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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Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
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Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

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Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
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11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
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Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker