Stories written by Mercedes Sayagues
In her 20 years in Africa, Mercedes Sayagues has survived stepping barefoot on a 10 centimeter-long scorpion in the Kalahari Desert, being taken hostage by Unita in Kuito during Angola’s civil war and being expelled by Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe in 2001 for reporting on human rights abuses. She is a Knight Health Fellow in Mozambique since 2010, with a focus on improving health reporting. Her previous post was editor in chief of the Irin/PlusNews Portuguese service, from 2005 until 2008. A Uruguayan-born journalist, Mercedes specialises in AIDS, gender, sexuality, health, humanitarian issues and human rights. She has written studies on AIDS policies in Senegal and Uganda and on investment in Mali for the South African Institute for International Affairs at Wits University. She enjoys writing quirky personal columns in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and at IPS’s collective gender blog. Mercedes is an experienced media trainer, having facilitated more than 20 courses for the NSJ in Maputo, Mozambique and Fojo, Sweden as well as for UNICEF and UNAIDS. She has also produced two manuals on reporting on HIV/AIDS, one in Portuguese for UNESCO/NSJ in 2001 and one in English for PlusNews in 2008. Sayagues has an M.A. in Journalism from New York University and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.

RIGHTS: Reversing Worldwide History of Exploitation of Indigenous Peoples

It looks like an ordinary cactus - thin, thorny fingers growing less than a metre tall in the reddish sands of southern Africa's Kalahari Desert - but on Mar 24 the Hoodia Gordonii reversed a worldwide history of exploitation of indigenous peoples.

RIGHTS: South Africa Challenges World Rules on Intellectual Property

What does an anti-pimple cream have to do with the African Renaissance? How can a yellow fruit relished by elephants challenge world rules on intellectual property?

HEALTH-BOTSWANA: Reaching Young People to Beat AIDS Pandemic

It is midnight on Saturday. Thick crowds pack the three bars in Kilimanjaro, a shabby shopping centre in the Gaborone township of Broadhurst. Beer and whisky bottles litter the grounds. It is brisk business for liquor, dagga and sex.

HEALTH-ANGOLA: The Rich Fly to Lisbon, or Sao Paulo to Get Quality AIDs Care

Luisa Cruz* felt like she had won the lottery. She got her life back. But her windfall turned into a nightmare.

HEALTH-MOZAMBIQUE: Taking AIDS Education To The Playing Field

The stadium is packed. The crowd cheers wildly. This is a key match for Mozambique's first league soccer cup.

HEALTH-MOZAMBIQUE: Some Traditions Hamper AIDS Education Progress

Some traditional beliefs and practices run counter to HIV/AIDS campaigns hampering progress, say Mozambican researchers.

POLITICS-ZIMBABWE: Women Brave Violence To Say ‘NO’

For wearing a T-shirt urging "Women vote No to the referendum", Betty Makura was assaulted and stripped down to her bra -- a serious humiliation for a Shona woman-by a group of 'Yes' supporters in Mabvuku township near Harare.

ENVIRONMENT-MOZAMBIQUE: Greens Battle To Save Port

"Do not destroy our existing wealth to create new wealth," wrote in 1973 Mozambican environmentalists to the Portuguese colonial government.

TOURISM: US Billionaire’s Dream Of Floating Casinos Shattered

The future of southern Africa's most pristine wilderness is uncertain. Last week, the Mozambican Council of Ministers revoked the concession of 236,000 hectares (ha) for eco-tourism granted in 1996 to American billionaire James Ulysses Blanchard III.

RIGHTS-ANGOLA: UN Peacekeepers Turn A Blind Eye On Abuses

While the Angolan government clamps down on the independent media and the unexplained murders last month of two journalists and a Unita legislator send shivers through Luanda, the roots of Angola's appalling disregard for human rights are uncovered in a recent report by Human Rights Watch.

//REPEATING//MEDIA-ANGOLA: Tough Times For Journalists

Isaias Soares does not walk alone on the streets of Malange. He doesn't go out at night at all. He is afraid of the security forces.

MEDIA-ANGOLA: Tough Times For Journalists

Isaias Soares does not walk alone on the streets of Malange. He doesn't go out at night at all. He is afraid of the security forces.

POLITICS-ANGOLA: President Dos Santos Cuts Personality Cult

Seldom one day passes without a mention of the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation (FESA) in the evening newscast at the government-owned and sole TV station, Televisao Popular de Angola.

POLITICS-ANGOLA: Millions Displaced And Forgotten

On the outskirts of Angola's besieged provincial capitals, squalid camps are springing up to house hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants.

ANGOLA: Can The Call For Peace Be Stronger Than Diamonds And Oil?

A Peace Forum to be convened in the Angolan capital of Luanda on Sep. 29-30, will call for an immediate cease- fire in the civil war to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to starving people countrywide.

ENVIRONMENT-ANGOLA: Losing Trees to War

Besides loss of agricultural land to landmines, one major environmental casualty of Angola's long running civil war is deforestation.

POLITICS-ANGOLA: Millions Displaced And Forgotten

On the outskirts of Angola's besieged provincial capitals, squalid camps are springing up to house hundreds of thousands of displaced peasants.

RIGHTS-AFRICA: Women Gang Up Against Gender Censorship

The African programme of the women against gender censorship network was launched at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair held in the capital Harare from 2-6 August.

DEVELOPMENT-ZIMBABWE: Victoria Falls — A Town Of Contradictions

Driving from the airport at Vic Falls, Zimbabwe's top tourist resort, you may see antelope, warthog and elephants in the bush and, above the tree line, the spray of "the smoke that thunders", the majestic cataracts.

ENVIRONMENT-MOZAMBIQUE: Campaigners Halt Danish-Funded Project

Environmental and community activists have succeeded in halting a controversial Danish-funded project to burn obsolete pesticides at a cement factory in Matola, 15 kms from the Mozambican capital of Maputo.

RIGHTS-ZIMBABWE: Denying Women The Right To Inherit Sparks Debate

The recent, widely publicised Magaya vs. Magaya ruling of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe that denied women the right to inherit under customary law has fueled a review of the interface between customary and general law as regards women.

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