Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

She wants to take pictures of happiness.

That's one of the goals that Fati Abubakar set when she started her Instagram feed bitsofborno last year.

Borno is a state in the troubled northeast of Nigeria, where the extremist group Boko Haram began operating. The capital city, Maiduguri, birthplace of the insurgency, is where this 30-year-old nurse lives and works as a project manager for a malnutrition project as well as a documentary photographer.

A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

Wide-eyed Sakina Muhammad, who's 2, sits on her mother, Habiba's lap, on a bed in the ICU. Sakina is stick thin, her body withered and emaciated.

But she's one of the lucky ones — a malnourished child who came to the health facility in time to be saved. Many starving children don't make it.

Malnutrition is at a catastrophic level in northeastern Nigeria, where Sakina lives, says Doctors Without Borders. According to the medical aid group, the number of malnourished people could be as high as half a million. Children are starving — and dying.

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It's World Refugee Day today, and the head of the UN's refugee agency, FiIippo Grandi, has released some startling statistics – starting with the fact that there are 65 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. That's a record number.

And behind every number, there is a story.

It's a familiar story. A young man leaves his family in search of a golden land, a place where he can earn more money to send back home.

In the past, the story has led to happy endings as well as tragedies. That is also the case in the 21st century. Last week, there were reports of 700 migrants who likely perished in three shipwrecks in the Mediterranean while crossing from Libya to Italy.

Nigerian tomatoes are tasty and juicy. But a large basket of toms is now costing an arm and a leg. From about $10.40 three months ago, that price has rocketed 400 percent to a staggering $40, according to local media.

Nigerians got a lift this week. The rescue of former Boko Haram teenage schoolgirl captive, Amina Ali Nkeki, has raised hopes and expectations. It's also put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to do more to secure the freedom of 218 of her schoolmates who are still missing, as well as possibly thousands more captives.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now to some good news from Nigeria. Authorities say one of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram two years ago is free. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been following the story and joins us now from Abuja, Nigeria. Hello, there.

Bourang Ba was a young farmer in Sitacourou — a sleepy village of scattered thatched roof dwellings where cattle chomp on hay in courtyards. Last year, the father of two set out for Europe, leaving behind his son, daughter and young wife, Nialina. Like his two half-brothers who had already migrated to Spain, he hoped to send money home for the family.

Bourang Ba never made it to Europe. He drowned in the Mediterranean en route.

"He wanted to do his bit and provide for his relatives, so he left without telling me," sobs Wassa Ba, Bourang Ba's father.

One evening in November 2014, Aissatou Sanogo's husband came to tell her some startling news.

"Aissatou," he said, "I'm leaving for Europe" — that very night. He earned a modest salary as a bakery deliveryman in Senegal but had dreams of making far more for his family in a European country.

Tributes continue to flood in for celebrated Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibe, who died of complications from diabetes in Bamako on April 14, at 80.

Mali's culture minister, N'Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, says Sidibe was a national treasure and an important part of their cultural heritage, whose loss the entire country is mourning.

"Ca nous fait swinguer" — love that swing, says an aficionado at the Dakar Goree Jazz Festival as the tempo shifts from Senegalese jazz to salsa and blues. Aissatou Niang says she's enchanted and delighted with the performances.

Other festivalgoers concur, smiling. They're attending the second edition of a burgeoning jazzfest in Dakar last month that brought together musicians from Senegal, the U.S. and beyond.

The festival is the brainchild of Amadou Koly Niang, a Senegalese man who fell in love with jazz in his teens.

"We're not afraid of the terrorists," says Salimata Sylla.

The buses have eyes.

They're the "cars rapides" – a fleet of distinctive, hand-painted minibuses that have become a national symbol in Senegal. True to their name, they're fast-moving vehicles. And almost all of them are decorated with a pair of eyes on the front and rear.

One artist who paints the cars says the goal is to humanize them: "It's just like my face, with a nose and a mouth — with an extra pair of eyes at the back."

It's exactly a week since al-Qaida gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on swimmers and diners last Sunday at a popular beachfront weekend getaway in Grand Bassam, the historic former capital of Ivory Coast.

Bassam, as the sleepy, pretty town is known, is a short 25-mile ride from the economic capital and main city, Abidjan. Bassam is much favored by local families and visitors, including children of all ages.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When the military took power in Ghana, imposing a curfew from the early 1980s, theaters in the West African country went dark. By the time elected-civilian government was restored in 1992, many Ghanaians had lost the habit of going out to watch a play.

Now one man is luring his compatriots back to live shows — and away from TV and videos. His name is James Ebo Whyte — "but everyone in Ghana calls me 'Uncle' Ebo Whyte, because of the program I do on radio," he says.

Chad's ex-dictator Hissene Habre stands accused of crimes against humanity, including allegations of sexual slavery, and the testimony over the past few months has been harrowing.

The case is also setting a precedent because it marks the first time the former ruler of one African country, Chad, has been put on trial in another nation, Senegal, in a specially convened court, backed by the African Union.

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Climate change can affect everything from air and ocean temperatures to weather and disease. In Senegal, one man has made it his mission to connect communities with information that might affect their distant future but also their immediate reality.

Mariama Keita grows peanuts the old-fashioned way: using hoes, pitchforks and, when needed, horses as beasts of burden.

She doesn't have a tractor or any mechanized tools.

But the mother of two does have one new weapon in her agricultural arsenal to help keep her farm running: her cellphone.

For the last eight years, Keita has been farming the 10 acres she inherited from her father. The property is in Kaffrine in central Senegal — the country's peanut-growing region.

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British prime minister David Cameron today told Parliament that the U.K. should join the U.S. and France in bombing raids on ISIS and Syria.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's take a step back now to see what details we can get on this breaking - fast-breaking story there in Bomako, Mali. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following the details from London.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're tracking a hostage situation in Mali today. Two gunmen took over an upscale hotel. The Radisson Blu is in the capital, Bamako. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is following this story from London and joins us now. Good morning.

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