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  1. Scroll down for this week’s stories

    We'll be back in the new year

    BBC Africa Live

    Natasha Booty

    That's all from BBC Africa Live for 2018. We hope you enjoy the festive break. You can 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 Friday's wise words:

    Quote Message: Once a child eats what he has stayed awake for, he falls asleep." from An Igbo proverb sent by Henry Osita Chukwu in Lagos, Nigeria.
    An Igbo proverb sent by Henry Osita Chukwu in Lagos, Nigeria.

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

    And we leave you this photo of an underwater Father Christmas in Durban, South Africa. It's one of our favourite photos of the past week.

    An underwater diver dressed as Father Christmas swims with fish in an aquarium
  2. Ethiopia region lifts ban on name changes

    Firehiwot Kassa

    BBC Amharic

    A pupil writes in her textbook

    A ban introduced to stop school exam cheats from adopting the same names as their clever classmates has been lifted in Ethiopia's Amhaha region.

    Local education officials had identified some 1,550 students’ names who used the trick in the hope they could lay claim to better grades.

    The ban had applied to students in three different year groups - 8, 10, and 12.

  3. Diamond Platnumz 'reverses tour ban' with cash fine

    Tanzanian music star Diamond Platnumz has agreed to pay a fine of 9m Tanzanian shillings ($3,900; £3,100) in order to lift a national and international performance ban, his manager told the BBC.

    It means planned concerts in Kenya and Comoros will be allowed to go ahead, his manager added.

    Earlier on Friday Diamond Platnumz apologised to Tanzanian authorities for flouting a ban designed to stop him performing a sexually suggestive song.

    The song in question, Mwanza, contains the Swahili word for "horny" and dancers are seen in the music video simulating sex.

  4. Tear gas fired at protesters in Sudan

    Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at demonstrators in the cities of Omdurman and Atbara, where people held a third day of protests over the rising price of bread and fuel.

    Supporters of Sudan's main opposition group, the Umma Party, gathered after Friday prayers and chanted anti-government slogans.

    Demonstrations were also reported in other cities, including in El Obeid, south-west of Khartoum.

    The BBC's Mohanad Hashim reports that Sudan's minister of telecommunications was replaced overnight with a security general, and internet and social media access has been curtailed.

    On Thursday, at least eight people were killed during demonstrations.

    Rights group Amnesty International has condemned the killings and says detained protesters must be freed.

    A bonfire is lit along the street during protests against price rises in Atbara, Nile River state.
    Image caption: Protests have entered their third day
  5. Surgery success for conjoined twins

    BBC Afrique

    Medical staff pictured during the procedure in Senegal

    Surgeons at the Albert Royer children's hospital in Senegal's capital, Dakar, have successfully separated two newborn girls.

    Sophia and Adja were joined by the sternum, sharing a part of the body called the pericardium, which is a sac that surrounds and protects the heart. The two-day-old infants were also joined at the liver.

    "It's an operation requiring great precision, that was carried out for the first time at Albert Royer following weeks of preparation," the hospital said in a statement on Thursday.

  6. DR Congo poll delay: Tshisekedi calls for calm

    Louise Dewast

    Kinshasa, DR Congo

    Felix Tshisekedi
    Image caption: Félix Tshisekedi urged his supporters to be patient

    One of the main opposition presidential candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, has called for calm a day after the electoral commission delayed the poll for a week.

    The vote had been scheduled for Sunday, but is now going to take place on 30 December because of a delay in deploying voting materials to polling sites.

    The electoral commission's announcement came a week after thousands of electronic voting machines were destroyed in a fire in the capital, Kinshasa.

    It said it was still waiting for four million ballot papers to arrive from South Korea, but many in the country remain suspicious about the commission's motives.

    President Joseph Kabila is stepping down after the election, which has already been delayed by two years.

    Mr Tshisekedi told his hundreds of supporters, gathered outside the UDPS party headquarters in Kinshasa, to be patient.

    He said he intended to continue campaigning until 28 December.

    Key presidential hopefuls:

  7. 'My fiancée is key to my recovery'

    Mohamed Fajah Barrie

    BBC Sport, Freetown

    Alhassan Kamara

    Sierra Leone forward Alhassan Kamara, 25, says his fiancée is playing a key role in his recovery from knee surgery in Greece.

    His Greek top flight league club Panetolikos say he will be out of action for up to five months.

    He was injured during last Saturday's 2-1 win at Aris in the league.

    "It's not easy as I'm facing mental, physical and psychological battles but I'm trying to deal with the situation positively," he told BBC Sport.

    "My fiancée is playing a key role in my recovery process by helping me out to overcome these battles.

    "My club too is helping me physically and psychologically by assigning a physiotherapist to me and talking to me as well.

    "My teammates too are supportive. I appreciate them all.

    "This is a difficult period for me because the injury came at a time when I'm doing well with my club."

  8. Cash shortage hits Liberia's Christmas shoppers

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh

    BBC Africa, Monrovia

    The streets of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, are usually heaving with Christmas shoppers at this time of year – crowding around vendors to buy in treats for the festivities.

    But this week hawkers have been standing around for hours without a single customer showing interest. “It is a troubling sign when you have more sellers than buyers,” a honey seller on Carey Street told me.

    The major reason for this is that for more than a month now people have not been able to get hold of cash from their banks – and that’s where the crowds are.

    Someone wanting to withdraw, for example, 25,000 Liberia dollars ($160: £127) is given just 5,000 Liberian dollars ($36) – and that is after waiting days in a queue.

    The cash shortage appears linked to the mystery over the alleged disappearance in March of more than $100m-worth (£76m) of newly printed bank notes intended for the central bank.

    The notes allegedly vanished from containers in Monrovia’s port and airport - and the government ordered an investigation in September – though that is likely to take months, if not years, to complete.

    Liberians hold a banner during a demonstration over the disappearance of newly printed bills, in the capital Monrovia - September 2018
    Image caption: There have been protests about the newly printed money which is alleged to be missing

    Meanwhile, central bank governor Nathaniel Patray has denied the money is missing, and has also said there is no cash shortage.

    He accused the banks of “playing games” as the government injected $25m into the economy in July to shore up the falling value of the Liberian dollar - though how exactly this was done has remained a subject of public debate.

    Most Christmas days will see children playing on the beaches and hanging out at entertainment arcades. But with no money to celebrate, most people are likely to be staying indoors.

    As if pre-empting this, President George Weah, the former footballer who came to office in January, advised people to remain at home to play “gospel songs and Christmas carols”.

    This has done little to soothe the disappointment of the many Liberians who love the traditions of Christmas.

  9. Madagascar captain: 'We're more than a movie'

    Nick Cavell

    BBC Africa Sport

    Madagascar team members celebrate on the pitch

    In October, Madagascar celebrated an unlikely sporting success story, as successive 1-0 victories over Equatorial Guinea sealed their place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

    The squad are now hoping their achievement will bring footballing fame to a nation which is internationally associated with DreamWorks' movie called Madagascar .

    It was a hugely popular animated film from 2005, and if you search for the country's name online, you get a lot more hits for the adventures of Alex the Lion and his friends than you do for sporting success.

    But the turnaround in Madagascar's footballing fortunes is worthy of a film of its own.

    In their previous four qualifying campaigns they had won just one of 16 games, finished bottom of their group twice and failed to even advance from the preliminary rounds on the other two occasions.

    But after stunning successes in their most recent campaign they have qualified for a major tournament for the first time.

  10. Diamond Platnumz sorry for defying 'horny' song ban

    View more on instagram

    One of Africa's biggest music stars, Diamond Platnumz, has offered a formal apology to the Tanzanian authorities over a performance of a sexually suggestive song after it had been banned.

    It resulted in the authorities barring him earlier this week from performing in East African country.

    Diamond Platnumz's hit song Mwanza contains the Swahili word for "horny", and dancers are seen in a video simulating sex.

    The Tanzanian star shared his video statement to social media. In it, he sits next to fellow musician Rayvanny and says:

    Quote Message: With utmost humility, we would like to apologise to our esteemed United Republic of Tanzania, Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports and our National Arts Council and everyone who felt offended by our performance of the song Mwanza at the Wasafi festival.
    Quote Message: We are doing our best to be good role models in this nation, but to be human is to err. We made a mistake in performing a banned song. We promise not to repeat that mistake, we would also urge our fans and fellow artists to be good ambassadors of our Tanzanian culture."
  11. 'Six dead' in DR Congo election plane crash

    AFP news agency reports that six people were killed on Thursday when a plane, hired by the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission, crashed near the airport in the capital, Kinshasa.

    The electoral commission told the BBC that no election materials were destroyed in the crash.

    It says the pilot and crew had safely delivered the cargo to Tshikapa, in the centre of the country, and were on their return journey to Kinshasa when the crash happened.

    All five crew members and one passenger died in the crash, AFP reports.

  12. Crowds await Tshisekedi speech in DR Congo

    Hundreds of people have gathered at the headquarters of one of the opposition parties in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Presidential opposition candidate, Félix Tshisekedi's, is due to give a press conference responding to the news that Sunday's presidential election has been pushed back by a week.

    Our reporter Poly Muzalia sent this photo from the scene:

    Félix Tshisekedi's supporters
  13. Belgium to extradite former Rwanda general

    BBC World Service

    Bernard Ntuyahaga pictured during his 2007 trial
    Image caption: Bernard Ntuyahaga has been refused asylum in Belgium and Denmark

    Belgium is due to extradite a former Rwandan army major Bernard Ntuyahaga to Rwanda.

    He has described efforts to send him back to Rwanda as a death sentence, telling Belgian news site La Libre, "if I go to [Rwanda's capital] Kigali, I'll be a dead man".

    He has already served a 20-year sentence for his part in the deaths of 10 Belgian UN peacekeeping staff in Rwanda in 1994.

    The murders triggered the departure of Belgian peacekeepers from Rwanda - a key development in the events which led up to the genocide, in which around 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

    Ntuyahaga was released from a Belgian jail in June but remained in a refugee centre as he sought asylum in Belgium.

    Denmark, where his family lives, had refused to take him in.

  14. ICC warns against election violence in DR Congo

    A man reacts as teargas fired in Kinshasa, DR Congo - 19 December 2018
    Image caption: Police have fired tear gas in Kinshasa this week, where rallies have been banned by the city authorities

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a stern warning following some reports of election-related violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the long-delayed polls have been postponed yet again.

    The government has accused supporters of an opposition candidate, business tycoon Martin Fayulu, of instigating election violence. Mr Fayulu's campaign has rejected the charge.

    ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in the statement:

    Quote Message: Anyone who incites or participates in mass violence, by ordering, soliciting, encouraging or otherwise contributing to crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution before the court.
    Quote Message: No-one should doubt my determination to investigate such crimes and to prosecute them when conditions as defined by the Rome Statute are met."

    The presidential election had been scheduled for Sunday, but is now due to take place on 30 December.

    The Electoral Commission made the announcement on Thursday, saying a delay in deploying voting materials to polling sites after a fire last week was behind the move.

    Thousands of electronic voting machines were destroyed in the blaze in the capital, Kinshasa.

    Efforts to contain an outbreak of the Ebola virus and recent ethnic violence have also taken their strain.

    It is the latest in a series of delays to frustrate opposition supporters, who suspect that President Joseph Kabila intends to cling on to power.

    BBC reporters say a number of students staged a protest near the University of Kinshasa on Thursday over the delayed polls.

  15. Al-Shabab declares war on IS in Somalia

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    The al-Shabab leadership has broadcast a 42-minute statement accusing Islamic State (IS) group fighters of "spoiling the ongoing jihad in Somalia".

    Through their spokesperson, Ali Mohamud - alias Ali Rage, the group called on its fighters to carry out attacks to wipe out IS fighters.

    Mohamud said the IS fighters were "a deadly disease" and "a cancer".

    IS has been mounting noticeably more attacks in Somalia in recent months, following the group's loss of its "caliphate" heartlands in Syria and Iraq late last year.

    Graph showing number of IS attacks in Somalia over time

    IS militants have gradually moved from northern to southern Somalia in recent months.

  16. 'Bizarre' new Sierra Leone plant identified

    Lebbiea Grandiflora
    Image caption: The aquatic herb was found in a waterfall in the Sewa River

    A "bizarre, pillar-like" plant from Sierra Leone has been identified along with more than 100 new species of plant and fungus worldwide in the last year.

    Prof Aiah Lebbie spotted the unusual specimen clinging to rocks near a waterfall in the Sewa River and sent a sample to Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where it was identified as a new species. The plant, Lebbiea Grandiflora, has been named after him.

    Plants that are new to science are still being described, at a rate of about 2,000 a year.

    Other new species identified by the Royal Botanic Gardens include a insect-eating pitcher plant from the Philippines, exotic orchids and climbers with untapped medicinal powers.

    Many of the plants could have uses for humans, including as food and medicine.

    But the botanists warn that many of their new discoveries are already under threat of extinction.

  17. Wise words

    Friday's African proverb:

    Quote Message: Once a child eats what he has stayed awake for, he falls asleep." from An Igbo proverb sent by Henry Osita Chukwu in Lagos, Nigeria.
    An Igbo proverb sent by Henry Osita Chukwu in Lagos, Nigeria.
    A sleeping boy on the rain in South Arica

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

  18. Good morning

    Welcome back to BBC Africa Live where we'll be keeping you up to date with news and trends from across the continent.

  19. Scroll down for Thursday's stories

    We'll be back on Friday

    BBC Africa Live

    Neil Arun

    That's all from BBC Africa Live for now. You can keep up to date with what's happening across the continent by listening to our Africa Today podcast, or checking the BBC News website.

    A reminder of our wise words:

    Quote Message: Rain water ditches are dug while the rain is still far off." from A Setswana proverb sent by John Walters, Tsienyane, Botswana
    A Setswana proverb sent by John Walters, Tsienyane, Botswana

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

    We leave you with this image from Kinshasa, DR Congo, of a protester being led away by police as a presidential election - running two years behind schedule - is hit by yet another delay.

    Protester in Kinshasa, DR Congo
  20. Egypt star Mo Salah meets partially sighted fan from viral video

    Egypt and Liverpool striker Mo Salah has hosted a partially sighted Liverpool fan who was caught on camera celebrating Salah's recent goal against Napoli. Mike Kearney was filmed in the stadium listening as Salah's goal was described to him. The video went viral.

    View more on twitter