Alex Duval Smith

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

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Focus: Carving a brighter future in Mozambique

ISMAEL JOSE carves elephants from the wood of the Mozambican mafourera tree. It is a humble craft but ever since the earth movers rolled on to his ancestral land last year, Mr Jose, 24, has felt like a lottery winner. "I have moved my family from a reed hut to a brick house with glass in the windows and burglar bars,'' he said.

Letter from Johannesburg: Crime shadow over Games

IN A burst of sound and laser light, South Africa launched its bid for football's 2006 World Cup. Well, not officially. The impressive Johannesburg Stadium extravaganza on Friday was the opening ceremony of the seventh All Africa Games - 6,000 athletes from 51 nations gathered for 10 days of competition.

Frontline: Freetown: Curfew time in `a world of tin roofs'

EVERY DAY at 7.30pm, the capital of Sierra Leone becomes frantic. There are dinners to eat and friends to run home - all in the half hour before the road-block sand bags go up and freedom of movement becomes reserved to well-connected prostitutes and a few privileged military who know that night's curfew password.

Trapped in the devil's lair

Alex Duval Smith in Freetown on the savage politics that led to the seizing of the British hostages

Five Britons are seized in Sierra Leone

Alex Duval Smith reports from Freetown as rebels abduct soldiers on a UN mission to rescue child hostages

Return of the rebels

The war in Sierra Leone has claimed 50,000 lives and ruined countless others. So why is the leader whose forces have torn the country apart being returned to power? And why is the British Government backing the deal?

40,000 women fight in bloody war of attrition

FRONTLINE: TSORONA, ERITREA-ETHIOPIA BORDER

Zimbabwe in crisis as Nkomo is laid to rest

THE GOVERNMENT of Zimbabwe used the burial yesterday of Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to deflect attention from the worst crisis facing the country since independence 19 years ago.

Congo peace role for Mandela

THE FORMER South African president, Nelson Mandela, is next week expected to make his first appearance in the unofficial role of international peace-broker at a summit in Zambia aimed at ending the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Successor Mbeki's Communist roots

PRESIDENT NELSON Mandela has been described as the hardest act to follow since Abraham Lincoln. The man chosen by the ANC for the task is Thabo Mbeki, 56, who has the anti-apartheid struggle in his blood and a Sussex University economics degree on his CV.
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there