A Tuareg nomad stands near a 13th century mosque in Timbuktu [Reuters]
A few trips to a military base on the outskirts of the capital, revealed a lot to me about the ethnic and political divide in the west African country of Mali.
The base is the headquarters of a mid ranking officer who paraded on the national stage in a daring and unprecedented way.
Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo was frustrated with an army in disarray, a Tuareg rebellion gaining ground in the north and a corrupt political elite. One night in the base he told his colleagues enough was enough and that something had to be done.
On Wednesday, March 21 at around 9pm, gunshots shattered the quiet night of Bamako - it took people a few hours to realise that a group of disgruntled soldiers had taken control of the presidential palace and TV building. It was a coup.
A group of officers appeared on television explaining the motives behind the coup, and a few days later I met with the coup leader.
1000: We meet the local chief in Bunia who has assured us he can give us access to fighters loyal to Cobra Matata.
1030: We assure him we are not representatives from the International Criminal Court at the Hague and all we want is to meet the soldiers and hear their story.
1130: He finally agrees but insists we travel with someone he knows. He tells us it’s for our safety. This means waiting another hour for another car to arrive so the four men chosen to escort us to Gety village, two hours away, can come along. The place is very close to the Ugandan border.
Thomas Lubanga was found guilty of crimes of conscription and enlisting children [AFP]
Being in Ituri district the day former warlord Thomas Lubanga was handed down his verdict was interesting. The International Criminal Court in The Hague found him guilty of conscripting child soldiers under the age of 15 to fight for Congolese rebel forces during a five-year war that killed tens of thousands of people.
He was handed over to the court in The Hague in 2006 and went on trial in 2009.
This is not a simple open and shut case – there are some who believe he is guilty and there are those who think he is being unfairly targeted.
Uganda has, in the last week, been propelled to the top of the international news agenda, for a brutal rebellion that has not operated in the country for the last five years.
On March 5, American charity Invisible Children posted a video on Youtube, entitled Kony 2012. The 30 minute film, narrated by one of the organisations founders, Jason Russell, campaigns for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the ICC-indicted Ugandan leader of the rebel Lords Resistance Army.
It went viral, and in nine days has attracted over 76 million views, along with a lot of support and also substantial criticism.
Somali families fled from al-Shabaab held towns after the group was reported to have joined ranks with al Qaeda [Reuters]
We are on the maiden flight of Jetlink Express - from Nairobi to Mogadishu. Along for the ride, a few hardened journalists, and mainly diaspora Somalis, returning home, some for the first time in almost 10 years.
Somalia's Transitional Federal Government has a message for the World, Mogadishu is safe and, crucially, open for business.
It is as important point to get across. Somalis living abroad send around a billion dollars home every year.
If they actually start heading home, and staying, well, then that investment could double.
Driving around the capital Mogadishu, there is plenty of activity.
Freshly painted luxury villas are popping up everywhere; one close to airport has a price tag of half a million dollars.
But most are lying empty, landlords have invested in the hope that the Turks with their good intentions, or eventually the United Nations will take their building over.
Picture by GALLO/GETTY
It's so easy to get caught up in the romance of football. Or maybe it's just me?
Every so often a team comes along, and their story just pulls on your heart strings.
Libya is a prime example.
The national football team qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) proper, despite a war going on in the country. They played most of their qualifying matches outside their own borders.
Sadly they didn't progress pass the group stages, but that won't matter. The mere fact they made it here - while teams like Egypt, the defending champions who failed to qualify, and South Africa, who failed to familiarise themselves with the qualification rule book - was enough for people to praise Libya's efforts.
Sign behind protesters reads, "2000: popular jubilation, 2012: popular distress". [AFP]
For more than a year, opposition supporters in some of sub-Saharan Africa's more repressive countries have hoped that the wave of pro-democracy protests will spread south from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
By and large, the wait has been in vain. There is some irony in that the latest candidate mooted for "people power" is Senegal, one of the few African countries with a genuine democratic tradition in the post-independence era.
Senegal has strong institutions, and is the only country in west Africa never to have suffered a military coup.
The current president, Abdoulaye Wade, first come to power in 2000 when he defeated the incumbent in one of the most exciting and transparent African elections of the post-independence era.
But now, to the fury of many, Senegal's constitutional court has ruled that Wade will be allowed to run for a third term in presidential elections due at the end of this month.
Al Masry fans remember those who died [Andy Richardson]
Al Ahly is a football club that has long been famous as a focal point for patriotism and political discussion.
Right now it is a meeting point for grief.
Families of the dead gather for shared comfort at the team's Cairo social club. Former and current players offer what support they can. Hundreds line up to sign a book of condolence. The future is something this club are struggling to contemplate. Remembering the fans who didn't return home from that fateful game in Al Masry is their only focus for now.
In Al Masry's hometown of Port Said, pitches stand empty. All local leagues have been suspended as a mark of respect.
Here the local supporters talk of being unfairly vilifiied, that the disaster was the consequence of a police plot. Some tell us they are now afraid to drive out of the city. Anyone with a Port Said number plate on their car is liable to be attacked, they say.
Libya meet Equatorial Guinea in the opening match at the Africa Cup of Nations
It was a scene that must come close to defining irony - Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang introducing himself to the Libyan players at the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations with a big smile.
Since the departure of Muammar Gaddafi, Obiang has taken the prize of being the longest serving leader in Africa. His country is effectively a one-party state and human rights abuses are well documented. Sound familiar?
The Libyan team is a group of players who talk optimistically about the new values they hope their country can represent.
But, in Equatorial Guinea, the people are often too frightened to even mention politics.
Last year alone a state radio broadcaster was fired on air just for mentioning Libya. He foolishly tried to evade the official news blackout on pro-democracy protests.
A recent conversation with a taxi driver is indicative.
Picture by GALLO/GETTY
A quick show of hands, if you will. Who, like me, is not a fan of the vuvuzela?
You know? That giant horn which featured over-abundantly in the 2010 football World Cup in my country, South Africa? The one that is making another appearance right now at the Africa Cup of Nations. And I have an interest in this – I’ll be going there in a couple of weeks.
I must admit, I sang the vuvuzela's praises in the lead-up to the first World Cup on African soil. I believed the vuvuzela would give the biggest football event on the planet a uniquely African flavour.
That was until I attended two World Cup matches featuring the South American giants, Argentina and Brazil respectively, and got it in the ear from all sides.
I thought the blowers were sounding it in my ears on purpose. They weren't being blown into the air. They were aimed a little lower - at my head.
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