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  1. Why pop star Floby is called 'Father of Orphans'

    DJ Edu

    This Is Africa presenter, BBC World Service

    Image caption: Floby’s is a remarkable story of rags to riches

    Floby is Burkina Faso’s biggest pop star. He has been recording hits for over a decade, and he has managed to stay on top.

    His most recent album Wend’so dropped last year, and both singles from it - Méditation and Batterie Kouda - have done well.

    Over the years, Floby has picked up quite a few nicknames:

    • “Le Baaba” refers to the fact that he holds a chieftaincy in his village.
    • “Le Papa des Orphelins” - meaning father of the orphans - is perhaps most revealing.

    Floby’s is a remarkable story of rags to riches: he spent six years living destitute on the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, after the urban wing of his family threw him out because he was determined to be a musician.

    He does not forget the many young people who still face the hardship he suffered.

    His nickname when he was on the streets was “Weedo”, which means “from the bush”, and in each album he has done a Weedo song - either recounting parts of his life story or giving inspirational messages to his more unfortunate young fans.

    He told me:

    Quote Message: I can’t help everyone, but I encourage children who have difficult lives to take hope. If I, Floby, could get off the street so can everyone."

    Floby did have one big advantage though. Before moving to Ouagadougou he was brought up by his grandmother in the village. She was a griot, and she taught him to sing and introduced him to the traditional rhythms of his Mossi culture.

    Quote Message: She gave me everything, God rest her soul. Lying in bed at night I often wonder what would have become of me if she hadn’t been there. There was no money for me to go to school, I had no training in anything. How would I have managed to feed my family if I didn’t have music?
    Quote Message: But I didn’t get into music to be a millionaire. I didn’t really know it could even feed me. I did it because I wanted to sing, I wanted to express everything that was in me, and because it was a gift in me given by a dear person in my life.”

    In one way the influence of Floby’s grandmother has grown stronger. Whereas his early songs, like his breakthrough hit Rosine, were in an imported genre - as he puts it - his recent work emphasises the Warba, a traditional Mossi rhythm.

    Quote Message: For me it’s a way of creating a Burkinabé musical identity. I want it to be like Mbalax from Senegal or Zouglou from Ivory Coast
    Quote Message: It’s a dream, but I’m making steps towards it, and other artists are catching on to the idea. One person can’t do it alone.”

    You can hear more from Floby on This is Africa this Saturday on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa.

  2. Video content

    Video caption: Mboma wins BBC African Sports Personality of the Year

    Namibia's Mboma wins BBC African Sports Personality of the Year

  3. BreakingEthiopia frees journalist jailed amid singer riots

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News

    Other prominent opposition figures Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba are expected to be released too.
    Image caption: Eskinder Nega was accused of inciting violence following the killing of a popular musician who championed ethnic Oromo rights

    Prominent Ethiopian journalist and opposition figure Eskinder Nega has been freed after more than 18 months in prison on the day that Ethiopia celebrates Christmas.

    He was jailed in June 2020 following the killing of musician Hachalu Hundessa. Eskinder was one of those accused of inciting the violence that broke out in the capital, Addis Ababa, and the country’s largest state Oromia.

    Other prominent opposition figures such as Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, who were also imprisoned because of the violence, are expected to be released too.

    More than 200 people died in the unrest.

    In his Christmas statement, which was posted on social media, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his government would work to end violence in the country through "peaceful and political means".

    There have been repeated international calls to resolve the brutal civil war in the north and ethnic tensions across the country through dialogue and negotiations.

    Mr Abiy's statement indicates a shift in tone on the part of his administration that has often vowed to crush rebels, in particular those from Tigray.

  4. Burkina Faso villages hit by suspected jihadist raids

    Richard Hamilton

    BBC World Service newsroom

    Thirteen civilians have been killed in Burkina Faso in two separate attacks by suspected Islamist militants.

    Eleven people were killed in a raid on a village by heavily armed men on motorbikes, and two volunteers working with the army's anti-jihadist force were killed in the second incident.

    Both attacks occurred on Wednesday in the country's Centre-North region.

    Burkina Faso has been struggling with jihadist attacks since 2015, when militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began mounting cross-border raids from Mali.

  5. Man charged in Liberia with trying to sell his son

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh

    BBC News, Monrovia

    Liberia dollar notes
    Image caption: The man wanted to raise about 146,000 Liberian dollars ($1,000) to replace a stolen motorbike

    Police in Liberia have arrested a 29-year-old Sierra Leonean man and charged him with attempting to sell his 10-year-old son.

    It was apparently a desperate bid to raise money to replace a stolen motorbike.

    After his arrest, the man told investigating officers in the capital, Monrovia, that he needed around $1,000 (£750) as the bike, which had belonged to his friend, had been stolen from his home.

    He was told the only way to raise this much money quickly was to go to neighbouring Liberia to try and find a buyer for his son.

    Back home people had told him it would be easy to do that kind of deal over the border.

    It was arranged through a middleman in December. During negotiations the boy was apparently referred to as a chicken not a human being to avoid detection.

    Nonetheless the police received a tip-off, and the father was arrested as the buyer was reportedly on their way to collect the boy from a town outside Monrovia.

    According to the Liberian online publication Global News Network, the child is currently in the care of the gender ministry.

    Human trafficking is a major issue in West Africa.

    Children sold into modern slavery are not allowed to contact their families and are often made to work as domestic servants or labourers.

  6. Egypt to demolish 1960s apartment blocks in Cairo

    BBC World Service

    A general view of buildings in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt - 2013
    Image caption: A view of Cairo's Nasr City suburb taken in 2013

    The authorities in Egypt are planning to demolish another area in Cairo to make way for new residential developments.

    The Nasr City district in the east of the Egyptian capital contains apartment blocks built in the 1960s.

    Residents have been asked to leave their homes to allow the project to go ahead.

    They are reported to have been offered alternative housing or financial compensation.

    The plans have triggered anger and concern online - there have been a number of similar development projects as part of what is seen as a government-backed gentrification programme.

    Nasr City is, however, regarded as a relatively upmarket, middle-class area.

  7. UN may halt aid operations in Tigray over shortages

    Peter Mwai

    BBC Reality Check

    A worker carries sacks of food aid in Mekele, the capital of Ethiopia's Tigray region - 19 June 2021
    Image caption: Very little food aid has reached Tigray in the last six months

    The UN has warned that it will have to suspend operations by its aid agencies if no supplies are allowed into Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray soon.

    No humanitarian aid has reached the region since mid-December and a spokesperson for the UN chief says the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

    “Several UN and non-governmental organisations will be forced to cease operations if humanitarian supplies, fuel and cash are not delivered to Tigray very soon,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN's secretary general, told journalists in New York.

    He said aid agencies were short of cash to buy local supplies and pay local staff and were also running out of fuel to transport aid and staff.

    Quote Message: Without fuel we can't move - you can't move food trucks" from Stéphane Dujarric
    Stéphane Dujarric

    Renewed fighting and insecurity have affected the movement of humanitarian supplies along the only available route from Semera, the regional capital of the neighbouring Afar region, to Tigray through Abala.

    The UN estimates that 100 trucks need to be getting into Tigray daily but since mid-July less 12% than of the needed trucks have made it through.

    Read more:

  8. Kenyan police officers killed in ambush near Somalia

    BBC World Service

    Armed police men patrol a stretch of beach near Lamu, Kenya - 2011
    Image caption: Lamu County has suffered frequent attacks from al-Shabab - and security has had to be stepped up

    Four Kenyan police officers have been killed in an ambush in a coastal region bordering Somalia.

    The attack took place in Lamu County, where the Kenyan government deployed security forces and declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew after the murder of seven civilians in a series of raids earlier this week.

    The region has suffered frequent attacks from the al-Shabab Islamist group, often carried out with roadside bombs.

    Al-Shabab fighters have staged numerous raids inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011, as part of an African Union force to oust the jihadists.