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Summary

  1. Ethiopian opposition politician gets six-year sentence over Facebook comments
  2. Zambia cabinet to discuss moving capital
  3. Nigerian civil servants told that praying and fasting is not enough
  4. Bomb explosion in Kenya kills at least two police officers
  5. Africa Day marked across the continent
  6. Ethiopian journalist Getachew Shiferaw found guilty of encouraging terror
  7. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Thursday 25 May 2017

Live Reporting

By Paul Bakibinga and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

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Scroll down for Thursday'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 wise words:

There are many axes for the fallen tree."

An Oromo proverb sent by Fufa Tujuba in Adama, Ethiopia

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

And we leave you with this picture of writer and critic Amy Sall standing in front of a 19th Century portrait Bashi-Bazouk by Jean-Leon Gerome at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art:

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Is a move of Zambia's capital to rural area feasible?

Zambia is considering a proposal to move its capital from Lusaka to a nearly uninhabited district in the middle of the country, Lucky Mulusa the minister for national planning told AFP today.

It is the first official confirmation that a cabinet meeting to discuss the move is scheduled.

Is it a pipe dream?

Zambian journalist Mutuna Chanda says this is not the first time that the idea has been mooted. Some argue that the move maybe necessary as the development of Lusaka's central business district is now restricted by settlements surrounding it.

The question is how could the move be financed? The Zambian economy is struggling given that prices of the country's main export, copper, are still low.

Lusaka, Zambia: city center skyscrapers
iStock
Some say that the growth of the central business district is now restricted

Nigerian lawmakers take big step towards reforming oil industry

Chris Ewokor

BBC Africa, Abuja

Nigeria's Senate has passed a long-awaited bill - the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill - that promises broad reforms to the nation’s oil and gas industry.

The legislation first started being discussed in parliament nearly 10 years ago.

The aim is make the dealings in the oil and gas sector, criticised for high levels of corruption, more transparent and commercially viable.

But the bill still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives.

Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki said “the importance and impact of this bill can never be overstated. Nigerians are ever closer to reaping the full benefits of our nation’s natural resource wealth”.

A worker inspects facilities on an oil drilling platform at the Total oil platform at Amenem
AFP
Nigeria has not benefited from the income that the oil industry generates

Meeting our relatives

Fossils of an ancient human relative, known as homo naledi, found in South Africa, have now gone on display in a purpose built exhibition centre, near Johannesburg.

The 2013 find was considered the largest collection of fossil hominins ever discovered in Africa containing the bones of infants, children and adults.

People have been tweeting about the exhibiiton, including the paleo-anthropolgist behind the excavations:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

But the people behind the exhibition say that there are still many unanswered questions including how had these bones come to rest in a deep underground chamber, and exactly how long ago did these relatives of ours live?

Skull of homo naledi
AFP

Victor Moses: Chelsea wing-back hails manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea wing-back Nigerian Victor Moses has praised manager Antonio Conte for resurrecting his career and giving him the "confidence to enjoy his football".

He was not favoured by former boss Jose Mourinho.

But he played 34 times this season as Chelsea claimed the Premier League title with a record 30 wins.

"I am more focused now than ever. I am enjoying my football again," he said.

This season, the forward was handed a new defensive role as he rejuvenated his Chelsea career and played an integral role in Italian boss Conte's first season in charge.

Victor Moses and his team mates
Getty Images

Read more from BBC Sport Online.

South African opposition leader to go to Zambia in solidarity

South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane is travelling to Zambia in solidarity with his Zambian counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema, who is currently detained and is facing treason charges.

Tomorrow, a magistrate's court in the capital, Lusaka, is due to decide whether the charges should be dropped or whether the case should go to the high court:

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Mr Hichilema's party has welcomed the news:

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He is being held after the convoy he was travelling in got in the way of the presidential motorcade.

The case has led some to ask whether Zambia's reputation as a bastion of democracy is under threat.

Equatorial Guinea becomes Opec's newest member

Equatorial Guinea has been admitted as the 14th member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries - Opec - a source close to the country's oil minister told Reuters news agency today.

Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third-biggest oil producer, said in January it wanted to become an Opec member.

The country will be the sixth African Opec member and this addition could help raise the continent's influence as the body decides on global oil production and pricing, Reuters says.

How are you marking Africa Day?

Some people have been sending us pictures of how Africa Day is for them.

This Liberian, working in Somalia, seems pleased with the holiday to mark the founding of the Organisation of African Unity:

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And back in Liberia, we've had a picture of the Monrovia skyline this morning:

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And this person in South Africa is not feeling so celebratory:

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The medical research centre frozen in time

Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva captures the people maintaining the Amani Hill Research Station - a semi-abandoned research facility in the Tanga region, north-east Tanzania.

Started by the Germans in the late 19th Century as a botanical garden, the facility was converted by the British into a malaria research institution after World War Two.

The experiments have stopped, but many of the facility's former staff remain around the building, maintaining it and stopping the jungle from consuming this piece of colonial history.

Anu Anand asks what kind of a place the facility is today.

Remembering the start of the OAU

People across the continent are marking Africa Day - commemorating the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.

The South African government's Twitter account has shared this picture of President Jacob Zuma surrounded by the choir of the University of Pretoria:

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The UN's representative in Somalia has tweeted pictures of celebrations in Mogadishu:

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While this picture takes us back to the beginning in 1963:

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Music from the old days in Somalia to be re-released soon

Ostinato Records is teasing the audience with a track on Soundcloud from its forthcoming album Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa.

The project came about after a 10,000-cassette archive in Mogadishu of music from the 1970s and 1980s was uncovered evoking a completely different era.

Here you can enjoy Uur Hooyo or Mother's Womb from 1987:

View more on Soundcloud

Five deaths confirmed in Kenya blast

Wanyama wa Chebusiri

BBC Africa

In Kenya five police officers have been killed in a roadside bomb, a day after nine others died in similar attacks in the the country's volatile northern region.

The string of attacks is blamed on the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabab.

The group has vowed to sustain armed raids against Kenya until it withdraws its troops from Somalia.

A senior Kenyan police officer said despite the resurgence of al-Shabab attacks using improvised explosive devices, Kenya was determined to root out the Islamist militants.

Zambia discusses moving capital, minister says

Zambia is considering a proposal to move its capital from Lusaka to a nearly uninhabited marshland district in the centre of the country, national planning and development minister Lucky Mulusa told the AFP news agency today.

"Within the next 10 years, you will not be able to conduct business in Lusaka because of congestion," AFP reports Mr Mulusa as saying.

"The city is over-crowded, and so the sensible thing to do is move the capital out."

Lusaka Skyline
Getty Images

The planning minister says that President Edgar Lungu's cabinet is due to discuss the move to Ngabwe district within the next two weeks.

It is about 120km (75 miles) north of Lusaka and according to AFP is often cut off when roads flood during rains.

However Mr Mulusa says the district is well-positioned in the middle of the country.

Nigeria moved its capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991. And while Tanzania's capital, Dodoma, was designed in the 1980s government business is only slowly moving there from Dar es Salaam.

The debate in Nigeria: Prayer v hard work

Commenters on the BBC Africa Facebook page have been debating the call by Nigeria's Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo that civil servants should work harder.

In a speech to civil servants he said:

No matter how much you pray and fast, our country cannot grow without some of us deciding to do the hard work that makes nations work."

Glenn Akuerter argues that Mr Osinbajo made an important point about the relative merits of working and praying:

This is what us Africans need to understand: that in as much as we exercise our religious beliefs by prayer and fasting, we forget that without employing our hands ideas continue to be a dream."

But Uche Mario has a more cynical take:

Yes we will be doing the hard work while some criminals will sit in the capital, Abuja, looting and sharing every single penny of government money."

And Anaebo Marcellinus Ebuka thinks that civil servants need to be motivated by pay not speeches:

Hard workers, eh? What's their pay like? We know what is needed but we only pontificate about it."

Man with a Bible
MShep2
Is prayer alone enough?

Opec extends oil output cut

The club of the world's main oil producers Opec has decided to extend cuts in output for a further nine months, Reuters news agency reports quoting Opec delegates.

This is in an effort to raise prices, but a decision to curb production five months ago failed to increase prices as they had hoped.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is quoted by Reuters as saying that Opec members Nigeria and Libya would still be excluded from cuts as their output remains curbed by unrest.

How do you fix Africa's air transport?

Flying between the West African capitals of Freetown and Banjul, a journey of 700km (400 miles), should take about an hour.

But on a recent reporting trip, the BBC's Umaru Fofana found out to his dismay that because of the region's poor air connections, it can be quicker and easier to fly via Morocco or Belgium, although that might take a day, or even three.

Umaru decided that the best option was to drive from Freetown to Conakry, before flying to Dakar, Senegal's capital, where he spent the night before getting a connecting flight to Banjul the following day.

In Conakry, he met other travelers, most of them business people who complained about the hassle and expense of travelling around West Africa.

These were the options to resolve Umaru Fofana's travel dilemma:

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Travel options Freetown to Banjul
BBC

That is why this month BBC Africa Debate asks What will fix Africa's air transport? The programme is presented by Nancy Kacungira from Accra, Ghana. You can listen on the BBC World Service at 19:00 GMT on 26 May and afterwards on demand.

Ethiopian politician jailed for six years for Facebook comments

Ethiopian opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye has been sentenced to more than six years after being found guilty of encouraging terrorism for comments he made on Facebook, the Addis Standard reports.

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It adds that the court accepted his arguments for a minimum sentence.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International described the gulity verdict as "a miscarriage of justice".

He was arrested in December 2015 as a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia region was gathering momentum.

The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used "force against the people instead of peaceful discussion".

Ethiopia has been criticised for using anti-terror laws to silence dissent.

Advocating for universal health care

The new director general-elect of the UN's World Health Organization is currently addressing people at the WHO's headquarters in Geneva about the importance of universal health care coverage - a way to pool resources so that everyone can benefit from health services:

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On Tuesday, Mr Tedros was elected to lead the WHO, the first African to do so.

He will take office in July.

Zambia's President Lungu pardons over 400 inmates

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu has pardoned 428 prison inmates to mark Africa Day, according to Zambia's Daily Mail and Lusaka Times newspapers.

Both are quoting a statement from Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo which says Mr Lungu was exercising his "prerogative of mercy" under the constitution.

Article 97 provides for "presidential pardon and substitution of severe forms of punishment imposed on convicted persons".

"We are confident that the pardoned persons have been rehabilitated and are ready for reintegration in society," Minister Kampyongo's statement is reported as saying.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu reacts after participating in a discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa May 4, 2017.
Reuters

Is the African cherry good for pregnancy?

The fact checkers at Africa Check have used Africa Day to take a look at some of the most popular questions that people ask Google about Africa.

'Is Africa a country and who is the president?' appear to be popular queries. No need to spend a lot of time on those, but Africa Check also lists:

  • Does Africa have active volcanoes?
  • How many African countries speak French?
  • How many African countries have female presidents?

And one that surprised us:

  • Is the African cherry good for pregnancy?

Africa Check says: "Several studies suggest the fruit has health benefits but we found no definitive research on its benefits during pregnancy."

Stamp showing the cherry
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The African cherry has been celebrated in a Nigerian stamp

The sex slaves of al-Shabab

When Salama Ali started investigating the disappearance of two younger brothers last year she made an awful discovery - women were being seized and trafficked by the group as sex slaves.

She heard many stories of women who had been taken to Somalia against their will.

The women were both young and old, from Christian and Muslim communities from Kenya's coastal region. They were usually promised high-paid work in another town or abroad, and then kidnapped.

Some of them have managed to return and Salama trained as a counsellor and set up a secret support group for returning women.

She's been speaking to the BBC about her work:

Read more about Salama Ali from BBC News Online.

What does Africa Day mean to you?

Today, 25 May is Africa Day marking the date on which the Africa Union's predecessor, the OAU, was founded. We've been asking on BBC Africa's Facebook page for your reactions

Here are some of your messages.

Kabali Simalindu in Zambia said:

There is no freedom in Africa. We just attained freedom from our colonial masters but not from ourselves."

In a similar vein, Muyumbana M Stefan asks:

What exactly are we free from? Not corruption, not bad governance, not dictatorship, not wars not youth unemployment."

David Kamungu has a more positive thought:

I'm definitely proud to be an African in spite of the many challenges. There's no place like home. My only wish today is that every African child out there gets a decent education, water and food."

And #AfricaDay has also been trending on Twitter:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Getting ready for the 'Rhumbles in Lagos'

Former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield is in Nigeria for a bout against the ex-governor of Lagos Bola Tinubu to be refereed by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.

This sounds like a bizarre dream but this charity match does appear to be happening tonight in Lagos.

Holyfield has been tweeting about how much he is enjoying his time in Nigeria.

Look at my face :) really enjoying my time here. Thank you Lagos! #blessed #holyfieldfoundation #charity twitter.com/lagoswatchdogs…

And here are the pictures to prove it:

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The organisers have dubbed the fight the "Rhumbles in Lagos", and it's being held as part of the festivities to mark the Lagos at 50 celebrations:

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Deaths feared after Kenya bomb explosion

Two police officers have died in Garissa, eastern Kenya, after a vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED), security officials have told the BBC.

Earlier, the Red Cross tweeted there were fiver death, but this figure has not been confirmed.

View more on twitter

This comes a day after at least four police officers were killed after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Mandera county in the north-east.

Ethiopian journalist convicted of incitement to violence

An Ethiopian court has convicted journalist Getachew Shiferaw of encouraging revolt for a message he sent to a man the government considers to be a terrorist.

The newspaper editor was arrested in 2015 and originally charged under the country's terror laws with communicating with an outlawed group, Ginbot 7.

That was later changed to ecouraging revolt.

Mr Getachew's lawyer Ameha Mekonnen, speaking to AFP, says his client denies the charges.

The press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists has called the convictiona "further blow to press freedom in the country".undefined

Amnesty International's regional director Muthoni Wanyeki called the decision "a further slap in the face for justice," reports the AFP news agency.

MrGetachew is expected to be sentenced on 26 May and faces up to 10 years in prison.

'Work harder' Nigerian civil servants told

Nigeria's acting President Yemi Osinbajo has extolled the virtues of hard work, while addressing civil servants.

Mr Osinbajo, who is standing in for President Muhammadu Buhari, said he was speaking as a public servant himself and told them that they had a "special burden" to improve the lives of Nigerians.

With that in mind he implored them to work harder:

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He said that the slowness of the civil service operations can affect the country's economy:

Every time that a public officer is an obstacle to business in any way he attacks the prosperity of our economy and he attacks our future, it means our children cannot find jobs."

Figures out this week confirmed that Nigeria's economy is still in recession after having experienced the fifth successive quarter of negative growth.

President Buhari with Vice-President Osinbajo
Reuters
Vice-President Osinbajo (right) is standing in for President Buhari (left) while he is on sick leave

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