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May 12 - 15: from Liberia - Berlin - Nigeria - Sarajevo, Bosnia - Cheonan, South Korea - Beijing

People fleeing chaos in Ivory Coast are flooding refugee centres like this one in nearby Liberia.  Photo/Bonnie Allen

A story of the human spirit under pressure in Liberia.  The tale of a farmer and the want of some seed.

Bosnia on the boil. With a perfect storm of looming ethnic conflicts, we ask if it's a viable post-war country or just a bunch of bickering cantons?

Sampling death: a slice of life from the Coffin Academy, where South Koreans go to ward off suicide. 

From Germany, pressure to rename streets that honor some of the worst offenders from its colonial past.

Blues for the reds: words and music from the journalist who stumbled into stardom playing the blues in China.  And the fury and the music of Nigeria's Seun Kuti, the son of a legend with a rebel pedigree.

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David starts a fire to clear enough land to grow food for his family in Liberia after they fled Ivory Coast. Photo/Bonnie Allen

Ivorian spirit trumps setbacks

Thousands of Ivorians have fled post- election chaos.

Many crossed to border villages in nearby Liberia. 

That's where reporter Bonnie Allen met a farmer whose spirit in the face of tall odds made her break one of her own long-held rules.

Listen now to Bonnie's View from Here.



Students lie in the closed caskets for five minutes during their mock funeral at the Coffin Academy in Cheonan, South Korea. Photo/Lisa Xing

Koreans sample suicide: try it,  you won't like it 

This may startle. you. And there's no easy way to set it up. Suicide has reached alarming proportions in South Korea.

But, it's taken someone who tried it to figure out a way to persuade others not to. It involves rehearsing your own death, in order to make your own life more appealing.

And even big corporations are buying in, as we hear from Lisa Xing at the start of a solemn ceremony.  Hear Lisa's dispatch here


The leader of Bosnia's Serbs Milorad Dodik is among those whose actions threaten to blow apart the post-war federation of states.  Photo/Reuters

Bosnia boiling over

Bosnia is facing its worst crisis since the war, in the words of its governor.

A showdown, some are calling it, to decide who runs the country. There hasn't been a functioning state government in seven months.

And now, a referendum called by the Bosnian Serbs promises to further complicate things.

But Bosnia's latest crisis has many authors, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group, a prominent independent think tank.  Marko Prelec is their senior analyst in Bosnia and he joins me from Sarajevo.

Hear Rick's chat with Marko now

 Since that report aired, Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik announced the decision to call off the referendum -- after meeting EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who arrived on a surprise visit to Bosnia to demonstrate the international community's growing alarm.

President Dodik said:"The concrete conditions have been created for the issues to be resolved and we believe that for the time being a referendum is not necessary. The conclusion of the national parliament represents the political stance of the parliament but in light of this agreement about structural dialogue it will be reconsidered. Based on this offer by the European Union I will ask the national parliament of the Serb Republic to recommend the decision which will correspond to the new situation. I believe I could get  the support of our parliament."(Reuters)


Seun Kuti's new album calls on sub-Sharan Africans to do like their muslim neighbours to the north and rise up.   

Kuti's musical revolution

To the dismay of Seun Kuti, somebody else emerged as President of Nigeria in last month's election.

Kuti tried to run, to incite an uprising, but the authorites denied him the political stage.

But he continues to agitate on the musical stage, where he began at age eight with his late father, Fela Kuti.

Now it's its hard to overstate what a musical legend the father is in Nigeria.

And the son enjoyed a pretty bohemian boyhood growing up on a commune he describes as populated with ex-cons, doctors and dope dealers.

But Seun Kuti hasn't outgrown his presidential ambitions, and he tells us he's still preaching politics on his own celebrated new album of Afrobeat anthems.

Hear Kuti and his music here

Kuti's latest album From Africa With Fury: Rise, features Fela Kuti's lengendary band Egypt 80, and was produced by the equally legendary Brian Eno.


Germany hosted the Berlin Conference of 1884 in which Europe's colonial powers divided Africa among them. The past is coming back to haunt Germans.  Engraving/L'Illustration 1885

Here's what's in a name

Now, a little-told story from the former West Germany, which became so consumed with its Nazi past, it overlooked the crimes of colonialism that helped set the stage for war.

It's set in the streets named after men who committed terrible offenses during the German expansion into Africa.

In fact, it's only been five years since Munich changed the name of the street honoring the man who ordered what's come to be called the first genocide of the 20th century; the massacre of the Herero people of Namibia in 1904.

In Berlin, Dispatches contributor Alexa Dvorson is standing on another street that bears ironic witness to a movement advocating a renaming revolution.  Alexa's dispatch


Alan Paul with members of his Beijing blues band "Woodie Alan". That's Woodie Wu on the right.  Photo/alanpaul.net

When Alan met Woodie

When his wife transferred to China with the Wall Street Journal, Alan Paul had no idea just how much it would change his life too.

He's a journalist like her, writing for Guitar World magazine, and Slam, which covers basketball.

Also plays a little guitar, which led him to Chinese musician Woodie Wu.

Now, put together two musicians named Woodie and Alan, and they pretty quickly come up with a name for China's first and only Sino-American blues band.

And when the band suddenly gets hot, they find themselves touring the country and seeing a side of China most correspondents never do.

It's all in his new book, Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues, And Becoming A Star In Beijing.  Alan Paul joined us from New York.

Alan's chat with Rick here

Want to hear more of his adventures, Here's the full interview with Alan Paul


Coming up next week...

The Collaborator, is a film about a Palestinian informant who betrays his people to spy for the Israelis, only to have them betray him when he wants their help. Filmmakers Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz will be here to talk about ethics and war.

Hear a sample from the film's directors


This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producers Victor Johnston and Tim Lorimer, Senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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