News President Hollande - a frustratingly minimalist domestic reformer but a bold, global statesman

The French President has been criticised for his interventions in Mali and CAR but insists it is not old-fashioned paternalism but a mission to save lives

Pro-Gaddafi nomads hit towns in Mali

A new Tuareg rebel group, which includes nomads who fought for the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, launched attacks yesterday in several towns in Mali.

Pictures from home: Bamako, Mali 1948-1963, is a weighty new coffee-table book from Steidl that collects previously unpublished portraits from the archives of Seydou Keïta - whose stylised studio shots documented life in his hometown in the colony of French Sudan, then a bustling transport route to Dakar - with some of his most celebrated work. £86; steidlville.com

Jerome Taylor: Largely unnoticed, violent Islamist groups have been looking across the Sahara

Boko Haram's goals are still inherently local, but there are fears that more internationalist groups may seek to link up

Andre Ayew (right) is hoping is be named African Player of the Year

Ayew hopes to copy his father and win top African award

Ghana winger Andre "Dede" Ayew could cement his family's status as Africa's foremost soccer dynasty if he emulates his father by becoming the continent's Footballer of the Year today. Ayew is one of three candidates for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) 2011 award to be announced in Accra, when he goes up against Seydou Keita, of Mali, and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Touré for the accolade.

Trail of the unexpected: West Africa

The masons of the Niger Delta city of Djenné are uniquely talented, says Jane Labous

Oliver Duggan: Africa answers her critics

Ravaged by leaders unanimously opting for autocratic rule, looted and fractured by base sectarian warfare and economically stifled by unyielding climate change and abusive agriculture mechanisation.

Fatuma Noor: Who’s to blame for the drought in East Africa?

The faces of hunger and famine have become part of perennial shame as drought hits the East African region once again. I have to say, this did not come as a surprise – the writing has been on the wall as early as last year August.

Video: 'Yes, Africa can' - Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama makes an emotional speech in front of young women leaders in Soweto.

Taking on centuries of tradition with the West Africa harp

The kora, a 21-stringed harp, is one of West Africa’s – and Mali’s especially – finest cultural exports.

Video: US seeks 'endangered' status for lions

Conservation groups say thousands of African lion parts are being imported to the US every year and something needs to be done.

West's billions in subsidy shut out African cotton growers

Western governments are rigging the market against poor cotton growers in Africa by pouring billions of pounds of taxpayers' money into farms in the United States and Europe, according to a new report today.

Album: Alex Wilson, Mali Latino (Alex Wilson Records)

Crossing Afro-Cuban and west African styles has become a familiar format but pianist Wilson's project with Mali's Madou Sidiki Diabaté (brother to Toumani) on kora and multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Fofana leaves over-respectful worthiness behind in favour of joyful grooves.

Images released of terrorist hostages in Niger

A videotape released on a jihadist forum has shown the first images of a group of hostages, including five French citizens, since they were seized two weeks ago in Niger by an al-Qa'ida offshoot and taken into the desert.

Mauritanian troops kill 12 al-Qa'ida members in clash

Mauritanian military forces killed 12 members of al-Qa'ida's North African wing and suffered two casualties in fighting in the desert border zone flanking Mali, a Mauritanian security source said today.

Lobi Traore: Guitarist who fused blues and rock with his native Malian music

A songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Lobi Traoré was best known for his distinctive, almost psychedelic guitar style. His music was a gritty but never overwrought fusion of rock and blues with his own Bambara folklore roots and earned him a strong cult following at home in Mali. He came to be known abroad during the last two decades through a series of solo and collaborative albums, as well as numerous tours. Word about his legendary residencies at Bamako night spots such as Bozo bar and Ma Kele Kele filtered out via reports by visiting musical cognoscenti.

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