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  1. Nigeria's navy 'fights off pirate attack'
  2. Zimbabwe's leader 'cancels' Ghana visit
  3. Bahrain gold medallist still "Kenyan by blood"
  4. French customs seizes dead seahorses from Guinea
  5. Court action in Zambia to annul president's poll win
  6. Mauritania imprisons anti-slavery campaigners
  7. Get Involved: #BBCAfricaLive WhatsApp: +44 7341070844
  8. Email stories and comments to - Friday 19 August 2016

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That's all from the BBC Africa Live page today. Keep up-to-date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website

A reminder of our African proverb: 

The venom of the viper does nothing to the back of the tortoise."

Sent by Funwi Julius, Bamenda, Cameroon.

Click here and scroll to the bottom to send us your African proverbs

We leave you with a picture from our selection of some of the best photographs from Africa this week. This one is of a crowd at a rally in South Africa to mark the fourth anniversary of the killing of 34 miners by police:   

Crowd in Marikana

Nigerian booksellers decry 'decline in reading culture'

Isa Sanusi

BBC Africa, Abuja

Ayuba Lawan

Ayuba Lawan sells a mixture of fiction, history and academic titles at his stall in the northern city of Kano.

But business is very slow, he tells me.

"Days go without selling even one book. Today I sold one book, and I don't have the hope of selling any more. I used the money from the sale of the book to buy lunch."

This huge city is the home of Hausa literature, with many authors here opting to self-publish their works.  

Although Kano has a vibrant literary culture, with new romance novels being released every week, book sales are declining, local journalist Aminu Adamu, a literary man, tells me. 

Ado Danmalam, another bookseller in the market, has his own theory for the fall in sales:

There is decline in reading culture, which is one of the impacts of economic hardship. Everything is just upside down."

"West African Verse", the "Nigerian civil war" and other titles on display at a book stall
Novels, romance, history and classics are all on show at the Kano book stalls

Your say: Is it wrong for athletes to switch countries?

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Many of you have been getting in touch with your views on the issue of African athletes choosing to represent other countries at the Olympics (see earlier post).

We asked on the BBC Africa Facebook page whether you thought the practice was wrong:

It's not fair play. It's not a true reflection of the host countries' sporting achievement."

Mohammed Tahir, Abuja

We have dual citizenship in Kenya so I don't see it as an issue when anyone wants to export their talent and skill abroad. After all we have thousands of Kenyan doctors, teachers, businessmen and soldiers working abroad."

Senior Lord Jumbah, Kenya

No. If the parent country does not appreciate and support your efforts you go somewhere else. It's like personal relationships; if your partner doesn't make you happy or doesn't share your ambition you change."

Patrick Serugga, Uganda

Looking forward to the day a white European participates for an African country... that will be a first."

Kisakye Shinobo Ellis, Uganda

Jailed DR Congo activists 'pardoned'

Fred Bauma, March 15, 2015
Youth activist Fred Bauma is among those to be freed

The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has announced pardons for 24 people whom the opposition regards as political prisoners, Reuters news agency reports.

The opposition had demanded the release of 26 people as a condition for taking part in talks aimed at resolving differences over presidential elections due in November. 

The opposition has accused the government of wanting to delay the poll so that President Joseph Kabila can remain in office, rather than step down as the constitution requires him to do after two elected terms. 

Those who have been pardoned include prominent youth activists Fred Bauma and Yves Mawkambula, who were detained in 2015 on charges of plotting against Mr Kabila, Reuters reports. 

The two men not pardoned are political party leaders accused of sexual assault and real estate fraud respectively, it adds. 

Zambia opposition challenges poll result in court

Main Zambian opposition party United Party for National Development presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema delivers a speech during a last presidential campaign rally on August 10, 2016 in Lusaka
Mr Hichilema says he was robbed of victory

Zambia's main opposition party has launched court action to annul President Edgar Lungu's victory in elections earlier this month. 

Its candidate Hakainde Hichelema told BBC Focus in Africa that that the election was stolen from him, and did not reflect the will of the people. 

His United Party for National Development (UNDP) had written to the parliamentary speaker asking him to act as president until the outcome of the court case.

Zambia's election commission had declared Mr Lungu the winner by 50.35% to 47.67%, and insisted that the poll was free and fair.

Mr Lungu defeated Mr Hichilema in the previous election, last year, by less than 28,000 votes. 

This time, his margin of victory was about 200,000 votes.

 Mr Lungu is due to be sworn in next Tuesday

Bahrain gold medallist 'still a Kenyan by blood'

ruth jebet with a garland of flowers round her neck
Jebet was greeted by Kenyan supporters on her arrival in Eldoret

We've been covering the growing trend of African athletes deciding to represent countries other than their own at the Olympics, often in order to access better training and financial support than they would receive in their home countries. 

Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet is the most high-profile example at Rio 2016. 

Despite her heritage, she ran for Bahrain in the women's 3,000m steeplechase, winning the Gulf nation its first ever Olympic gold medal.

In the past few hours, Jebet has arrived at Eldoret airport in Kenya. She spoke to the BBC's John Nene, who was there to watch her being welcomed by her family and supporters:

I ran for Bahrain but I'm still a Kenyan by blood. That's why I came here directly from Rio."

Her father Joel Murei (pictured below) was there to greet her, with the pair receiving garlands of flowers.

Joel Murei, ruth jebet's father, stands alongside her outside the aiport

Zimbabwe flower protester 'kicked like a dying horse'

Anti-government marches have increased in Zimbabwe in recent weeks as the economic crisis worsens, and protesters signal their opposition to the central bank's plan to introduce bond notes to deal with a cash shortage. 

One of the protesters, Sten Zvorwadza, who is now in hospital after being beaten up by police, told the BBC's Razia Iqbal why he was one of those who took the unusual move of bringing flowers to the protests.

BBC's World Tonight interviews flower protester

'No more blue lights' for Zuma

South African President Jacob Zuma speaks after unveiling on December 16, 2013 a 9-meter bronze statue of South African former president Nelson Mandela on the lawns of the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria where Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first black president in 1994.
Mr Zuma's offices are in Pretoria

The new mayor of South Africa's capital, Pretoria, has said there will be "no more blue lights" for President Jacob Zuma when his motorcade travels through the city, alluding to the issue of police escorts for the leader's visits. 

Solly Msimanga of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) made the comment in his inaugural speech as mayor of Tshwane, which includes Pretoria.

Mr Zuma's African National Congress was defeated in local government elections in Tshwane on 3 August. 

New major of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga (C) of the DA (Democratic Alliance), arrives at a victory rally held at Freedom Park, Pretoria, South Africa, 09 August 2016
Mr Msimanga's party has ended ANC dominance in South Africa's urban areas

The 'godfather' of African football

Joao Havelange, the former Fifa president who has died aged 100, was accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes. 

But the Brazilian could also be considered the godfather of African football. He realised that African votes would get him into power.

And after the election it was time to give back. He increased funding and brought tournaments to Africa.

Under his presidency, the tournament grew to 32 teams, which gave Africa five guaranteed World Cup places. 

And without him and his protege Sepp Blatter, South Africa may never have hosted the World Cup in 2010.

Read the full article by the BBC's Piers Edwards here

Joao Havelange and Nelson Mandela
The Brazilian banned South Africa from Fifa in 1976, a ban that lasted until after Nelson Mandela was released from jail

Rwandan police 'kill terror suspects'

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Police in Rwanda say they have shot dead what they describe as three "terror suspects" in the south-western town of Bugarama. 

They said that before they died the suspects admitted to working with the Somali-based militant Islamist group al-Shabab. 

On Thursday, another alleged terror suspect was killed by police in the capital Kigali. 

Some opposition supporters say he was shot dead in a secret detention centre used by the Rwandan security services. 

The man, from the north of the country, is said to have been missing for more than a year. 

South African 'missing mayoral chain was never made'

Solly Msimanga
Solly Msimanga is now the mayor of Tshwane

A South African civil servant has put to bed rumours that the mayoral chain of Tshwane, the metropolitan area which includes the capital, Pretoria, is missing.

“It is not missing. It was never made,” Tshwane City spokesman Blessing Manale told News24.

He explained that Tshwane was created after apartheid, bringing together Pretoria and other towns which had mayoral chains, but the new metropolitan area did not have one.

“The city took a conscious decision not to create a new chain until issues like the coat of arms has been resolved. The city currently sits without a coat of arms,” he said. 

Solly Msimanga from the opposition Democratic Alliance has now been sworn in as the new mayor - without a chain.

It is the first time the governing African National Congress (ANC) has lost control of the capital’s municipal council in 22 years.

The BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg says the change of guard and mutual suspicion has led to the rumour mill going into overdrive.

Nigeria Olympian 'disappointed and embarrassed' over kit fiasco

Two Nigerian Olympic athletes have told the BBC that they didn't get their Olympic kits until Thursday, three days before the end of the games, by which time they had both finished competing.

It adds to Team Nigeria's Olympic woes, including a dispute over payment for a flight which saw the football team arriving only hours before their first match.

One of the two unnamed athletes said that they were "disappointed and embarrassed" about the issue.

Triple jumper Olu Olamigoke in action
Getty Images
Athletes, including Triple jumper Olu Olamigoke, competed in Rio (L) in the same kit they wore in the World Athletics Championships (R)

Malian talk show host freed after protests

BBC World Service

Ras Bath on the mic

The authorities in Mali have released a popular radio talk show host, whose arrest on Monday led to violent protests in which one person was killed. 

The presenter, known as Ras Bath, often criticises the government in his broadcasts. 

Social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, have been blocked for the past three days. 

The BBC's  Alou Diawara in Mali says the protest were linked to growing frustration with the poor state of the economy and continuing insecurity in the north.

crowd of protesters, some holding placards calling for release of Ras Bath

Pimp my ride, Kampala style

Photographer Edward Echwalu has been trying to decrypt this personalised numberplate (reading 2 FOOLS) on a car he spotted drawing up to a petrol station in the capital Kampala:

"Depending how you want to interpret this picture, it could be either, 'To Fools' or 'Two Fools.' My gut feeling goes with the former," he writes.

View more on instagram

Pretoria mayoral chain 'missing'

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

New major of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga (C) of the DA (Democratic Alliance) together with national leader, Mmusi Maimane (R) arrive at a victory rally held at Freedom Park, Pretoria, South Africa, 09 August 2016
The opposition has nominated Solly Msimanga (C) as the new mayor

Where is Pretoria’s mayoral chain? That's the question on people's lips as South Africa's main opposition party gets ready to take control of the capital for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, ending the dominance of the African National Congress (ANC). 

The ANC says it has been stolen, while others are wondering whether it is a case of sour grapes following its defeat in the 3 August local government. 

The Democratic Alliance's Solly Msimanga is expected to be sworn-in as mayor in a short while, taking over from the ANC's Kgosientso Ramokgopa. 

Guinea seahorses discovered in French customs bust

This handout picture released by the French customs on August 19, 2016, shows 1194 dead seahorses seized by the French police in Chilly-Mazarin. On July 28 and August 8, 2016,

About 2,000 dead seahorses posted from Guinea-Conakry have been seized by customs officers at a post office in a suburb of France's capital Paris, officials say.

The endangered creatures were hidden in airmail packages destined for Vietnam, they added. 

Paris customs official Olivier Gourdon said that seahorses were confiscated "pretty often", quoted by AFP news agency.

They were used in traditional medicines and as as aphrodisiacs in Asian states such as Vietnam, China and Hong Kong.

It is unclear how much the seahorses were worth, but 19,000 of them, seized in 2015 en route from Madagascar to Hong Kong, were valued at about $225,000 (£170,000), AFP reports. 

seahorses on display
Getty Images
Seahorses are an endangered species

Young Somali woman battles Dadaab sexual violence

Sadia Mohamed
Meredith Hutchison/IRC

Twenty-five-year old Somali refugee Sadia Mohamed helps women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual violence and other forms of abuse in the Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, in Kenya.

She says they come to the centre where she works for many different reasons.

The camp is not an easy place. There is a lot of domestic violence, early or forced marriages, girls are denied education, and there is sexual assault.

Many of the women are traumatised and they need to be handled with sensitivity, says Ms Mohamed who works for the International Rescue Committee. 

If she is a survivor of sexual violence, for example, I ask if she is willing then immediately call a doctor. We have a shortage of medical staff so it could be hours until someone arrives. Sometimes I end up staying with a survivor into the evening waiting for a medical exam

I [then] explain everything that is happening, act as a translator and assist as the doctor performs the exam and gives her any treatment to prevent HIV. If she wants her case to be forwarded to the police, I help gather evidence, such as her clothes, and find her new comfortable clothing.”

Afterwards, she counsels the women to reassure them that they are not to blame or alone. 

Around 4pm, I start the walk home. To be honest, it is not an easy time of the day – my head is filled with the stories and experiences of the women I have seen and their suffering. It is heavy.

But she says she is proud of her job and that the women she sees leave “knowing they will be ok”.  

Martin Jol leaves Egypt's Al Ahly over safety fears

Martin Jol on the touchline
Getty Images
Dutch coach Martin Jol won the title with Al Ahly in June

Dutch coach Martin Jol has quit Egypt's Al Ahly after spending just six months at the club over fears for his safety.

The club's fans reacted angrily to their side's failure to reach the semi-finals of the African Champions League.

Jol argued with fans last Friday as his team drew 2-2 with Zambia's Zesco United to end their chances of progressing.

Since then he has also received threats on social media prompting his decision to leave.

Read the full BBC Sport story

Hunting for Botswana diamonds in a massive truck

lerato mbele stands in front of massive mining truck

Africa Business Report presenter Lerato Mbele is in Botswana, filming for the #BBCWorkingLives season:

View more on twitter

Botswana's diamond mines have been enjoying a boom year, after the world's second largest diamond was discovered there, the most prominent in a series of remarkable finds.

Read more: Why have so many huge diamonds been found recently?

Lesedi la Rona diamond held in the hand
The Lesedi la Rona gemstone is the size of a tennis ball

Nigeria's navy 'thwarts attack by pirates'

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The Nigerian navy says it has foiled a pirate attack on a British-flagged cargo ship about 20 nautical miles from the coastal city of Bonny. 

A navy spokesman said it deployed a warship which used its superior firepower to fight off the pirates. 

Special forces then rescued the ship's crew who had locked themselves into a safe room.

There has been an increase in hijackings and other violent activity in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta region since President Muhammadu Buhari took office last year. 

Read: Chasing West Africa's pirates 

'Both sides' in South Sudan conflict recruiting child soldiers

A Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier holds a gun at a containment site outside Juba on April 14, 2016.
Both sides in the conflict are heavily armed

More than 650 children have been recruited into armed groups in South Sudan since the beginning of the year, the UN children's agency Unicef has said. 

Supporters of President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar had both intensified their recruitment drives since July, when a new round of conflict broke out, Unicef added. 

Speaking to the BBC after visiting South Sudan, Unicef deputy executive director Justin Forsyth said: 

You see child soldiers as you drive along the roads, just in uniforms and who have been recently recruited."

Mr Forsyth said there was widespread malnutrition and some areas faced a threat of famine:

We have to be honest, we're doing sticking-plaster jobs. I mean we're trying to save children's lives, save mothers' lives. It's a sticking-plaster.

The only long-term sustainable solution to this problem is if the different parties to the conflict resolve their differences and establish proper governance in South Sudan. And until that happens we'll continue to be on the brink of this very serious situation, which may tip over."

Families leave Saint Joseph's church compound in Juba, after receiving small food ratios by the Red cross and other NGO's on July 12, 2016 in Juba
At least 100,000 people fled their homes after the July violence

See our earlier post for more details

Is it wrong for athletes to switch countries?

Ruth Jebet wins gold for Bahrain
Getty Images
Ruth Jebet was born in Kenya but won gold for Bahrain at Rio

There are reported to be at least 20 athletes born in Kenya representing other nations at the Rio Olympics. 

Ruth Jebet is one of them. Running for Bahrain, her victory in the women's 3,000m steeplechase brought the Gulf nation its first ever Olympic gold medal. 

But should athletes be allowed to freely choose the country they compete for, swayed by better training opportunities or financial support?

This weekend the IAAF - the body that runs world athletics - will discuss whether the rules should be tightened. 

Gavin Smith is a running coach who's worked with Kenyan stars like Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat. So is it bad form for athletes to switch allegiance? Gavin gave his take to the to the BBC's Newsday programme:

Pick a flag, any flag

Mugabe 'cancels' Ghana trip

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe clinches his fist while shouting 'Amandla' (Power in Xhosa and Zulu) during the signing of various memorandum of understanding with South Africa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on April 8, 2015.
Mr Mugabe, 92, is Africa's oldest ruler

Zimbabwe's long-serving President Robert Mugabe has cancelled a visit to Ghana to receive the Millennium Lifetime Achievement award for leading the southern African state to independence in 1980, Ghanaian media is reporting. 

Ghana's President John Mahama was due to give the award to Mr Mugabe at a function in the capital, Accra, tomorrow. 

Mr Mugabe, 92, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence and has vowed to remain in power until he dies, rejecting calls from some of his former comrades to step down. 

No official reason has been given for the cancellation but Ghana's privately owned citifmonline is quoting Zimbabwean diplomats as saying the decision was taken because of "political issues" in Zimbabwe. 

Huge billboards had been put up in parts of Accra to welcome Mr Mugabe, and his speech had been eagerly anticipated, another privately owned site in Ghana, Joy Online, says. 

Mr Mugabe was due to have visited the country from 18 August to 22 August. 

21st December 1979: The leaders of the Patriotic Front, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, Lord Carrington the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Ian Gilmore and Bishop Abel Muzorewa the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, at Lancaster House. The occasion is the signing of the agreement on the independence of Zimbabwe
The independence agreement was signed in London in 1979

Mauritanian anti-slavery activists jailed

BBC World Service

Anti slavery militants hold a banner which translates as 'No to slavery and racism, no to the regime of the general dictator slavery racist Mouhamed Abdel Aziz' demonstrate on August 3, 2016 in Dakar against the imprisonement of fellow activists in Mauritania
Anti-slavery campaigners have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities

Thirteen anti-slavery activists in Mauritania have been sentenced to jail over their involvement in a demonstration in June that turned violent. 

The campaigners, from the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, received sentences of between three and 15 years following accusations of rebellion, armed assembly and membership of an illegal organisation. 

They had been demonstrating against the forced displacement of residents from a slum in the capital, Nouakchott, ahead of an Arab League summit last month. 

The activists say these people, the descendants of black slaves, are still living in conditions akin to bondage. Mauritania officially abolished slavery in 1981. 

South Sudan's government 'recruits child soldiers'

South Sudan's government has recruited boys as soldiers, while it prepares for renewed conflict, the Associated Press news agency quotes a leaked UN document as saying. 

A senior politician led the recruitment of the boys, some as young as 12, from a village, using intimidation, it adds. 

The document indicates that the recruitment of children took place shortly after the UN Security Council approved a resolution about a week ago to send an extra 4,000 troops to South Susan to protect civilians after a new round of fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, last month, AP reports.

The fighting was between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, who has fled the country. 

UN refugee camp
The conflict has left entire communities homeless

Olympic round-up: Javelin and Taekwondo

Belgium's Raheleh Asemani (L) competes against Egypt's Hedaya Wahba during their womens taekwondo bronze medal bout in the -57kg category as part of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 18, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro.
Getty Images

Two more Olympic medals were added to Africa's collection last night:

  • Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba became only her country’s second ever female medallist when she secured bronze in Taekwondo

  • South Africa's Sunette Viljoen got a silver medal for throwing her javelin 64.92m

Caster Semenya reaches 800m final

Caster Semenya of South Africa and Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain compete in the Women's 800m Semifinals on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Getty Images

South Africa's Caster Semenya, one of the most talked about athletes at the games was in action overnight

She cruised into Sunday's final of the Olympic women's 800m in Rio.

She races within a scientific and ethical storm.

Her testosterone levels are far in excess of the vast majority of women.

But she is free to compete without taking medication to suppress her testosterone while the IAAF gathers evidence on whether testosterone actually does improve female performance. 

Read more on Semenya's story on the BBC Sport website

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