Malawi: Life After Death RowThe Documentary Podcast add
Byson expected to be dead long ago. Now in his sixties, he was given a death sentence quarter of a century ago. But instead of being executed, he’s found himself back at home, looking after his elderly mother, holding down a job, and volunteering to help other prisoners leaving jail.
His release was part of a re-sentencing project in Malawi. Anyone who was given the death penalty automatically for killing someone can have their case re-examined. What is known as a mandatory death sentence was ruled to be unconstitutional, so now judges are giving custodial sentences instead, or in some cases inmates are even being freed.
Charlotte McDonald travels to the small town of Balaka to visit the Halfway House where Byson mentors former inmates. She visits someone who came out of jail a few years ago and now runs her own business in the village where she was born. And she speaks to one of the last remaining people on death row about their upcoming re-sentencing hearing.
Many of those former death row inmates are now back in their communities living and working – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ordinary Malawians are ready for the death penalty to be abolished.
(Image: Former inmate Byson sits with his mother, Lucy, outside her house. Credit: BBC)
As the World Sees Britain: Germany and how it sees BritainThe Documentary Podcast add
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain.
In Germany, Neil talks to Wolfgang Schäuble, the president of the Bundestag; TV host, writer and cultural commentator Thea Dorn; and Hartmut Dorgerloh, the new director of Berlin's Humboldt Forum.
As the UK prepares to place itself on the world stage as an independent power, he explores the relationship between Germany and Britain.
George Weah: The footballing presidentThe Documentary Podcast add
George Weah, former World Footballer of the Year and star of AC Milan, Chelsea and Monaco, was elected president of Liberia in a landslide victory just over a year ago. Having been raised in one of Liberia’s worst slums, many saw him as a man who understood the needs of the poor. But some now doubt that he will deliver on campaign promises to help lift people out of poverty. Mike Thomson, who was granted a rare interview with the President, reports from Monrovia.
Can we fix it? The inside story of match fixing in tennisThe Documentary Podcast add
Last month, law enforcement officials in Spain said they had broken up a major match fixing ring in tennis. The Guardia Civil said 28 players competing at the lower levels of tennis were implicated. It's alleged that a group of Armenians had bribed the players to fix matches.
Assignment reveals the inside story of how players and betting gangs are seeking to corrupt the lower tiers of the sport. In many cases, a player only has to lose a set or certain games - not the whole match - to get paid. Players and fixers communicate on social media as matches get underway to ensure the correct outcome is achieved. The rewards can be significant with players sometimes being paid thousands of pounds - often much more than they can earn in prize money. For the betting gangs who have placed money on a guaranteed outcome, the pay off can be much greater.
Two years after the BBC first revealed concerns about match fixing in the game, Assignment looks at how the tennis authorities have responded to the issue and examines the measures put forward by an independent panel to reduce the risk of corruption.
Reporter: Paul Connolly
Producer: Paul Grant
(Image: A tennis ball on a tennis court. Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images)
The Trumped RepublicansThe Documentary Podcast add
Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation’s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind?
So where are the aliens?The Documentary Podcast add
Vulcans, Daleks, Martians, Grays - our culture is pervaded by alien beings from distant worlds – some benevolent…most not so much. In our galaxy alone, there should be tens of billions of planets harbouring life, but we have not heard any broadcasts or seen any flashing lights from distant civilisations. Chief astronomer for SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), Seth Shostak, has devoted his career to searching for signs of alien life. In this programme he tackles the fundamental question about whether we are alone in the universe.
The Ballads of Emmett TillThe Documentary Podcast add
**Some listeners may find parts of this programme upsetting** Emmett Till, fourteen and black, was put on the train from Chicago by his mother Mamie in August 1955. She got his corpse back, mutilated and stinking. Emmett had been beaten, shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for supposedly whistling at a white woman. His killers would forever escape justice. What Mamie did next helped galvanise the Civil Rights Movement and make Emmett the sacrificial lamb of the movement.
The PledgeThe Documentary Podcast add
On college campuses across the United States, students die every year as a result of “hazing” - sometimes violent and dangerous rituals designed to initiate new members into a group to which they pledge loyalty.
In 2011, Pam and Robert Champion Sr. lost their son Robert to a hazing incident. Robert was a student at Florida A&M University and a drum major in the college’s prestigious marching band, the Marching 100. He was brutally beaten to death by his fellow band members in an initiation rite known as "Crossing Bus C." Even though this ritual was prohibited, it was widely condoned, accepted, even encouraged, and going through it was considered an essential part of band membership.
Today hazing remains rife in all types of groups, from sports teams to all-male fraternities and all-female sororities, the so-called “Greek Letter Organisations” since the names of these social groups are taken from the Greek alphabet.
With around 220 deaths attributed to hazing since records began, producer and presenter Nicolas Jackson asks why so many are willing to risk so much in order to become members of a group, and just what can be done to stop it.
Producer and presenter: Nicolas Jackson
“The Pledge” is an Afonica production for BBC World Service
(Image: Family and friends Of Armando Villa call for an end to fraternity "hazing." Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Sweeping the WorldThe Documentary Podcast add
In Sweeping the World, award-winning poet, Imtiaz Dharker presents a reflective evocation in words, sound and music of the broom in many cultures. Whether it’s dust, spirits or the mythic power of the broom to break free and cause havoc, this programme takes a sweeping look at a never-ending story.
The Politics of Mongolian Hip HopThe Documentary Podcast add
MC Dizraeli hears how Mongolia’s massive hip hop scene is shaping the country’s future. He finds surprising lyrics that dispense moral advice, worry about alcoholism or praise the taste of fresh yoghurt on the Mongolian steppe. Freestyles and conversations across Ulaanbaatar reveal global hip hop influences and deep resonances with Mongolia’s musical heritage. Hip hop is so popular that Mongolian politicians try to buy up rappers to support their campaigns. However, in the midst of a changing Ulaanbaatar Dizraeli listens to lyrics that are critical of politicians, asking who or what is holding Mongolia back?
Japan's Elderly Crime WaveThe Documentary Podcast add
Elderly pensioners in Japan are committing petty crimes so that they can be sent to prison. One in five of all prisoners in Japan are now over 65. The number has quadrupled in the last two decades, a result it seems of rising elderly poverty and loneliness, as seniors become increasingly cut-off from their over-worked offspring. In jail old people at least get a bed, a routine and a hot meal, and for many, as Ed discovers, the outside world can seem like a threatening place. For the prison authorities it means an increasingly ageing population behind bars and the challenges of dealing with a range of geriatric health issues.
Produced and reported by Ed Butler.
(Image: Elderly Inmate "Kita-san" at Fuchu Prison, Tokyo. Credit: BBC)
Solving Alzheimer's: Living and Dying with Alzheimer'sThe Documentary Podcast add
In the Netherlands, people with dementia can legally chose euthanasia but the debate is going back and forth there. When can dementia patients consent to euthanasia? The answer it turns out - is ethically very complicated and a Dutch doctor is now being prosecuted for performing euthanasia on a patient with advanced Alzheimer’s. In South Korea and the UK we hear from some of the most promising initiatives; and how a dementia friendly society is possible, with action not just from governments and NGOs but crucially from all of us.
Songs from the Depths of HellThe Documentary Podcast add
Aleksander Kulisiewicz spent six years in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, imprisoned soon after the Nazi invasion and their attempted destruction of Poland. In the camp he found a unique role both as a composer and living tape recorder of the world of the unfree and the damned. Blessed with a photographic memory prisoners, many of whom knew they were to be killed, would ask him to remember their songs. Songs of resistance and defiance, songs of love and home, songs that captured the brutality of life and death in the camps. He would also write 50 of his own songs. Performances would take place in secret, at night, away from the eyes of the SS. Kulisiewicz survived a death march at the war’s end and recovered to become the foremost chronicler, in song, of the world of the Concentration Camps. He would obsessively document memories and songs until the end of his life in 1982. In the 1960s he became an unlikely attraction in festivals of folk song for youth rebelling against the silence of their parents generation. Strumming his guitar liberated from Sachsenhausen, performing in his camp uniform, Kulisiewicz would sing his songs from the depths of hell. Oral historian Alan Dein explores his life and musical legacy.
Closing Uganda’s OrphanageThe Documentary Podcast add
Uganda is a country that has seen massive growth in the number of ‘orphanages’ providing homes to children, despite the number of orphans there decreasing.
It is believed 80% of children now living in orphanages have at least one living parent. The majority of the hundreds of orphanages operating in Uganda are illegal, unregistered and now are in a fight with the government trying to shut them down.
Dozens on the government's list for closure are funded by overseas charities and church groups, many of which are based in the UK.
With widespread concerns about abuse, trafficking and exploitation of children growing up in orphanages are funders doing enough to make sure their donations aren't doing more harm than good?
Reporter: Anna Cavell
Producer: Kate West
(Image: Ugandan children stand on the banks of the Kagera River. Credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Solving Alzheimer's: The Trillion Dollar DiseaseThe Documentary Podcast add
Dementia is now a trillion-dollar disease, and with the numbers of patients doubling every 20 years, the burden will fall unevenly on developing countries where the growth rate is fastest. We travel to South Korea, the fastest ageing country in the world, where the country’s president has declared the challenge of Alzheimer’s to be a national crisis. We meet families struggling to look after loved ones with Alzheimer’s and visit the Netherlands, where an innovative approach to Alzheimer’s care offers hope for the future.
The Assassination - Part TwoThe Documentary Podcast add
It is one of the world's great unsolved murders. Ten years ago, Pakistan's most prominent politician, a woman people would form human chains to protect from assassins, died in a suicide blast. The intervening years have brought allegations, arrests and a UN inquiry – but not one murder conviction. The victim was Benazir Bhutto.
France, Algeria and the battle for truthThe Documentary Podcast add
President Emmanuel Macron has recently done something unusual for a French President – he made a declaration recognising that torture was used by the French military during the Algerian War of Independence.
He described a system that allowed people to be arrested, interrogated and sometimes killed. Many families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones.
At 87, Josette Audin, has campaigned for more than 60 years for the French state to take responsibility for the disappearance of her husband, Maurice Audin, during the Algerian War.
Charlotte McDonald hears Josette’s story and discovers that the Algerian War has had a lasting impact on many more in France.
She speaks to historians Malika Rahal and Fabrice Riceputi about their website 1000autres.org, and to war veteran Rémi Serres about his association 4ACG.
Producer, Josephine Casserly
Editor: Bridget Harney
(Image: File photo of Maurice Audin, circa 1950. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Africa’s Drone ExperimentThe Documentary Podcast add
While the idea of retail giants like Amazon dropping parcels from the sky via drone may be a long way off, in East Africa momentum is building over the idea of drone delivery in hard to reach places. In the island of Juma near Mwanza, one of hundreds of remote inhabited islands in the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, an ambitious new drone project called the Lake Victoria Challenge is taking place. Technology reporter Jane Wakefield visits Juma to see first-hand how the concept could work.
Solving Alzheimer's: Fear and StigmaThe Documentary Podcast add
Few of us will escape the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease. The grim pay-back from being healthy, wealthy or lucky enough to live into our late 80s and beyond is dementia. One in three - maybe even one in two of us - will then get dementia and forget almost everything we ever knew. But it is far more than just a personal family tragedy. We explore how fear in some parts of the world is stigmatising those who have it, and denying help to those who need it.