• About Joe Penney

    Joe Penney is a writer and photographer who lives in New York City. His articles and essays have been published by The Intercept, The New York Times, Quartz, Reuters and Paris journals. His most recent article, for The Intercept, focused on the US drone base in Niger. He was West African photo bureau chief for Reuters, and his pictures have appeared in Geo, Jeune Afrique, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Time, among others. He has photographed presidential elections in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone as well as the 2012 coup in Mali and the French military intervention in 2013, Mauritanian refugee camps, mining sites in Niger, migrants in the Sahel, counterterrorism campaigns in Cameroon, the 2013-2014 conflict in Central African Republic and the people's coup in Burkina Faso in 2014.

    Penney co-founded Sahelien.com, a news site covering the Sahel region, in 2013. In Africa, he has lived in Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal. He graduated from McGill University in Montreal and speaks English, French and Spanish.

    The Future of the French Language Resides in Francophone Africa

    by  • June 12, 2018 • Africa, Education, Geopolitics • 

    BOBIGNY, France — On March 20, French President Emmanuel Macron stood before a crowd at the prestigious Académie Française in central Paris. With his trademark confidence and fastidious affect, he made his case for French as a global, 21st-century language unburdened by the oppression associated with colonialism. “By making the language of the colonizers their own...

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    A New Peace-Building Podcast Series Delves Into East Africa’s Complexities

    by  • May 8, 2018 • Africa, Geopolitics, Peace and Security, UN Peacekeeping • 

    A new series called “Peacebuilders,” offering a weekly podcast of interviews with a diverse array of African and other professionals on vital issues they confront in their work in East Africa, has been introduced by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The nine-part series debuted on May 1, with the first one focused on...

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    Timbuktu’s Ancient Manuscripts Are Being Saved but Not Translated

    by  • February 7, 2017 • Africa, Education, Unesco • 3 Comments

    TIMBUKTU — Down the road from the 700-year-old iconic Djinguereber mosque in this north-central Malian city lies the Al Qadi library, a private, family-owned collection holding hundreds of manuscripts from nearly a millennium ago. The manuscripts are priceless treasures of African history that experts say cover a range of topics, from minute religious law disputes...

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    A West African Coup’s Potential Ripple Effects

    by  • May 16, 2012 • Africa, Security Council • 5 Comments

    Guinea-Bissau army

    DAKAR, Senegal — The fate of Guinea-Bissau hangs on precariously as regional and international bodies involved in resolving the country’s post-coup crisis, which forestalled a presidential run-off vote, disagree about pace and tactics. The complications from the coup and another recent government overthrow, in Mali, have created unease throughout West Africa, possibly the last...

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    A Transition in Sight for Mali

    by  • April 9, 2012 • Africa, Refugees • 1 Comment

    mali

    BAMAKO, Mali — The junta that upended the country here on March 22 has agreed to hand over power to Dioncounda Traore, the president of the National Assembly, in the next few days. Mali was set to hold a presidential election on April 29 before a junior military officer and his entourage ousted the...

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    In Tiny Guinea-Bissau, Ruthless Politics and Cool Refrain

    by  • March 30, 2012 • Africa, Security Council • 4 Comments

    Bissau port

    BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau — Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election on March 18 and the shooting of the country’s former military intelligence that evening caught the world’s attention briefly, as rumors of a coup festered. So far, that has not happened. Since then, more prominent West African nations have snagged international attention: the presidential election run-off in Senegal,...

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    Tensions in Senegal Raise the Heat in the Region

    by  • February 9, 2012 • Africa • 2 Comments

    DAKAR, Senegal — Senegal has always been praised as the most secure country in West Africa since its independence in 1960 from France. Its capital, Dakar, perched on the western edge of the Atlantic coastline, is a city of very rich and very poor, mosques and outdoor athletic fields, hawkers and cultural aficionados. A...

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