Name

Alex Duval Smith

Bio
Alex Duval Smith is a freelance foreign correspondent based in South Africa

Chinua Achebe: Novelist and dissident whose work reclaimed Africa's

Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author and dissident who has died at the age of 82, learnt early in life that words can lead to a lot of pain. It happened when he was at secondary school in colonial Nigeria. Turning to a fellow pupil, he asked in his native Igbo language: ''Nyefe M ncha ahu'' [pass me the soap]. For not using English, Achebe's English headmaster gave him a beating he remembered all his life.

Ahmed Ben Bella: Anti-French activist who became the first president

Historians will be grateful that Ahmed Ben Bella, who has died aged 95, survived into the year marking the 50th anniversary of Algeria's independence from France. Had he died any earlier, the country's first president might never have made it into the anti-colonialist pantheon inhabited by more likeable characters like India's Jawaharlal Nehru or Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah.

How Mugabe won over a nation – again

After 32 years in power, Zimbabwe's President is winning new adoration with a familiar formula: taking from white businesses to give to black people. In Harare, Alex Duval Smith reports

Mandela missing as disunity marks ANC's centenary party

The African National Congress stumbled into its second century yesterday with little rejoicing, amid a clampdown on speeches and after international dignitaries stayed away from a chaotic series of commemorative events.

Disunity marks ANC centenary celebrations

The African National Congress stumbled into its second century yesterday with little rejoicing, amid a clampdown on speeches and after international dignitaries stayed away from a chaotic series of commemorative events.

100 not out – but is the ANC ailing?

Against all odds, the party of Mandela has reached an historic milestone. But despite its achievements, many South Africans say it has not done enough to help the poor. Alex Duval Smith reports from Mangaung

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Critics condemn new South African secrecy law

South African MPs yesterday passed a secrecy law that critics say harks back to apartheid legislation, criminalises investigative journalism and could be used to conceal corruption.