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South Sudan: Life for refugees harsh, uncertain


JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - Emmanuel Taban has been a refugee before.  When he was only five years old, Taban and his mother fled South Sudan to avoid their fledgling nation's war of independence against their more powerful neighbor, Sudan.

For 15 years, and most of his childhood, they stayed in a refugee camp in Uganda, returning only after they believed it was safe, after South Sudan became the world's newest country in 2011.

Read more at USA Today

Malian Christians: Christmas a time of worry


BAMAKO, Mali - Noel Somboro is a man known for his quick smile and frequent jokes, but when he's asked about Christmas, a worried, sad look spreads across his face.

That's because in Mali, where Muslims represent about 80% of the population, Somboro, 45, a Christian, is worried about attacks on his community.

Read more at USA Today

African leaders: Pushing peace talks in South Sudan


JUBA, South Sudan - Fighting continued Thursday as African leaders met in an attempt to bring an end to the hostilities that are threatening to erupt into civil war.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday to push peace talks between the president and the rebels after violence broke out this month following an alleged coup attempt led by former vice president Riek Machar.

Read more at USA Today

Mandela memorial: Interpreter debacle


JOHANNESBURG - The South African sign language interpreter accused of using fake signs at Nelson Mandela's memorial service this week said he suffered a schizophrenic episode at the event, but another interpreter says it was not the first time Thamsanqa Jantjie has done bogus interpretations.

Jantjie, who has been called an imposter by sign experts, told Johannesburg's Star newspaper Thursday that he hallucinated and heard voices during the memorial service.

Read more at USA Today

Presidential residence: Revisiting Mandela's Genadendal


GENADENDAL - When slavery formally ended in the Cape Colony in 1838, more than 1,000 slaves fled to Genadendal seeking refuge.

More than 150 years later, President Nelson Mandela honored the hamlet set among lush mountains by renaming the official presidential residence in Cape Town after the small town about two hours east of the city.

Read more at USA Today

Freedom's spirit: Prison did not crush Mandela


CAPE TOWN – When James Ellis who worked in catering on Robben Island finally met Nelson Mandela, the feeling was indescribable, he recalled.

"He brought more calmness over me as a person," said Ellis, who met the prisoner after he was released. "I was in tears after meeting him — I was coming from the apartheid era. You never had the opportunity of meeting people like that."

Read more at USA Today

Cape Town: Leaders pay tribute to Mandela


CAPE TOWN - Some remembered his kindnesses; others reminisced about his charity.

And at a special session of Parliament today, dedicated to paying tribute to the country's first democratically elected president, all praised Nelson Mandela for his sacrifice, wisdom and humility.

Read more at USA Today

Nelson Mandela: Lack of bitterness set him apart


JOHANNESBURG - For all his years of struggle, imprisonment and political leadership, it was Nelson Mandela's capacity to embrace his former oppressors without bitterness in order to achieve a multiracial national reconciliation that stands out as his most enduring legacy.

"A lot of us regard him almost like a second Jesus,'' said Zanele Zikalala, a young black woman raised in the black township of Soweto but who now lives in middle-class suburbia. "I think he taught a lot of people and the world what true reconciliation is – and what forgiveness is.''

Read more at USA Today

Media money: Altering lives in Soweto, South Africa

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SA131208aa003.jpegSOWETO, South Africa — The massive influx of Western media has brought life-changing revenue to some people in Soweto, money used for house renovations, small businesses and even college educations.

The death of former South African president Nelson Mandela has drawn hundreds of news organizations and thousands of journalists to South Africa. Some news organizations have been paying rent for years on small patches of private property in this historic township to ensure access upon Mandela's death.

Read more at USA Today

Cape Town: Pays homage to hero Mandela


CAPE TOWN - On Sunday evening, a mellow crowd gathered in the cooling sun after a hot summer's day to listen to prayers, songs and inspirational speakers.

Chester Williams is one of the area's beloved sports heroes. As the first post-apartheid black player to integrate the formerly all-white Springbok rugby team, Williams was on the team that won the 1995 World Cup, with the support of Mandela, as immortalized in the film Invictus.

Read more at USA Today

Tough road: African National Congress looks ahead without Mandela

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ZAF130225AA002.jpegJOHANNESBURG — Vilikazi Street in Soweto was quiet after the announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela — until a parade of African National Congress (ANC) members dressed colorfully in yellow, green and black marched past their former leader's home singing old struggle songs and praising his life's work.

It's been a common sight since Mandela fell ill late last year. The ANC has made sure its delegates are anywhere there is a gathering in tribute of the former president, busing in members wearing the party colors and singing songs harking back to tougher times.

Read more at USA Today

South Africans: Contemplate life without Mandela


JOHANNESBURG - On a gray, cloudy morning, millions of South Africans learned that native son and national hero Nelson Mandela had died the night before.

And as many continued on the routines of their day, South Africans across the country often paused Friday to mourn their beloved Madiba and to celebrate his remarkable life.

Read more at USA Today

South Africans: Mandela leaves 'an unfinished legacy'


JOHANNESBURG - At Nelson Mandela's old house in the Soweto district here, a crowd swelled to hundreds Friday to pay their respects – singing schoolchildren, men of all races in South Africa's green rugby uniform with their wives and the elderly that lived through apartheid.

They all praised the man that left a better South Africa than the one he was born into 95 years ago, even as thoughts turned to the future.

Read more at USA Today

Nelson Mandela: South Africa mourns his loss


JOHANNESBURG - The nation was in mourning Thursday for Nelson Mandela, a towering figure here for his fight to end apartheid and reconcile his country to democratic rule.

Mandela, 95, died Thursday at his home in Johannesburg. He had been hospitalized four times since last December, most recently earlier this summer when he was readmitted for a lung infection.

Read more at USA Today

39 die: Kenya mall siege, hostages held


KENYA - At least 39 people were killed during a Saturday afternoon shooting rampage at a shopping mall in an upscale district of Nairobi. The attack is believed to be orchestrated by extremists against non-Muslim Kenyans and Westerners in the area.

At least 150 were also injured, says Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who also reported the current death toll. He said he lost some family members in the attack.

Read more at USA Today

Birthday Celebrations: Mandela turns 95


JOHANNESBURG — People from across South Africa celebrated Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday with children singing to him in townships across the country and residents taking part in charity events.

"The mood is good today," said math teacher Khelbeni Mudau, 34, and other staff members at Thuto-Lesedi Secondary School, which handed out soap and perfumes to students from disadvantaged homes.

Read more at USA Today

Mandela Birthday: South Africa celebrates as health improves


JOHANNESBURG - South Africans prepared for celebrations and charity work as a way to commemorate the birthday of former president Nelson Mandela, who turns 95 on Thursday in a hospital where he has been for weeks for a lung infection.

"It is obviously more significant now because of his medical condition," said Noor Nieftagodien, an associate professor from the University of Witwatersrand. "Previously, his birthday embodied our democracy, but it's profoundly more important now."

Read more at USA Today

South Africa: Mandela not in vegetative state


JOHANNESBURG — As former South African president Nelson Mandela remains on life support in a Pretoria hospital, family members continue to fight over burial details.

Mandela, who was hospitalized on June 8, remains in critical but stable condition, according to the office of President Jacob Zuma, who visited the anti-apartheid leader Thursday. The president's office also said doctors denied reports that Mandela, 94, is in a ''vegetative state.''

Read more at USA Today

Obama, Bush: Mark Tanzania U.S. Embassy bombing


DAR ES SALAAM - Waitresses abandoned their customers and workers their offices as people lined the streets of Dar es Salaam in the thousands to see off President Obama on his departure home after a week-long visit to Africa.

"Tanzania has received many guest and presidents from across the world, but I have never seen people moved to this extent," said Anna Limo, 26.

Read more at USA Today

Obama abroad: Calls for Tanzania to bolster fortunes

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TAN130705aa001.jpegDAR ES SALAAM - Welcomed by troupes of traditional dancers, President Obama arrived here Monday to say that he hoped Tanzania would benefit from a regional trade partnership that would improve lives in ways that foreign aid cannot.

"We are looking at a new model that's based not just on aid and assistance, but on trade and partnership," he said, giving as an example ways to help Tanzanians grow their own food and export goods..

Read more at USA Today

Obama pays tribute to Mandela during South Africa trip

SAF130630AA 003JOHANNESBURG — President Obama paid tribute to South Africa's first black president Sunday, saying Nelson Mandela's long struggle against apartheid and for equality "showed us that one man's courage can move the world.''

Obama, the first black U.S. president, visited the wind-swept Robben Island prison off the coast at Cape Town where Mandela was confined for much of his 27 years as a political prisoner. The president later told young South Africans that the critically ill former leader's vision of equality and opportunity should remain theirs as well.

On Robben Island, Obama stood with his wife Michelle and daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, in the cramped cell that was home to Mandela for 18 of the 27 years he was in prison before his release in 1990. They viewed the lime quarry where Mandela worked at hard labor and contracted the lung damage that still afflicts him.

Read more at USA Today

Obama meets Mandela's family in South Africa

SAF130701AA 002PRETORIA, South Africa – President Obama met privately Saturday with relatives of former South African president Nelson Mandela, the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon who has been hospitalized more than three weeks with a lung infection.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama referred to Mandela as "Madiba," which is Mandela's tribal name.

"I expressed my hope that Madiba draws peace and comfort from the time that he is spending with loved ones, and also expressed my heartfelt support for the entire family as they work through this difficult time," Obama said. "I also reaffirmed the profound impact that his legacy has had in building a free South Africa, and in inspiring people around the world — including me.

Read more at USA Today

Anti-Obama: Protests dispersed by South Africa police

SAF130629AA 001JOHANNESBURG — Police fired rubber bullets and a stun grenade into a crowd of hundreds of protesters before President Obama arrived at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday.  The crowd quickly scattered as police officers walked up the street pushing protesters away with shot guns.

"I feel my rights are being infringed," said 24-year-old Bilaal Qibr, who was at the protest. "We can't protest anymore. Personally, I feel like this is an extension of the U.S." Protests have been planned at the university over Obama's visit and the news that he was to receive an honorary doctorate Saturday.

Read more at USA Today

Obama tour: Mandela's illness in South Africa

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA130629AA003.jpegJOHANNESBURG - President Obama arrived in South Africa Friday on the second leg of his week-long trip to Africa and said he'll let Nelson Mandela's family decide whether the nation 's ailing former president is up to a visit from him.

"We'll see what the situation is when we land," Obama said aboard Air Force One as he flew to South Africa from Senegal, the first stop on his trip. "I don't need a photo-op, and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned about Nelson Mandela's condition. I've had the opportunity to meet with him. Michelle and the girls had an opportunity to meet with him. Right now, our main concern is with his well-being, his comfort, and with the family's well-being and comfort.

Read more at USA Today

Obama praises democracy in Africa


DAKAR, Senegal — Posters plastered with President Obama's smiling face and U.S. flags flapping in the warm ocean breeze lined the main routes into Senegal's capital city on Thursday. Obama arrived in Senegal as part of a three-country visit to Africa on Wednesday night and residents in the West African country were on hand Thursday to offer him a warm welcome, with many taking to the streets to watch the president's motorcade drive past. "I'm not sure if it will happen but I hope to see President Obama waving to me as he drives by," said Mamadou Ndiaye, a taxi driver in Dakar. "It is such an honor, knowing that he is coming to my country." But Obama used a news conference at the presidential palace on Thursday morning with Senegal's President Macky Sall to address issues squarely on his domestic agenda. He said that Wednesday's Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage were a victory not just for gays and lesbians but for American democracy. He said different customs and religious beliefs must be respected in different countries, but states and laws should treat everyone equally.

Read more at USA Today

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