Africa: Top 5 stories of the week

After weeks of ill health, Nelson Mandela is reported to have 'fully recovered'

Story highlights

  • France sends troops into former colony Mali to target Islamist militants
  • French hostage and soldier killed in botched rescue attempt in Somalia
  • Nelson Mandela is reported to have 'fully recovered' from recent health problems

From the recovery of an ailing iconic leader, to an international military intervention in a nation described as the next Afghanistan, the big Africa stories of the week will echo in the continent and beyond.

Mali conflict escalates

International leaders responded to an uprising of Islamist militants in northern Mali, hoping to inject stability in a country once hailed as a model of African democracy.

Militants seized a town near a government-held area last week, raising the stakes and urgency for international intervention.

In return, France sent troops to its former colony to help the government battle the advancing rebels. French troops dropped bombs and fired rockets from the air on the hundreds of armed fighters charging closer to the capital.

The international community, including African leaders, have debated for months over how and when to send troops there.

French militant operations in Africa
French militant operations in Africa


    French militant operations in Africa


French militant operations in Africa 01:54
France intervenes in Mali conflict
France intervenes in Mali conflict


    France intervenes in Mali conflict


France intervenes in Mali conflict 03:32
Strategies to rid Mali of extremists
Strategies to rid Mali of extremists


    Strategies to rid Mali of extremists


Strategies to rid Mali of extremists 03:15

The offensive, which started Friday, has already resulted in "many deaths," a military spokesman said, including Malian soldiers, insurgents and a French pilot killed in a helicopter raid.

The Islamists seized the northern area the size of France after a coup in March undermined stability and plunged the nation into chaos.

France's botched rescue in Somalia

France said a botched rescue of its intelligence commando in Somalia ended with the deaths of the hostage, a soldier and militants.

But the Islamist kidnappers, who seized the hostage nearly four years ago, refuted the French defense ministry's account.

Al-Shabaab militants said the captive is alive and in their custody at a different location.

It's unclear how the raid in the dead of the night went wrong.

Hey, big ballers: Nigerians flock to London to shop

While London's high-end stores are no strangers to foreigners, a surprising new contender is emerging as a big spender in the international market.


Economic growth in the former British colony has averaged 7.4% annually over the past decade, creating a wealthier Nigerian elite with a large spending power.

About 142,000 Nigerians visited Britain in 2011, spending an average $172 per day, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics.

As a result, some British retailers are tailoring their offerings to the growing Nigerian customer base.

But economists warn that the robust economic growth has not reduced poverty in the country, with about two thirds of the population living on less than $1 per day.

Mandela fully recovered

After spending 19 days in hospital, Nelson Mandela is fully recovered from surgery and a lung infection.

His hospital stay was the longest in recent memory, prompting fears that the frail, beloved statesman was in grave condition.

The anti-apartheid icon spent Christmas in hospital after treatment for lung infection and gallstones.

Mandela, 94, is aware of rampant rumors that he is close to death, and wants them to stop, relatives say.

Outrage against lawmakers' perks in Kenya

A hefty retirement bonus, approved by lawmakers for lawmakers, sparked an outrage in Kenya.

Parliamentarians voted to give themselves bonuses despite the president's veto of their attempt at another payoff in October.

The retirement package included $110,000 each, diplomatic passports for them and their spouses, and a state funeral currently reserved for presidents and major achievers.

An average Kenyan makes about $1,800 annually, and would have to work for more than 60 years to earn the bonus amount.

And again, just like in October, the president rejected the latest attempt.

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