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  1. South Sudan government hits back at comments
  2. Numbers of poached rhinos drops, says SA
  3. Liberia's Weah imposes spending limits
  4. Anti-graft agency holding former Nigerian aide
  5. Grace Mugabe's controversial PHD released
  6. Video 'of militant attack in Niger' published
  7. Effects of sex drugs mistaken for cholera in Zambia
  8. Australia ambassador hits out at Ghana's dirty streets
  9. Zambia dismisses 79 teachers
  10. Private funeral for Hugh Masekela

Live Reporting

By Flora Drury and Dickens Olewe

All times stated are UK

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We'll be back tomorrow

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

A reminder of today's wise words:

The okra plant cannot outgrow the person who planted it."

An Igbo proverb sent by Chukwudi Ndubuka in Umuahia, Nigeria

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

And we leave you with this picture of a woman walking in the busy streets of Nigeria's largest city, Lagos.

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It's all about the scarves at Davos...

Two of Southern Africa's newest leaders have been trying to make an impact at this week's World Economics Forum.

And by all accounts, Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Cyril Ramaphosa, the man now leading South Africa's ruling ANC party, have done themselves proud.

We could not let the week go past without paying tribute to what appears to be a shared penchant for a brightly-coloured scarf:

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Of course, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed they are in their countries' national colours.

Death toll increases in Mali landmine blast

A map showing Mali and Burkina Faso

The number of people killed after a vehicle drove over a landmine in central Mali has increased to 24, local residents have told the news agency AFP.

The army had earlier put the figure at 13, according to Reuters news agency.

But Abdoulaye Cheick, who lost a child in the blast, told AFP: "The final number is 24, including four babies with their mothers. They are no survivors."

The vehicle was travelling from Burkina Faso to a weekly market when tragedy struck on Thursday.

Malian security sources blamed the attack near the town of Boni on "terrorists".

According to local official Mahmoud Traore those killed included Malian and Burkinabe residents.

This is not the first time a civilian bus has hit a mine.

In November, five civilians were killed when the bus they were travelling in hit a mine. No group has said it was responsible, though Islamist and Tuareg insurgents remain active in the region.

Read our earlier post here.

Sixteen die of lassa fever in Nigeria

Ishaq Khalid

BBC Africa, Abuja

Getty Images
The disease is spread by rodents

Health authorities in Nigeria say at least 16 people, including three health workers, have died of Lassa fever in the country.

They say another 60 people are being treated of the disease which is transmitted by infected rodents and also from human to human.

An outbreak began earlier this month and has hit 10 states in the country.

Three southern states of Ebonyi, Ondo and Edo have been most affected.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control says it is working with the World Health Organisation and the US’ Centre for Disease Control to contain the outbreak of the disease.

Authorities are urging people to ensure proper personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.

DR Congo spat with Belgium

Laeila Adjovi

BBC Africa, Dakar

President Kabila
Getty Images
Belgium has accused President Kabila's government of repression

A leak of an official letter has exposed a plan by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to shut down Belgium's diplomatic offices in the country.

The move is seen as an escalation of the diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The official letter was leaked to the local press.

In it, authorities call on the closure of Belgium's cooperation agency as well as the Schengen House, which acts as its consulate.

The move comes amidst an intensified push by opposition parties to get President Joseph Kabila to resign.

Belgium and other European countries have repeatedly criticised Mr Kabila's government of using repression to respond to the protests.

According to the UN, six people were killed and 49 others injured, when security forces fired tear gas and live bullets during a protest called by the Catholic church on Sunday,.

Mr Kabila's term in office ended in 2016, he then reneged on a deal to step down by the end of 2017.

Another deal was agreed that would see him step down by the end of this year, but opposition supporters say that he is planning to hang on to power.

South Sudan dismisses claim leaders' failed people

A South Sudanese child fleeing from recent fighting in Lasu in South Sudan holds a candle after sleeping the night outside after crossing the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, near Aba, on December 23, 2017
A third of South Sudan's population has been displaced since fighting broke out

South Sudan has hit back after the US ambassador to the United Nations accused the country's leader of failing their people.

Government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said Nikki Haley's damning statement was "outrageous".

Ms Haley had told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that "the time has come to acknowledge the hard reality - that the leaders of South Sudan are not just failing their people, they are betraying them".

But Mr Ateny said it was nothing more than an insult to South Sudan's people, who had elected their own leaders.

“I would like to call that statement as outrageous, and intended to aggress and disparage the president of another country,” he told the Eye Radio.

“If it is not an insult to the people of South Sudan, they would not have even elected somebody who is unfit to govern the country.”

But Ms Haley is not the only international actor with concerns about what is happening in South Sudan, as the BBC's Anne Soy reports.

A body set up to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan has urged the UN Security Council to define clear consequences for violations of the deal signed more than two years ago.

A refugee from South Sudan Kiden Alice Hope transports food she received from the World Food Program (WFP) in Palorinya settlement camp for distribution in Moyo district northern Uganda October 26, 2017
The UN has warned parts of the country are in danger of a man-made famine

According to our correspondent, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, former Botswana President Festus Mogae, expressed his frustration with the violation of ceasefire deals shortly after they are signed.

The UK and the US have been pushing for an arms embargo against all parties in the conflict.

Separately, a US-based group – the Enough Project – says the African Union needs to take action against South Sudan’s leaders who are derailing the peace process.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed and a third of the population displaced since fighting broke out four years ago between supporters of President Salva Kiir and the exiled former Vice President Riek Machar.

A peace agreement reached in 2015 has been largely ignored on both sides, and several ceasefire deals broken shortly after they were signed.

The UN has warned that parts of the country are a step away from a man-made famine.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but the world’s youngest nation descended into civil war just two years later.

Zuma might testify in state capture investigation

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

President Jacob Zuma
Getty Images
Mr Zuma had opposed the setting up of a commission to investigate the state capture report

South Africa's justice department has published terms of reference to guide the investigation of a new commission looking into the so-called state capture scandal.

The decision aligns with a recommendation made by the public protector report into allegations of influence-peddling, corruption and fraud in President Jacob Zuma's government.

Mr Zuma is alleged to have been involved in corrupt deals with three brothers, known as the Guptas. Both parties deny any wrongdoing.

The beleaguered president had initially opposed the setting up of the commission and later on, reportedly, wanted the investigations to have a wider mandate to look at crimes committed during the apartheid regime.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, however, disagreed with this push.

He said he did not want this particular case to be “contaminated” by other historical investigations.

He however clarified that all those investigations going back into the apartheid era can still be done but not together with this one.

Given the scope of these terms of reference it goes without saying that sooner or later we will see President Zuma giving evidence from the witness box under oath.

Grammy-winning rapper backs two Ghana schools

Rapper Lil Jon attends the Variety Breakthrough of the Year Awards during the 2014 International CES at The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on January 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images
Lil Jon wanted his money to give children opportunities

A trip to Ghana inspired a Grammy-winning rapper to help build new schools - and potentially change lives, American broadcaster CNN reports.

Lil Jon - known for hits like Turn Down For What - revealed he donated $70,000 (£50,000) towards two schools being built by charity Pencils of Promise last year.

He told CNN the conditions he saw the children learning in - outside, in the heat - were not conducive to learning, and it spurred him into action.

The artist explained:

One of these kids could grow up to be a scientist, a lawyer, an astronaut, the president of their country. I could create an environment where all these things could happen."

Lil Jon won an Emmy for the hit song Yeah in 2005, in which he collaborated with US star Usher.

Ramaphosa: SA 'captured'

South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the government had been captured by "corrupt elements".

He was speaking to BBC's Hardtalk programme.

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He was referring to a long running corruption scandal involving the Guptas, a family who are accused of having undue influence over President Jacob Zuma's government.

The scandal is known as "state capture", but both sides deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Ramaphosa is leading a South African delegation to Davos weeks after he was elected leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Thirteen killed in Mali after vehicle hits mine

Thirteen people travelling from Burkina Faso have died after the vehicle they were in ran over a landmine in central Mali, news agency AFP reports.

Malian security sources blamed the attack near the town of Boni on "terrorists".

According to local official Mahmoud Traore those killed included Malian and Burkinabe residents.

The blast came a day after two Malian customs officers were killed at a market in the village of Toubakoro, which is 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Bamako.

A terrorist was also killed, the agency reported.

The agency notes large areas of Mali are lawless despite attempts to bring them under control, with jihadists carrying out attacks against civilians and security forces.

Teenagers prove autism is no barrier to a modelling career

Three teenagers in Ghana are proving that living with autism is no barrier to a modelling career.

Yacoba Tete-Marmon, Nana Ohenewaa Kuffour and Maame Bema Baffour Awuah have been appointed brand ambassadors for Verna Natural Mineral Water.

Maame is 15 years old and she speaks only a few words.

Her mother - Olivia Awuah - explains how Maame's interest in modelling began:

Yocoba, Nana and Maame are brand ambassadors for mineral water in Ghana

Nigerian 'prophet' arrested for drug trafficking

A Nigerian prophet has been arrested for drug trafficking by Zambian authorities.

Isaac Julius Amata, 42, was arrested after arriving at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, in Lusaka, on a South African Airways flight, Zambia's Drug Enforcement Commission said in a post on Facebook.

The flight had come in from Nigeria.

Mr Amata is alleged to have been carrying 26kg of the drug ephedrine, a stimulant used for short-term energy boosts to enhance athletic performance and endurance, to help people exercise longer, feel more alert, and to dampen appetite..

According to Zambian authorities, he is currently in custody and will appear in court in due course.

Nigeria starts largest yellow fever mass vaccination

Ishaq Khalid

BBC Africa, Abuja

A Congolese health worker prepares to vaccinate a resident during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Kisenso district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo"s capital Kinshasa, July 20, 2016
Millions of people are due to be vaccinated

The largest ever yellow fever vaccination programme has begun in Nigeria.

The programme, run by the Nigerian authorities in conjunction with the World Health Organisation and Unicef, aims to vaccinate 25 million people.

The mass vaccination, part of efforts to eliminate yellow fever epidemics globally by 2026, starts in the states of Zamfara, Kogi and Kwara.

Thousands of health workers are being deployed for the exercise.

Yellow fever is a vaccine preventable acute viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

More than 300 suspected cases have been reported with 45 deaths since the beginning of the current outbreak of the disease in Nigeria last September.

Demos over Afrikaans school

Protesters have gathered outside a school in South Africa's Gauteng province, over an ongoing row over the institution's admission policy.

They say Hoërskool Overvaal (Overvaal high school) has refused to admit students who don't speak Afrikaans.

Campaigners have gone to court to seek orders to compel the school to open up its admission to English-speaking schoolchildren.

Our colleague has been tweeting about the demonstrations.

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Buhari's former aide arrested

Chris Ewokor

BBC Africa, Abuja

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has arrested and is holding a former top official who served in President Muhammadu Buhari's government.

Babachir Lawal's arrest comes 24 hours after former president Olusegun Obasanjo claimed people close to Mr Buhari are immune to his fight against corruption.

Mr Lawal was removed from the position last year following allegations that he had diverted funds intended for the humanitarian crisis in the north-east Nigeria.

But he came into the sights of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over awarding $6m (£4.2m) worth of government contracts to his private company while he was public servant.

Sahara Reporter says the contracts related to grass cutting.

He has denied any wrong doing.

Dr Love chats up DR Congo

Aime Lokulutu runs a sexuality and reproductive health app in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The service helps overcome cultural taboos around sexual health and gives young people the answers they need.

He spoke to the BBC's Newsday programme:

Elephant poaching rises in South Africa

A young male elephant acts defensively at the Pafuri game reserve on July 21, 2010 in Kruger National Park, South Africa

The numbers of elephants killed by poachers in South Africa has jumped by almost a third, according to official figures.

A total of 67 elephants were poached from Kruger National Park, and one in Kwa-Zulu Natal province, last year.

This is a leap from 46 elephants last year.

As a result, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in a statement that "specific risk areas have been identified and strategies to address the threat are being adapted and implemented".

However, there was good news: the number of rhinos killed for their horns dropped from 1,054 in 2016 to 1,028 in 2017.

Ms Molewa said just 504 rhino were poached from Kruger National Park last year, a 24% reduction from the 662 in 2016.

But poachers, she said, had instead turned their attention to five other regions - KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and North West provinces.

Weah begins making changes in Liberia

Liberia"s outgoing president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (L) listens to Liberia"s President-elect George Weah, during Weah"s swearing-in ceremony on January 22, 2018 in Monrovia"s stadium.
George Weah (right) has taken over from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (left)

Just days into his presidency, former footballer George Weah has begun making changes to the way Liberia's government is run.

Mr Weah has ordered all "autonomous agencies and public corporations of the government" to keep their operational expenses below $3,000 (£2,100).

Any which wish to exceed the budget, "must seek approval from the Office of the President”, a statement on the Executive Mansion's website declared.

It also allowed the relevant people in the agencies and corporations to sign off all "legitimate salaries and other benefits".

Mr Weah took office on Monday with a vow to crack down on corruption.

Private funeral for SA's Masekela

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Hugh Masekela
Masekela died on Monday after a long battle against prostate cancer

The family of jazz maestro Hugh Masekela, who died on Monday, has said that his funeral will be held in private.

The announcement was jointly made by the legendary trumpeter's foundation.

A date for the funeral was not given but only family, relatives and close friends will be allowed to attend.

Memorial services will however be held from 27 January, with the main service set to be held the following day at Soweto University in Johannesburg.

The foundation encouraged people to attend the memorial services.

A member of the Masekela Foundation, Ronnie Ntuli, said: “He wanted the foundation to be about African heritage. It wasn’t about Hugh Masekela. It’s always been about the continent of Africa. Dr Masekela was always a people’s person.”

The world renowned trumpeter and an-apartheid activist died in Johannesburg after a long battle against prostate cancer.

Read: Hugh Masekela: South Africa's 'Father of Jazz'

Zambia dismisses teachers for sex with pupils

Kennedy Gondwe


Authorities in Zambia have dismissed 14 teachers for allegedly having sex with minors, reports the state-owned Times of Zambia newspaper.

The teachers, who had been working in the southern province, are among 79 sacked for offenses ranging from fraud and absenteeism to having sex with their pupils.

Provincial education officer Florence Chikalekale said 41 of the fired teachers joined the profession with fake qualifications.

She said the province still had a number of disciplinary cases awaiting hearing.

Mauritius braces for torrential rain

Yasine Mohabuth

BBC News, Mauritius

A man stands with his umbrella in a flooded street
Residential areas in the capital are flooded

Mauritius' meteorological department has issued a torrential rain warning in the country which is still reeling from effects of cyclone Berguitta which recently hit the Indian Ocean island.

Some 112mm of water were registered in the capital, Port Louis, in less than 12 hours, flooding roads.

A house collapsed in Camp-Manna, a suburb in the capital, where three people were rescued.

collapsed house

“We did not sleep the whole night with the thunder and lightning. We were very scared," says Sangeeta, one of the survivors.

Nearby, in Vallee Pitot, residents were ordered to evacuate due to risks of landslides.

Another locality in Tombeau Bay was underwater, and many houses and streets were flooded.

All schools are shut while civil servants have been asked to stay home.

Residents use boats in the streets
Residents use boats in the streets

The last days of Mugabe

The extraordinary 10 days last November which ended with Robert Mugabe stepping down after four decades as president were, at the very least, memorable.

When it comes to holding onto power few can match the record of the Zimbabwean politician. As he famously said: “I'll leave the presidency when God calls me.”

In the end, of course, it was the army, the people and his own party which forced him out - although it didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped.

Listen to BBC's documentary on the events of those action-packed days below:

This content only works in the UK.

Robert Mugabe stepped down after four decades in power, the transition took just ten days

Effects of sex drugs mistaken for cholera in Zambia

Kennedy Gondwe


Three men in Zambia have been mistakenly admitted to a cholera centre after taking herbs which reportedly boasted "sex enhancing" qualities, but whose symptoms resembled the deadly disease.

Zambia has been battling with a cholera epidemic since last year which has so far claimed 70 lives, with more than 3,000 cases reported.

But it appears the trio, based in the eastern part of the country, were not among the epidemic's victims.

Instead, it seems they went on a drinking spree before deciding to take traditional sex enhancers, known locally as mvubwe.

The region's top government official, Chanda Kasolo, told the BBC the three immediately started vomiting and were rushed to a cholera center by concerned well-wishers.

After tests were carried out, the combination of the sex enhancers, the beer and food essentially gave a positive result for food poisoning which was suspected to be cholera-related.

But after further tests and asking them questions, they disclosed that they had taken traditional sex enhancers."

He says the patients are still at the cholera centre and are responding well to treatment.

Israel's plan to force out African migrants

At the start of the month, thousands of African migrants were given a choice by Israel: either take a payment and leave the country, or face arrest.

The BBC has now spoken to two people on either side of the divide.

On one side, a migrant who fled his country. On the other, the Israeli grandson of immigrants, who says his neighbourhood has been ruined.

Listen to them in the video below:

Israel's plan to force out African migrants

You can read more about Israel's proposals here.

Australia ambassador hits out at Ghana's dirty streets

Everyone has walked down a street and been annoyed by people needlessly littering - including, it seems, Australia's ambassador to Ghana.

Andrew Barnes, who has been head of mission since June 2016, took to Twitter to express his outrage over the mess outside the embassy in Accra.

And a quick look at the pictures suggests he had every right to be cross:

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The tweet had a somewhat mixed response from local residents, with some praising Mr Barnes for highlighting the issue, and others wondering why he didn't just clear it up himself.

Ghana's President Akufo-Addo promised to make the city the cleanest on the continent by the end of his term, but sanitation services are struggling to cope, CitiFMOnline reported.

Niger militants release video of US attack

Niger map

The US army has said it is looking to authenticate videos circulating online purporting to show dead American soldiers in the aftermath of last year's attack in Niger, news site The Hill reports.

A statement from its African command (USAFRICOM) said: “We are reviewing the post and determining the veracity of the tweet and the assertions that there is an associated video.”

It adds that the army would not comment further until after investigations are complete.

On 4 October, 12 US soldiers and 30 Nigerien soldiers were ambushed in Tongo Tongo, a village in south-western part of the country, some 240km (150 miles) from the capital, Niamey.

Reports say about 50 Islamist militants armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade ambushed the soldiers.

A researcher posted on Twitter that a 10 minute broadcast was released by an affiliate of the Islamic State group, adding it includes scenes of a wounded soldier and the bodies of US soldiers.

The soldiers were reportedly on a mission to collect information about a high ranking militant in the region.

The US has roughly 800 troops in the region, The Hill reports.

Read: How did US soldiers come under attack in Niger?

Grace Mugabe's PhD thesis published - finally

Grace Mugabe dressed in white in November 2017
Grace Mugabe's PhD has angered many

Almost four years after she submitted it, the PhD thesis of Zimbabwe's former First Lady Grace Mugabe has been released for all to see.

The 226-page document, entitled The Changing Social Structures and Functions of the Family, was published on the University of Zimbabwe's website under Mrs Mugabe's maiden name.

The degree has been controversial ever since it was awarded just months after Mrs Mugabe enrolled at university in 2014.

Doctorates typically require years of full-time research.

Earlier this month, a number of lecturers demanded the doctorate award be investigated, with the Zimbabwe Independent, a privately owned newspaper, quoting the academics' petition as saying they had no knowledge of her 2014 graduation until they heard media reports:

"This was a shock to many members of the department as most members never [saw] or heard about the proposal, progress reports, thesis examiners and outcome of such a study by the candidate."

Check back with Africa Live later for more analysis and reaction to the thesis.

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day:

The okra plant cannot outgrow the person who planted it."

An Igbo proverb sent by Chukwudi Ndubuka in Umuahia, Nigeria

Good morning

Welcome to BBC Africa Live where we will bring you the latest news and trends from around the continent.