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Monday 30 May  Growing Malawi

Malawi, in Sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the world’s poorest countries with its GDP nearly at the bottom of the global league table. Malawi desperately needs economic growth yet despite hundreds of millions of dollars of donor money which has poured into the country for decades, overall the impact on the ground has been disappointing - poverty levels remain stubbornly high, education standards and job opportunities pitifully low. But there is a rare piece of good news from Malawi: a new alliance between the private sector, a group of smallholder farmers and one of the country’s biggest international donors - the European Union, is helping to run a sustainable sugar cane business and turn lives around.(BBC)

 

 

Tuesday 31 May   Shea Gold

Journalist and BBC Focus on Africa presenter Akwasi Sarpong heads to Ghana to hear the stories of rural women at the bottom of the pyramid of a multi-million dollar confectionery, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industry relying on shea butter from Africa. The United Nations Development Programme estimates that an average of three million women work directly, or indirectly, with shea butter. Exports account for 90 million to 200 million dollars a year.  Shea butter has become a preferred commodity for makers of skin products because of its natural healing properties and by confectioners as a cocoa butter substitute. But while we slap on body creams, bathe with soaps and enjoy sweets with shea butter extracts, how many of us know where the butter comes from and what life is like for the women who make it for income to support their families?(BBC)

 

Wednesday 1 June  

Next Stop - Mariachi Plaza  Next Stop - Mariachi Plaza

Like day labourers working construction, the mariachis of Boyle Heights in East LA, hang around on Mariachi Plaza to pick up work. You’ll see them most days in their dark suits, embroidered jackets, silver buttons running up the sides of their pants. Writer, Evangeline Ordaz spends a night out in the Latino suburbs with the mariachis of Boyle Heights, East LA.(BBC)

 

Thursday 2 June   Capturing South Africa

Accusations of corruption and unexplained ministerial appointments have fuelled widespread suspicions that the South African state has been “captured”. At the heart of this accusation are the Gupta brothers - a secretive family of Indian-born entrepreneurs. From modest beginnings in the 1990s, the Guptas’ South African business empire grew dramatically. Boosted, it is said, by their alleged influence over state contracts, political appointments and President Zuma himself.  Michael Robinson tells the story of “Guptagate” - how one of the fiercest political storms since the ending of apartheid has swept South Africa and its increasingly embattled President.(BBC)