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Live Reporting

By Tom Spender and Hugo Williams

All times stated are UK

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  1. 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 our proverb of the day:

    Quote Message: An elder's advice will stay late in the bush but will not pass the night there." from A Wolof proverb sent by Semega Janneh, Banjul, The Gambia, and Sally Jallow, Bristol, UK
    A Wolof proverb sent by Semega Janneh, Banjul, The Gambia, and Sally Jallow, Bristol, UK

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

    And we leave you with this photo of a Kenyan student looking through a "travelling telescope". Watch the full video about astronomer Susan Murabana's project here .

    Students looks through giant telescope alongside
  2. Sufi leader dies in Senegal

    Sammy Maina

    BBC Monitoring

    Image caption: Mr Sy was buried in Tivaouane

    The head of one of Senegal's influential Sufi Muslim orders - who spent his life promoting an open and tolerant interpretation of the religion - has died aged 91, local media reports.

    Serigne Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Sy headed the Tijaniyya, the largest of four Sufi brotherhoods that dominate religious life in Senegal, AFP reports.

    He believed that Islam had to evolve with society as it changed, which is in stark contrast to the austere and intolerant interpretation favoured by Islamist militant groups in the region.

    Mr Sy was buried on Wednesday night in Tivaouane near the capital, Dakar.

    He will be succeeded by Serigne Abdoul Aziz Sy "Al-Amine", formerly the group's spokesman, Walfadjiri reported.

    Sufism is an offshoot of mainstream Islam which focuses on meditation, inner purity and finding a mystical pathway towards God. 

  3. Malawian Airlines all-female flight land in Dar es Salaam

    Malawian Airlines' all-female crew pictured on the runway

    A Malawian Airlines flight exclusively operated and supported by women has landed in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam from Blantyre, as shown in these shots taken by a BBC Swahili colleague Munira Hussein. 

    Women were in charge of every single aspect of the flight operation, from cockpit to cabin, check-in to customer care, and air traffic control to ground handling. 

          Malawian pilot Captain Yolanda Kaunda and her co-pilot in the cockpit
    Image caption: Captain Yolanda Kaunda (L) and co-pilot Mwenifumbo Lusekelo (R)

    The aim of the flight, the first of its kind for the for the national carrier, was to encourage young girls and women who aspire to pursue careers in aviation but are under the impression that it is a male-dominated industry. 

    Malawian Airlines is owned by the Malawi Government (51%) and Ethiopian Airlines (49%).  

          All female crew of Malawian airlines pose for a photograph outside the aircraft on the runway

    Meanwhile in other East Africa aviation news, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was snapped by the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza getting to grips with an Ethiopian Airlines flight simulator on a visit to Addis Ababa:

    Boris Johnson in a cockpit of a flight simulator
  4. Guinea massacre suspect charged

    Alhassan Sillah

    BBC Africa, Conakry

    Image caption: Diakite was extradited from Senegal earlier this month

    State media has announced that formal charges have been brought against Commander Aboubacar Diakite, alias Toumba, over his alleged role in the 2009 massacre of 157 protesters and the rape of women at Conakry’s main football stadium.

    The state broadcaster, quoting a communique from the justice ministry, stated that the former aide-de-camp to ex military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara has been charged with murder, rape, disappearances and torture, among other offences.

    Diakite, who was extradited from neighbouring Senegal on Sunday following seven years on the run, was remanded in custody at the main prison in Conakry after the charges were read out to him.

    One of his lawyers, Yomba Kourouma, criticised the decision to detain his client, arguing that others who have also been indicted over the massacre remain free and are continuing their jobs in top positions in the Alpha Conde regime.

  5. 'Blended pepper assault' suspect granted bail in Accra

    A Lebanese restaurant worker who allegedly punished an employee by rubbing her face into a bowl of freshly blended pepper has been bailed by a magistrate court in the Ghanaian capital Accra, local media report.

    Jihad Chaaban has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, offensive conduct and causing harm. 

    The case has sparked a public outcry, with more than 2,500 people signing a petition to boycott the Marwako fast food chain. 

    The case has been adjourned until 20 March.

  6. Comic book festival opens at Ivory Coast attack town

    The Cocobulles festival of comics and illustration has opened in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, after a 10-year absence.

    Founder Lassane Zohore told RFI that the festival had chosen the seaside town - where 19 people were killed by Islamist militants a year ago - to send a message of defiance.

    Quote Message: We are sending a strong signal against terrorism. Some of our colleagues lost their lives. We have to be able to talk about all subjects. It's like the conquest of freedom. It happens very softly."

    Read more: How I survived the Ivory Coast beach attack

  7. Zuma: 'No crisis' over welfare payments

    Image caption: Zuma defended his colleague Bathabile Dlamini

    South African President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday there was no "crisis" amid uncertainty over whether welfare payments would be made to 17m people next month because of a dispute with the company contracted to handle the payments.

    The welfare system - which includes more than 11m child support grants - is a lifeline for the country's poor.

    Mr Zuma told parliament his government was "doing everything possible" to ensure welfare payments are distributed.

    He also defended Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who has criticised by South Africa's Constitutional Court over the crisis, amid calls for her to be sacked.

    It comes after a 2014 decision that the contract between the government and service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was unlawful.

    The government had until the beginning of April this year to take over responsibility for social service payments or find a new provider - but it has done neither.

    CPS has said the issue must be resolved by the end of today or April's welfare payments may not be made on time.

    Read more: What happens if SA benefits are not paid?

  8. Deadly attack on South Sudan aid convoy

    BBC World Service

          Nyebol Joul Nhial prepares the land for maize cultivation in Ngop in South Sudan"s Unity State on March 10, 2017
    Image caption: Famine has been officially declared in some parts of South Sudan

    Gunmen in South Sudan have attacked an aid convoy in the centre of the country, killing two people. 

    Three others were wounded, including a health officer working for the International Organization for Migration. 

    The aid workers had been treating a cholera outbreak in the town of Yirol, 200km north of the capital, Juba

    The head of the IOM, William Lacy Swing, condemned the attack which he said happened in an area of the country in dire need of assistance.

    Parts of South Sudan have been declared to be in famine after three years of civil war and a severe drought.

    Read more: Emerging from the swamp in South Sudan

  9. SA politician to be investigated over colonialism tweets

          Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille gestures after casting her ballot for the general elections on May 7, 2014 at a polling station in Cape Town.
    Image caption: Helen Zille (R) pictured in 2014, is known for making controversial comments

    South Africa's former main opposition leader Helen Zille will face a disciplinary process from her own Democratic Alliance (DA) party after posting tweets suggesting that the legacy of colonialism was not all negative (see previous entries).

    In an interview with Talk Radio 702, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said:

    Quote Message: It has been referred to a disciplinary process. I have come out as a South African and condemned it. The wording is indefensible."

    On his own Twitter profile, he made his views on the comments from his party's former leader plain, while not addressing calls for her to stand down:

    View more on twitter

    The radical opposition EFF party rejected Ms Zille's apology for her comments and called for her to be removed from her post as leader of Western Cape province, launching a scathing attack on her character:

    Quote Message: It is a fact that many racist white people sit on dinner tables when black people are not there and express their cold-hearted racism; this is what Helen Zille truly is; a cold-hearted racist who believes that colonialism, which was crime against the humanity of black people, is not a bad thing."

    A Western Cape branch of the governing ANC party has also called on the outspoken former opposition leader to stand down over the comments, which have sparked outrage on social media. 

  10. BBC correspondent: My diamond find paid for my university fees

    Umaru Fofana

    BBC Africa, Freetown

    panning for gold

    As a huge diamond is found in Sierra Leone, the BBC's Umaru Fofana recounts his own experience of searching for precious gems.

    Growing up in eastern Sierra Leone, becoming an artisanal miner was the natural thing to do.

    I dug the river beds for gravel and extracted the muddy earth looking for the bounty.

    The diamond deposits were sometimes so close to the surface that it was common for people to pick up tiny gemstones that had been loosened by a heavy downpour. I did that once or twice myself.

    After writing my school-leaving exams I took to full-scale mining to help pay for university.

    There were three of us in our gang, as a group of miners is known. We worked illegally, so we did it in a hurry before security men could catch us.

    One day, as I shook the sieve under the water to wash the mud off the stones, I saw a sparkling object.

    I lifted up the sieve and spotted what we had all been looking for. We then fled.

    My share of the two-carat diamond paid my university fees.

    Read the full story here

  11. State dept chief Tillerson defends proposed aid cuts

    us aid
    Image caption: USAID faces a potential funding cut of 28%

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defended swingeing budget cuts to his own department proposed by President Donald Trump.

    Speaking in Japan, he said the level of state department spending in the past had been "simply not sustainable" and he willingly accepted the "challenge".

    If Congress backs the budget, and that is far from a done deal, the state department and USAID face cuts of 28%.

    Will the budget ever be passed anyway?

    The budget is submitted to Congress as a series of bills - the "annual appropriations bills". In order for each to succeed, it has to get 60 votes in the Senate, where the Republicans have 52 seats to 48 for the Democrats.

    At least eight Democrats would have to vote for the cuts or at least refuse to obstruct it. Given the level of Democratic animosity towards Mr Trump, those possibilities look slim.

    Meanwhile, several Republicans have publicly opposed moves to slash funding for diplomacy and foreign aid.

    Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate subcommittee responsible for the budgets, said last month: "It's dead on arrival - it's not going to happen. It would be a disaster... If you take soft power off the table then you're never going to win the war."

    Read the full story here

  12. These are the world's five largest diamonds

          The Star of Sierra Leone, the world's fourth biggest discovery, was found in 1972
    Image caption: The Star of Sierra Leone, the world's fourth biggest discovery, was found in 1972

    A Christian pastor has discovered one of the world's largest uncut diamonds in Sierra Leone's Kono district.

    The diamond, weighing 709 carats, is now locked up in Sierra Leone's central bank in Freetown. It is one of the 20 largest diamonds ever found.

    Here are the top five:

    1. Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905, weighed 3,107 carats

    2. Lesedi La Rona, found in Botswana in 2015, weighed 1,111 carats

    3. Excelsior Diamond, found in South Africa in 1893, weighed 995 carats

    4. Star of Sierra Leone, found in Sierra Leone in 1972, weighed 969 carats

    5. Incomparable Diamond, found in DR Congo in 1984, weighed 890 carats

    Source: Mathew Nyaungwa, Rough and Polished

    Read the full story here

  13. African FA heads react to Ahmad's election

    The leaders of various African nations' football associations have been reacting to the shock election of a new president for the continent's football governing body CAF.

    Ahmad, until now head of Madagascar's FA, will take over from Issa Hayatou, who has held the post for the past 29 years. 

    Quote Message: I'm happy, elated, it is great. This is the change we were talking about, it is good for African football. from Isha Johansen, president of Sierra Leone's football association
    Isha Johansen, president of Sierra Leone's football association
          Isha Johansen is the only female president of a football association in Africa
    Image caption: Isha Johansen is the only female president of a football association in Africa

    She went on:

    Quote Message: I want people to understand that this was not a campaign against personalities, this was about changing the face and image of the African continent through football - and changing African football for the better.
    Quote Message: I always felt that Ahmad would get the ticket. Celebrations will happen but then he needs to start working, there is a lot to be done but we are all here to support him."
    Musa Bility has led the Liberia FA since 2010
    Image caption: Musa Bility has led the Liberia FA since 2010
    Quote Message: Africa has made a decision, we are moving forward with football and we have chosen change over the last leadership. from Musa Bility, president of the Liberian FA
    Musa Bility, president of the Liberian FA
    Quote Message: Ahmad is crying for all of us. I have been though struggle - I have been suspended. Today I am very proud of the effort and I want to thank all of my colleagues for making this possible.
    Quote Message: We have proved to the world that we are ready for the change that is blowing in football across the world.
    Quote Message: We believed, we are human, we have seen changes in Europe and in Fifa... everywhere in football in the last 18 months there have been changes. We could not allow ourselves to be left behind. We want to be on that train of change."

    Read the full story here

  14. No cut to Aids funding in Trump budget


    US President Donald Trump's draft budget would not cut funding for Aids programmes, documents show.

    The draft budget would "maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment" under PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is the world's largest provider of Aids medication, Reuters reports. 

    The programme has been credited with saving millions of lives, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa - which could be reversed were funding to be cut - and enjoys bipartisan support. 

    The budget would also meet US commitments to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the documents said. 

    If passed by Congress, Mr Trump's proposed 28% budget cut for US diplomacy and foreign aid next year would reduce funding for the UN and climate change.

  15. How internet access is changing school life

    Video content

    Video caption: Investment in computer technology said to be reaping benefits

    Investment in computer technology said to be reaping benefits.

  16. Al-Shabab 'distributing famine aid'

    Tomi Oladipo

    BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent

    Image caption: Al-Shabab has previously attacked aid agencies and stopped aid from getting through

    As aid agencies call for urgent assistance for victims of a drought in Somalia, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab says it has been distributing food aid to those in need. 

    The UN says Somalia is on the brink of famine with 6m people - more than half of the country - requiring aid. 

    Al-Shabab has largely opposed the work of aid agencies in Somalia, even those relating to the ongoing drought. The group accuses these organisations of providing food "full of chemicals that cause diseases".

    On its online and radio platforms, it is now saying that its militants have been providing water, wheat flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil for drought-stricken Somalis.

    It's not clear where al-Shabab gets its food. It claims it buys some produce from local markets but militants are known to illegally tax local communities - even looting villages where residents have put up any resistance.

    The group has criticised the international response to the crisis, claiming the UN agencies are not effective despite their huge funding.

    During the famine of 2011, militants blocked the delivery of relief material and attacked aid workers.

    Al-Shabab is attempting to position itself as a governing authority in the parts of Somalia it controls - enforcing its own judicial, tax and even educational systems. It is actively trying to win over the support of local communities and turn them against the internationally-backed government of Somalia.

    Read more: Who are Somalia's al-Shabab?

  17. Why transgender Africans turned against Chimamanda Adichie

    Miss Sahhara beauty queen
    Image caption: Miss Sahhara says transgender women in Nigeria rely on online communities for support

    A leading African writer has transfixed the internet with her comments on gender - but fellow Nigerians say they feel hurt.

    Transgender women in Africa have benefited from "male privilege" because they grew up as men. With this argument, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie kicked off a vexed discussion, trending everywhere from Facebook to  Teen Vogue .

    But a less noticed discussion has been the pained one among gay and transgender Nigerians. BBC Trending has been speaking to the leading voices.

    It all began last weekend when Adichie, a best-selling Nigerian novelist and outspoken feminist, was asked in an interview with  Channel 4 News  whether a transgender woman was "any less of a real woman."

    She replied: "trans women are trans women."

    Quote Message: I think if you've lived in the world as a man with the privileges the world accords to men, and then switched gender, it's difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are."

    Read the full story here

  18. Why is Ghana's 'supersized' government being criticised?

    Akwasi Sarpong

    BBC Africa

          President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo (C) during Ghana Independence Day celebrations in Accra, Ghana, 06 March 2017.
    Image caption: Nana Akufo-Addo pictured at celebrations for Ghana's 60th independence anniversary this month

    The government in Ghana is on the back foot after President Nana Akufo-Addo nominated 110 ministers and deputies, prompting an outcry from the opposition and others about the size of the new administration.

    The disapproval being expressed by many Ghanaians on social media shows a growing level of public dissent over the move. 

    Voters rejected the previous government of President John Mahama, angry at the poor management of public funds, perceived corruption and unfulfilled hopes over the promise of oil wealth. 

    With the government hit by a decline in revenue due to a sluggish economy, there is little public appetite for spending even more money funding salaries, allowances and perks for those in public office. 

  19. UN appeals for $166m to tackle N Kenya drought


    The UN is asking for $166m (£135m) to address the consequences of drought on communities in northern Kenya.

    Three years of unreliable rains have caused thirst and hunger after destroying livestock and leading to the spread of disease, the UN says.

    The number of severely food insecure Kenyans has doubled to 2.6m in less than a year. 

    More than 357,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers are acutely malnourished, the UN says.

    Conditions are likely to deteriorate further if the next rain season fails as predicted.

    Last month Kenya declared the drought, which has affected as much as half the country, a national disaster.

    Read more: Are Kenya ranch invasions driven by drought or politics?

  20. African football's new boss Ahmad: My election was first step

    New Caf president Ahmad is held aloft
    Image caption: Ahmad is held aloft after being elected Caf president

    The newly elected head of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has been speaking to the BBC after his shock win, defeating incumbent Issa Hayatou after 29 years as president (see previous entries).

    Madagascar FA chief, Ahmad, who will now run African football's governing body, was visibly emotional as he spoke to the BBC's Piers Edwards after the result in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa:

    Quote Message: I can't talk at this time. Only one thing - I thank God, I thanked my team. We worked hard but we won.
    Quote Message: That was the first step. The second step is to develop African football. Some days I thought I would win - today I didn't.

    Read the full BBC Sport story