Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Postwar Liberia had struggled back onto its feet in the past decade, after the civil war, and was just catching its collective breath when Ebola landed. One of the lasting effects of Ebola on the country is likely to be its impact on the economy.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has hurt Liberia more than any other country. And within Liberia, no town has been hit harder than the primarily Muslim farming town of Barkedu, in Lofa County in the far north. Despite a population of just 8,000, the small, dusty town accounts for a large percentage of the country's more than 1,000 Ebola deaths to date. The virus has swept away entire families — children, women and men.

Lush and green, Lofa was once the breadbasket of Liberia. But farming has slowed in the northern county. The reason is Ebola.

The virus reportedly first landed in Liberia when an infected person crossed the border into Lofa County from neighboring Guinea in March.

Doctors Without Borders is there to care for the sick.

Sixteen-year-old Shacki Kamara was an accidental victim of Ebola. He didn't die of the virus, but if the virus hadn't struck Liberia, he might still be alive.

Kamara lived in West Point, a shantytown on a peninsula jutting out from the capital city of Monrovia. An Ebola holding center there was attacked on Aug. 16 and patients fled; on Aug. 20, the government imposed a lockdown.

For more than an hour, the Liberian government official took questions from NPR. Despite the tense times in his Ebola-stricken country, Lewis Brown, minister of information, cultural affairs and tourism, was welcoming and animated. His mood was upbeat, although not overly optimistic. He spoke with NPR's team in his office, furnished with black patent leather sofas. He was late for his next meeting because of the long interview but graciously dismissed any concerns we expressed about running late.

Residents in West Point are lined up, waiting impatiently for handouts of beer, parboiled rice and split peas.

The neighborhood around them is bustling with activity. Rows of tiny shacks and little shops are open for business. There's a traffic jam, as bright yellow, three-wheeled rickshaw taxis try to zoom up and down the narrow, main road.

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The campaign is called "Kick Back Ebola." But the posters pack a punch.

Sierra Leone has reported over 700 suspected Ebola cases, more than any other country this year. To help stop the outbreak, health workers have put up Ebola awareness signs all over Sierra Leone's seaside capital of Freetown.

Posters are pasted on hospital walls and outside clinics. Banners flutter along main streets. The goal of the campaign is to keep the reality of Ebola — and how to detect it — very much alive in people's minds.

Doctors and health workers in West Africa are especially vulnerable as they continue to battle to control the spread of Ebola, and dozens of them are dying.

The low for Sierra Leone came with the death of the country's campaigning "Ebola doctor," Dr. Sheik Humar Khan. Khan cared for dozens of patients before testing positive for Ebola and dying of the lethal virus late last month.

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When more than 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamist extremists in Nigeria, the president of Nigeria was accused of a slow response. That was three months ago. Now trust between the families of the girls and their government is all but gone. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

Oh no! Snails are getting a bad name in the U.S.

I'm not talking about the delicate garlic-and-butter escargots that the French favor and savor.

It's giant African land snails, also known as Archachatina marginata, banana rasp snails or a number of other names they go by.

There's growing concern in West Africa about the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed hundreds of people. Health ministers have formed a regional response, but fear and a lack of knowledge about Ebola threaten their efforts.

Liberian musicians are joining the campaign, taking to song to educate people about the Ebola virus. Their tune is called "Ebola in Town," and warns people to beware of close contact with those who fall ill. The song warns, "Don't touch your friend."

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A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has the country on edge. Guineans have never experienced the deadly virus, and are learning quickly how to protect themselves.

At least eight Ebola patients in Guinea have beaten the odds. They have recovered and been sent home. In past outbreaks, the death rate has been as high as 90 percent. In Guinea so far, about 60 percent of the 157 suspected cases have ended in death.

They call them the "Lazarus" cases, after the Biblical character who died but was revived by Jesus. They are survivors of the latest outbreak of Ebola.

Ebola often grabs global headlines as the killer virus that can result in a death rate of up to 90 percent. But in Guinea, the death rate in the current outbreak has been about 60 percent. So there are survivors — to the delight of the overworked doctors, health workers and, of course, the patients who have recovered.

Guinea is on high alert. At the international airport, travelers' temperatures are monitored for signs of infection. In the capital city of Conakry, people rarely shake hands and are advised to regularly wash their hands with bleach-diluted water.

This is what life is like nearly three weeks after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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Inter-religious tensions have been in the headlines in parts of Africa lately. Christian-Muslim clashes have left many dead in places like Nigeria and Central African Republic. But there are also examples of peaceful inter-religious co-existence in Africa, such as Senegal.

At the 1964 trial that convicted Nelson Mandela and his co-accused, and sent them to prison for life, he made a statement to the packed courthouse, which he repeated on his release in 1990, after 27 years in detention.

Amid a solemn atmosphere, the body of Nelson Mandela lay in state Wednesday at an amphitheater in South Africa's capital of Pretoria, the exact spot where he was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994, reconciling a land that had been torn by racial divisions for centuries.

Nigerian authorities have increased security patrols around the northeastern city of Maiduguri after Islamist militants attacked military bases there. The unrest comes after Nigerian troops reportedly had pushed the militants, Boko Haram, out of the the city. This comes as the U.S. undersecretary for Africa is in Nigeria to discuss security concerns, and Nigeria's president is attending a security conference in Europe.

For four years, the Islamist militants of Boko Haram have been waging a deadly campaign in northern and central Nigeria, killing thousands of people. In response, the Nigerian military is cracking down on the group, and the United States last week designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

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In Nigeria an Islamist insurgency has claimed thousands of lives, most of them civilians. The Nigerian president imposed a security crackdown last spring in a bid to end the uprising. Now Amnesty International is out with a report warning that more than 950 people have died in military detention in Nigeria in just the first half of this year. And the attacks continue. NPR's West Africa correspondent, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, reports from, Lagos.

South Africa's commercial capital, Johannesburg, is a mixture of the old Wild West and a complex, modern African hub — at least, that's how crime novelist Jassy Mackenzie describes it. Mackenzie was born across the border, in Zimbabwe, but she moved to Johannesburg — Joburg for short — as a child, and she's a passionate champion of the city.

"I love the energy of Johannesburg," Mackenzie says. "People are open. People communicate. People are friendly in a brash, big-city way, which I love. ... [it's] the New York of South Africa!"

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