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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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

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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