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Summary

  1. Zambian politician Hakainde Hichilema accused of endangering president's life
  2. Anti-Zuma protest marches in South Africa
  3. Nigeria 'disrupts Boko Haram plan to attack foreign embassies'
  4. Celebrated South African woman with rare genetic disease dies
  5. Sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates freed
  6. Egypt's Coptic Christians cut back on Easter celebrations
  7. Nigeria's ex-President Jonathan dismisses oil corruption story
  8. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Wednesday 12 April 2017

Live Reporting

By Dickens Olewe and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Wednesday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

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 today's proverb:

When a fowl perches on a rope both the rope and the fowl feel uneasy. "

A Yoruba proverb sent by Oludimite Austin Moor, Okeluse, Nigeria

Click here to send us your African proverbs

We leave you with a photo of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe who has been sporting a new look today at a funeral for a national hero General James Murozvi:

Robert Mugabe
AFP

Zuma: I'm not attached to being president

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has told his supporters during his birthday celebrations that he is not attached to being president and he could step down tomorrow if that is what the ANC wants.

Calls for Mr Zuma to step down have escalated in recent weeks with some close allies of the ANC telling him to go.

Opposition supporters came together earlier today in the capital, Pretoria, demanding the president's resignation.

Mr Zuma has faced a series of challenges to his authority since becoming president in 2009, but he has fought them all off earning him the nickname the Teflon Don.

View more on twitter

Zuma planned to gift Ontlametse with a car

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has told supporters gathered to celebrate his birthday party that he had planned to gift Ontlametse Phalatse with a car today. 

The 18-year-old young woman has just died and had progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid ageing (see earlier entry).

She became something of a national heroine.

Our reporter has been tweeting Mr Zuma's speech: 

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Semi-naked protest for Zambian opposition leader

The party of Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has been charged with treason, has posted a picture of a lone semi-naked protester on its Twitter account.

View more on twitter

Naked protests are sometimes used to shame people in authority.

Mr Hichilema was arrested after the convoy he was travelling in allegedly did not make way for the president's motorcade.

The police say that this endangered the life of President Edgar Lungu.

Zuma thanks supporters

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma is now addressing supporters at a celebration event to mark his birthday being held in a township in the city of Johannesburg. 

Before his speech a folk singer had sang his praises in a song, part of which asks, what has Zuma done wrong? 

View more on twitter

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani is now tweeting Mr Zuma's remarks:   

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - saint or human?

A New York Times opinion piece by author Dayo Olopade aims to rebalance the saintly image of Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female leader.

She was widely hailed as a reformer when she was elected in 2005 and still has a good reputation overseas. But at home things are not so rosy.

Mr Olopade points out that the failure of Liberia's health system in the face of the Ebola outbreak was an indictment of the president's leadership.

He writes:

Ms Johnson Sirleaf’s early history as a crusader for reform has been tarnished by a decade of rule in which her judgement and integrity have been repeatedly called into question.

But the West’s adulation of Ms Johnson Sirleaf seems to persist without any consideration as to whether she upholds liberal democratic values. Likewise, the gap between Liberians’ perception of Ms. Johnson Sirleaf and her international reputation is rarely given a fair hearing."

Liberia is due to elect a new president in October. Ms Johnson Sirleaf will not be running as she has already served two terms.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia, one of three joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, during the Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony at Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2011
Getty
Ellen Johsnon Sirleaf received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011

Tanzanian 'spies' in Malawi given suspended sentence

Chipiliro Kansilanga

Malawi

Eight Tanzanians have been given four-month suspended sentences for trespassing by a magistrates court in Malawi's northern city of Mzuzu.

The eight men were arrested in December and last week convicted of criminal trespass and carrying out a reconnaissance operation without a permit at Kayerekera uranium mine in Karonga on the shores of Lake Malawi.

The court ordered the ministry of home affairs to immediately facilitate their repatriation.

View more on twitter

Somalia drought-hit region celebrates rain downpour

Abdullahi Abdi

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Residents of Somalia's south-western town of Afgoye town have started celebrations and are gathering on the banks of River Shabelle after its water started streaming again. 

The river has been dry for close to four months now. 

Afgoye is the breadbasket of southern Somalia and has been hit hard by the ongoing drought. 

The river started streaming following rains in Ethiopian highlands, its source.

Abdullahi Hassan Abdi, a government official in the town said the community was celebrating: 

The river was dry for January, February, and March, and part of April. Thanks to God, the Shabelle, which was the source of water for our farms and animals, has today started streaming in Afgoye.

Residents have started gathering around it and celebrating. Afgoye has experienced a severe drought, but thanks to God, people are now celebrating, braving the scorching sun and gathering at the shores of the river.”

The tale of two birthday gatherings in South Africa

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Standing here in this massive tent listening to thousands of people singing President Jacob Zuma's praises as they celebrate his 75th birthday, one would be hard pressed to believe that not far away in Pretoria, thousands others marched calling for him to step down. 

Members of various opposition parties came together to voice their anger with the head of state.

The septuagenarian himself has been on stage dancing like nothing happened that would make him stop and think about his political existence. 

There is no better example to illustrate the wide chasm that has split the governing ANC down the middle. 

Some of those who marched alongside the opposition came from Mr Zuma's own party. 

Take for instance the president of the trades union federation Cosatu, Sdumo Dlamini, whose organisation has publicly called for Mr Zuma to go. 

He has just been at the podium here singing President Zuma's praises. 

While there have been demands from many quarters in South Africa for Mr Zuma to resign, make no mistake, the embattled president still commands considerable support on the ground. 

And that is what those who marched need to contend with as their campaign gains momentum.

Former street kid Tricky talks social justice through comedy

Kenyan comedian MCA Tricky is a former street kid who slept rough in the capital, Nairobi. 

He was forced to the streets after finishing his primary school education because his parents struggled to make ends meet.

The comedian, whose first name is Frank, uses his life experience in his acts which has won him a lot of fans. 

He uses his acts to talk about social justice and to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless. 

Attack on Chad prisoner convoy kills 10

At least 10 people were killed in Chad in an attack against a convoy carrying prisoners, security sources told the BBC.

The attack happened while prison guards were transferring detainees from the capital, Ndjamena, to a maximum security detention facility in the north.

Two guards are among the dead.

The bodies were taken to a mortuary in Ndjamena. Security has been tightened in the area around the mortuary.

The attack is believed to be the result of a feud between two clans, a BBC correspondent in the country says.

It is rare for a security convoy to be targeted by attackers in Chad.

We have confirmed that 10 people were killed but some local news agencies are reporting that 12 died in the attack.

#Tchad : Un convoi de détenus attaqué à l'arme de guerre, 12 morts dont 2 militaires alwihdainfo.com/Tchad-Un-convo…

#Tchad : Un convoi de détenus attaqué à l'arme de guerre, 12 morts dont 2 militaires alwihdainfo.com/Tchad-Un-convo…

UK 'grateful' to Nigeria security services

The British government has thanked Nigeria for the "support it receives in protecting UK diplomatic staff and premises in Nigeria".

The statement comes after Nigeria security services announced it had foiled an attack on the UK and US embassies by Islamist militants Boko Haram. 

It's worth pointing out that the statement is not confirming knowledge of the alleged attack.

Zuma still has the moves at 75

While some South Africans have been using President Jacob Zuma's 75th birthday as an excuse to protest against his leadership others have been marking it.

The president took to the stage at a party in the Johannesburg township of Kliptown and showed that he's still a good dancer.

The BBC's Milton Nkosi captured the president in mid-move.

President Zuma
BBC
Jacob Zuma dancing
BBC

Kliptown was chosen because it's where the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955. The charter is seen as the foundation document for the South African constitution.

'It's not about the skirt, it's about rapists'

Ghanaians have been sharing and discussing a video debunking the idea that if a woman is wearing a short skirt she is consenting to have sex.

"My clothes they are not my consent," says one woman.

And another woman has a simple message for men: "Just don't rape!"

View more on twitter

The film concludes:

  • Don't tell her to dress, tell him not to rape
  • No-one ever avoided rape by wearing a long skirt
  • If you're sexualising me I'm not the problem you are
  • If she's too drunk to consent to sex it's rape 
  • Rape is not about desire it's about power and domination
  • Victims are not to blame

Zambia's opposition leader wanted to 'cause unnecessary anarchy'

Zambia's main opposition UPND party has tweeted the police's statement on the charging of its leader Hakainde Hichilema with treason (see earlier post).

He was charged following an incident where Mr Hichilema's convoy allegedly failed to give way to President Edgar Lungu's motorcade.

Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja said:

I wish to reiterate that the actions of the opposition leader were unreasonable, reckless and criminal... we are not going to watch such kind of behaviour by any person irrespective of their status or political affiliation.

We shall ensure that all those that would want to cause unnecessary anarchy are arrested and prosecuted."

View more on twitter

US 'appreciates work' of Nigeria security services

The US embassy in Abuja has responded to the statement by  Nigeria's spy agency that it thwarted a plot by militant Islamist group Boko Haram to attack its premises.

In a statement it says:

The US Embassy appreciates the work of... Nigerian security forces in fighting terrorism and keeping citizens and residents safe. Nigeria and the US continue to have a strong partnership in countering violent extremism."

More 'unhappy birthday' messages for President Zuma

Our colleagues in South Africa have been posting pictures of today's protest march in the capital, Pretoria.

The demonstration coincides with the president's 75th birthday.

Opposition parties have come together to call for Mr Zuma to step down.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Opposition leader Julius Malema has been addressing the crowd:

View more on twitter

Video of Zambia's motorcade combat

Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been charged with treason for allegedly endangering the life of President Edgar Lungu after a convoy he was travelling in reportedly refused to give way to the presidential motorcade. 

Local media reports that the two leaders were heading to the same traditional ceremony when the confrontation happened. 

In the video, a police car can be seen blaring its sirens in what looks like a bid to clear the road but the convoy of cars stays the course:

Zambia opposition convoy

Nigeria 'disrupts plan to attack foreign embassies'

Nigerian security authorities say they have disrupted a planned attack on the US and UK embassies in the capital, Abuja by members of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, who are allied to the so-called Islamic State group. 

The statement says five suspects were arrested between 25 and 26 March in Benue state and in the capital. 

It adds that a 20-year-old member of the Islamist group had confessed to his involvement in the planned attacks.

There has been no comment yet from the UK and US embassies. 

The militants have carried out a series of bombings and kidnapping that have destabilised the north-east.

Read: Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist group?

Zambia opposition leader 'charged with treason'

Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been formally charged with treason, the country's police chief says.

He was arrested in connection with allegations that a convoy he was travelling in refused to give way to President Edgar Lungu's motorcade.

"It has been established that the opposition leader disobeyed police orders to clear the way, thereby putting the life of the head of state in danger," the Reuters news agency quotes police chief Kakoma Kanganja as saying. 

Hakainde Hichilema
Reuters
Hakainde Hichilema narrowly lost last year's presidential election

Nigerian politicians reveal salary details - but they don't tell the whole story

Some of Nigeria's most prominent politicians have been publishing details of what they earn, local media are reporting.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara has released his recent payslips which show that earns 402,500 naira ($1,300, £1,000) a month, the Premium Times reports.

He was prompted to release the information by Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who has published his own salary details showing that he earns around 470,000 naira ($1,500) a month.

Neither of the figures suggest that the two men could afford a life of luxury.

But there are doubts that this money reveals the full picture of how much these men earn, BBC Abuja editor Naziru Mikailu says.

The full extent of their allowances has not been revealed, and that is where they can earn the most money.

This move has however begun a debate about the value of transparency among the elite, our colleague adds.

Naira notes
Getty Images
How much exactly?

Egypt Coptic Church plans low-key Easter celebrations

Egypt's Coptic Church has announced it will cut back Easter celebrations over security concerns and in solidarity with the victims of the weekend bombings in which 45 worshippers died. 

A church official told AFP that the customary decorations of the churches and meetings to exchange festival greetings have been cancelled. 

The traditional handing out of sweets to children by Coptic Pope Tawadros II before the start of Easter mass on Sunday will also be cancelled.   

So-called Islamic State claimed the Palm Sunday attacks on two churches

INSIDE CHURCH BUILDING
AFP
At least 45 people were killed in two bombings at churches on Palm Sunday

Twenty-eight people died at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, and 17 people died at Saint Mark's church in Alexandria, after a suicide bomber was prevented from entering the building. 

The militants have warned of more attacks. 

The violence comes ahead of Catholic Pope Francis's first visit to Egypt, which a Vatican official said will go ahead as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks. 

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi imposed a three-month state of the emergency after the bombings. 

Woman arrested for crimes against Rwanda returns to the UK

Robert Misigaro

BBC Africa

A Rwandan-British woman who was detained and charged in Rwanda on allegations of undermining Rwandan security has been reunited with her family in the UK.

Violette Uwamahoro who lives in the English northern city of Leeds was arrested two months ago while in Rwanda for her father’s funeral.

Her husband is an active member of RNC, a Rwandan opposition party based in exile.

She was released on bail without condition two weeks ago.

Violette Uwamahoro
Violette Uwamahoro

'They just wanted to kill my husband'

Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is being formally charged at the moment over an incident where his convoy got in the way of the president's motorcade, his lawyer has told BBC Africa Live.

He was picked up late on Monday night after the police raided his house in the capital, Lusaka. He could be charged with treason.

Meanwhile, his wife Mutinta has been speaking about the police raid.

She told Zambian channel Muvi TV that the police "wanted to kill my husband".

"They beat up all the workers and arrested them," she added.

View more on youtube

You can read more of her comments in the Lusaka Times.

Somali forces rescue sailors held by pirates

Somali security forces have rescued at least eight sailors who were kidnapped from their Indian-registered cargo ship and taken ashore by pirates.     

They were freed without fighting, the AFP news agency reports, quoting Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, deputy commander of the maritime force in Somalia's Galmudug state.

The security forces overwhelmingly besieged them and the pirates tried to flee, but three of them were captured," he said.

The Al Kausar was one of three vessels in recent weeks to be hijacked after a five-year lull.

On Sunday sailors from the Indian, Pakistani and Chinese navies freed the crew of a Tuvalu-registered vessel which had been boarded by pirates.

Piracy in the waters off Somalia and Yemen peaked in 2011, with more than 200 attacks.

But it has dropped significantly in recent years, in part because of extensive international military patrols as well as support for local fishing communities.

Is piracy returning to Somalia?

Kenyan comedian’s journey from the street to the screens

Anthony Irungu

BBC Africa, Nairobi

MCA Tricky
BBC
MCA Tricky makes people laugh while also offering hope and inspiration to other street children

Living on the streets is no laughing matter, particularly when you are a child.

Many however live to tell stories of hope and despair in equal measure.

But it's that life on the streets of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, that is behind the rise of a new comedy star, MCA Tricky.

The comedian, whose first name is Frank, is now using stand-up comedy to get his message across.

He began sleeping rough in 2004 just after finishing his primary school education.

Frank discovered he had a gift for making people laugh when he joined an acting troupe in the capital while still living on the streets.

MCA Tricky
BBC
MCA Tricky uses real life experiences on the streets in his comedy acts

He then accompanied a friend for an audition to the popular stand-up comedy show called The Churchill Show.

The judges liked his unique style inspired by his real life experiences of being homeless. He has since become a headliner on the popular show.

He makes people laugh while also offering hope and inspiration to other street children.  

As the world marks International Day for Street Children, he says: 

I decided to represent the street kids, because I want people to respect them. I want them to look at me as their role model.

It’s not about taking them out of the streets physically, but you need to do it mentally. And that is the most difficult thing."

Frank talks of a day when no children will be sleeping and living on the streets of Nairobi. 

A long road lies ahead, but Frank believes that humour is one way to at least to raise awareness of the problem.

Zambian train hits ambulance on rails

Zambians are sharing dramatic pictures of a train that appears to have hit an ambulance stuck on the rails.

It's not clear if anyone was hurt.

View more on twitter

A Zambian DJ has made a joke comparing the incident with the controversy over the convoy of opposition leader Hakiande Hichilema refusing to give way to President Edgar Lungu's motorcade.

Mr Hichilema has been arrested and is facing treason charges.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Wishing South Africa's President Zuma an 'unhappy birthday'

Opponents of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma are holding further demonstrations in the capital, Pretoria, as he marks his 75th birthday. 

The protesters are demanding his resignation and will march to the main government buildings, following rallies last week across the country. 

The BBC reporter at the scene has been tweeting pictures and videos:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Mr Zuma has described his opponents as racists. 

South Africa's constitutional court is considering an opposition call for a planned parliamentary vote of no confidence in the president to be conducted by secret ballot. 

Criticism of him has intensified since he sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last month.

Mr Gordhan is also marking his birthday.

South Africa mourns its 'champion of positivity'

By Mariantonietta Peru

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

South Africans are mourning the passing of Ontlametse Phalatse, an 18-year-old girl who was living with Progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes rapid ageing. 

Last month she celebrated her birthday with President Jacob Zuma. The South African government has led the condolence messages using a picture of that meeting.

View more on twitter

She died yesterday at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa‚ outside Pretoria.

Phalatse was one of two South African girls living with Progeria. 

She described herself as 'the first lady' after she became the first black child in South Africa to be diagnosed with Progeria and was regarded as an inspiring figure and a miracle child after outliving doctors’ predictions by four years.

Local broadcaster Enca calls her South Africa's champion of positivity.

Mr Zuma has conveyed his condolences to the family of  "the special child of South Africa":

A brave young fighter has fallen. May her spirit inspire all others living with disabilities or facing any difficulty, to soldier on as she did and live life to the fullest. We are really proud of her."

Her name is trending on Twitter in South Africa as people pay tribute:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Surge in use of children as suicide bombers, UN says

Martin Patience

BBC News, Nigeria correspondent

A new report from the UN's children's agency, Unicef, is warning of a surge in the use of children as suicide bombers by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

In the first three months of this year, 27 suicide attacks were carried out in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, all countries affected by the conflict. 

Unicef says already this year there has been almost as many attacks by child suicide bombers compared to the whole of 2016.

Most of the bombers were girls targeting military checkpoints or public places. 

Calling the children victims and not perpetrators, Unicef condemned the deception and force used by the militants to get them to carry out such horrific acts. 

View more on twitter

Under intense military pressure, the Islamist insurgents have switched tactics in recent years from holding territory to guerrilla style tactics. 

Unicef says the militants have used more than 100 children as suicide bombers in the past three years. 

The report describes how a 16-year-old girl called Amina was first drugged and then with three other girls sent to bomb a busy market. 

In the end she didn't detonate her own explosives. But Amina lost both her legs after two of the other girls blew themselves up. 

Goodluck Jonathan calls bribe allegations 'fake news'

Goodluck Jonathan
Getty Images
Mr Jonathan says allegations are meant to tarnish his international reputation

Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan has denied allegations that he received  $200m ( £160m) from the $1.3bn payments made by international oil companies for access to a prime oil block off the coast of the Niger Delta, Punch newspaper reports

His media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said in a statement that the allegations are "fake news" meant to "tarnish his rising profile in the international community".

Mr Jonathan said he did not know Dan Etete, a former oil minister and the architect of the controversial deal, who received a huge chunk of the payments from oil giant Shell for the lucrative oil block, which he owned:

The report also wrongly claimed that ‘Jonathan and Etete’ had known each other for years, according to Shell staff, when Jonathan served as a tutor to Etete’s children while he was a minister.”

Shell has denied any wrongdoing.

Nigeria's government passed on $1.1bn of the money paid by Shell and the Italian firm ENI to a company called Malabu, which was controlled by Mr Etete, according to Italian prosecutors.

Documents filed by the Italian prosecutors claim that $466m of that sum was then laundered through bureaux de change and passed on to then President Goodluck Jonathan, and members of his government.

Mr Jonathan's spokesman says the oil deal predated his administration:

Common sense should have shown the purveyors of this slander that the Malabu oil deal far predated the Jonathan regime and it would only make sense for him to be bribed if he had a time machine to go back in time to when the deal was struck.”

Read:Shell admits dealing with money launderer

Controversy in South Africa over Zapiro satirical cartoon

South Africa's best-known satirical cartoonist Zapiro has courted controversy once again with his latest offering:

View more on twitter

The cartoon shows the country - represented by a woman in a South African flag - about to be raped by someone who appears to be a member of the Gupta family with President Jacob Zuma standing by saying "she's all yours boss!".

The picture alludes to the alleged close relationship between Mr Zuma and the wealthy Guptas, who have been accused of exercising influence on the government.

The family has dismissed the allegations.

The use of rape in a satirical cartoon has angered many in South Africa.

Journalist Laila Majiet in a post for Jacaranda FM calls it: 

Sickening, distasteful and brutally insensitive to rape survivors

To use rape as a form of satire, which in its very definition refers to the use of humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticise, tells you it's not okay. You see, there's nothing humorous about rape."

And that response is typical of the torrent of comments on Twitter.

Zapiro - or to use his real name Jonathan Shapiro - has defended the use of the metaphor, which he has used once before in 2008.

He said: "I use rape as metaphor because it shocks", Times Live is reporting.

He added that he was "desperate to find ways to make a strong statement" about the current situation in the country, the website says.

Good morning

Welcome to the BBC Africa Live page where we'll be keeping you up-to-date with news stories on the continent.