for 10 days and counting - there is a tangible sense of relief.

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Liberia Ebola doctor: 'We're going to win very soon'

  • 2 March 2015
  • From the section Africa
Doctor Mosoka Fallah
Doctor Mosoka Fallah says Liberia defied predictions that 500,000 people would die

Doctor Mosoka Fallah - a stout, gruff, profoundly earnest man - stood outside a small house on the outskirts of Monrovia in Liberia wondering if this is where it would all end.

"This is the last stretch, the last mile. There's a lot of pressure on us. If they all go for 21 days without symptoms then that could be the end of Ebola," said the 44-year-old Harvard-trained doctor, watching his colleagues take the temperatures of a dozen women and children gathered on the porch.

Read full article Liberia Ebola doctor: 'We're going to win very soon'

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.

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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