Alex Duval Smith

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

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Three Fs take second place to two Olus

Faith, football, and fuel have for once been overshadowed, as Nigeria goes to the polls. Despite well-founded doubts, the people are ready to believe elections may get the country back on its feet

The Gem Trail: Diamonds - From Angolan mine to third finger left hand

Wars are fought over them and fortunes made trading and smuggling them. Alex Duval Smith traces an extraordinary journey

Bloody bad for business

Violent crime, fuelled by unemployment, is raging in South Africa - deterring the very investment which might solve the problem, writes Alex Duval Smith

Street Life: Freetown: Mercenaries, prostitutes and other hotel guests

WHEN THINGS are really bad - when the power station has been bombed, the telephone exchange has been machine-gunned and half the population has gone into exile - there are still hotel guests.

Why our man in Freetown flies the flag for freedom

Alex Duval Smith meets the British diplomat who the Sierra Leoneans call Chief Komrabai Penfold. He believes that the ravaged country deserves far more of our support

This is a nation of husbands who have seen their wives executed and their children's hands chopped off

Alex Duval Smith, one of the few journalists in Sierra Leone since Freetown was invaded, hears the tales of horror from the victims of a senseless war

Obituary: Myles Tierney

MYLES TIERNEY was part of that unique breed - the news agency journalist in Africa - who take all the risks for none of the fame.
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Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary