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Alex Duval Smith is a woman. She grew up in Sweden and went straight into journalism from school.
She has been covering Africa for over 10 years, chiefly for British and French newspapers, radio and television. In that time she has travelled to more than 35 African countries and has covered wars, football, hairstyles, and an initiative by a village in Mali to send aid to a town in Canada after it suffered a severe snowstorm.
Previous to working in Africa she was The Guardian's Paris correspondent and served a short stint as the newspaper's Washington correspondent.