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09
NOV

Comrade Africa

How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s
07
NOV

Albania’s Iranian guests

Who are Albania’s Iranian guests? In July, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani visited an Albanian village just outside Tirana. At a tightly-guarded encampment, he addressed the Iranian group who live there - the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). MEK has been a leading opposition voice against the Islamic Republic of Iran for decades.

Following the revolution of 1979, MEK fell out with the Iranian government – members were persecuted, and the organisation moved to Iraq for around three decades. Migration to Albania was facilitated by the United States, and more than 3,000 members have arrived.

But in Albania – a fragile democracy - there’s disquiet. Critics claim MEK’s presence compromises Albania’s security, and is fuelling a crack-down on the press. Meanwhile, dozens of Iranian MEK members have defected but find themselves living a precarious existence in Tirana because they are stateless, without passports.

Assignment investigates the improbable relationship between Albania and MEK.

Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer: Albana Kasapi

(Photo: Gholam Mirzai has left the MEK. He would like to return to Iran. Credit: BBC Credit)
06
NOV

Moondog: Sound of New York

New Yorker Huey Morgan examines the life, work and enduring appeal of the musician known as Moondog, who lived and worked on the city's streets in the 1950s and '60s. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in Kansas in May 1916, he played musical instruments from an early age and lost his sight in an accident when he was 16. He went on to teach himself music and composition by ear, as well as music theory through books in braille. His music would take inspiration from street sounds like the subway and foghorns, and his compositions were a combination of classical, traditional jazz and American vernacular. He became a pioneer with a unique attitude to composition and melody, and also invented instruments.
05
NOV

Cameroon's MMA champion

By the age of 10 Francis Ngannou was working in a sand quarry, where he dreamed of becoming a world class boxer. As a young man he traversed the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to find himself homeless in Paris. From there, within an extraordinarily short amount of time, he exploded through the ranks to the highest echelons of the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts.

He is now a leading contender for heavyweight champion of the world and a global star. He returns to his village in western Cameroon, where he is investing in the next generation. Zak Brophy travels to Cameroon to hear the story of his incredible life, and his dreams of becoming a role model within his community.
31
OCT

The Zogos of Liberia

When Miatta was 14 years old, armed rebels stormed into her classroom and forcibly recruited her and her classmates. They were trained to use machine guns and then sent to the front line to fight in Liberia’s devastating civil war.

Nineteen years later, Miatta is what many Liberians would call a Zogo. The Zogos are Liberia’s underclass: jobless, homeless and addicted to drugs. They’re a menace on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where many make their living by snatching purses and phones from passers-by.

In this Assignment, Lucy Ash follows a projects aiming to rehabilitate hundreds of Liberia’s Zogos – including Miatta.

Producer: Josephine Casserly

(Image: A mural in the Liberian capital called Female Zogos of Monrovia. They are sitting on gravestones because many are homeless and seek refuge in cemeteries. Credit: James Giahyue)
30
OCT

Northern Ireland 1969: The violence spreads

Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland yet never really understood how the Troubles started. In the second programme, looking back at Scarman testimonies and talking to her parents who were caught up in events, Ruth is trying to work out how Northern Ireland spiralled out of control. Fifty years on and with her first baby on the way, Ruth wants to know if the legacy of the Troubles will ever be lifted in a Northern Ireland which is still divided today.
27
OCT

Uganda's war in the bush

Alan Kasujja tells the story of the guerilla war in Uganda which began nearly 40 years ago and led to the current President Yoweri Museveni taking power. After the fall of Idi Amin there was a power vacuum in Uganda which led up to a general election. The former President Milton Obote returned from exile and was declared the winner. But amidst accusations of gerrymandering and intimidation, opposition groups claimed the 1980 election had been rigged. A young politician, Yoweri Museveni, had promised to fight an armed uprising in the bush if Obote won, and in 1981 he began a protracted guerrilla war.
24
OCT

Being black in Italy

Dickens Olewe meets Italy’s first and only black senator, Tony Iwobi, and hears how a new generation of black Italians are fighting to claim their place in a society that’s still very white.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Senator Iwobi moved to Italy as a young man and carved out a successful career in business. Now he’s immigration spokesperson for the right-wing Lega party and wants to stop the illegal flow of migrants coming to Italy from Africa. BBC Africa journalist Dickens Olewe follows Iwobi in the Senate in Rome and finds out what it’s like to be black in a party that’s widely perceived as racist.

At a festival on the bank of the River Tiber, Dickens meets aspiring politician Paolo Diop from the Far-Right Brothers of Italy. Diop moved to Italy from Senegal as a baby and describes himself as “an Italian nationalist and an African nationalist” who wants to “make Africa great” by sending migrants home.

We also meet the young black activists coming of age in the midst of the migrant crisis and the rise of the political right. Born and bred in Italy, they feel deeply Italian but are not always recognised as such - among them the rapper Tommy Kuti whose work explores his Afro-Italian identity, the founder of Milan’s Afro Fashion Week Michelle Francine Ngonmo and the writer Igiaba Scego, whose parents grew up in one of Italy’s African colonies.

Producer: Helen Grady

(Image: Afro-Italian rapper and musician Tommy Kuti in Milan. Credit: Helen Grady/BBC)
23
OCT

Northern Ireland 1969: Battle lines

Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland, yet never really understood how the Troubles started. Although the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement effectively brought peace in 1998, Ruth believes the fallout from the violence continues to cast a long shadow over a society which is still divided. Now Ruth returns to the same courtroom in Belfast where the Scarman Tribunal sat, and begins to piece together the events of August 1969, when Northern Ireland spiralled out of control.
22
OCT

Looking for love: The Zoroastrian way

The Zoroastrian community has given the world Freddie Mercury, produced some of India’s richest businessmen and practises one of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism. Yet the community faces extinction: there are less than 200,000 Zoroastrians left worldwide. Shazneen is one of them. She is 31, lives in London and is on the lookout for someone to settle down with. The problem? Members of her small community can only marry other Zoroastrians.
17
OCT

Argentina’s ‘white gold’ rush

Are lithium-powered electric vehicles as ‘green’ as we think they are? With the advent of electric cars, manufacturers tell us we’re racing towards a clean-energy future. It’s lithium that powers these vehicles. Most of the world’s stocks of this lightest of metals are found in brine deep beneath salt flats, high in the Andes.In Argentina, in Jujuy - the province with the highest percentage of indigenous households in the country - massive projects are underway. But in a super-dry region, with water the most precious resource, and lithium extraction demanding huge quantities of it, there’s anxiety - and outright opposition.

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly Producer in Argentina: Gert De Saedeleer

(Image: Tomasa Soriano keeps goats and llamas – she believes there’s less water locally since the lithium miners arrived. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
16
OCT

The Gospel of Wealth

What should billionaires do with their money? The world’s greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie said they should give it all away. Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland and moved to America where he became a steel magnate and the richest man in the world. In his guidebook to philanthropy, The Gospel of Wealth, he challenged people who acquired great wealth to give it back to the community. He also believed the most important cause to support was education. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown asks why today’s billionaire philanthropists aren’t giving away more money and why education is no longer the top priority.

101 episodes

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