Africa’s year in pictures 2021: Giggles and coronations

A selection of the best photos from across the African continent this year:

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Ethiopian Orthodox priests light incense.

Priest light incense in the city of Gondor in January during Timket – the Ethiopian Orthodox feast which commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

A traditional group performs the final funeral rites of former Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings in Accra, Ghana, on January 27, 2021. - Former Ghana President Jerry John Rawlings died in November 2020 at the age of 73 and his funeral was initially scheduled for December 23, 2020 but was postponed, due to what the foreign ministry called

Also in January, final rites are performed for the former president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, who died at the age of 73 in November 2020…

Children smile holding their sweets.

While in Liberia, the New Year brings gifts and smiles as community leader Janet Sharty hands out popcorn, lollipops and biscuits to children.

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Mayar Sherif stares intently at the ball as she hits a return.

February sees Mayar Sherif make history by becoming the first Egyptian woman to win a main-draw match at a tennis Grand Slam thanks to her performance at the Australian Open.

Flamingos standing in very still water are reflected as in a mirror in Lake Magadi, Kenya - Friday 12 February 2021

Also in February, feeding flamingos are reflected in the waters of Lake Magadi in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

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A woman walks through the oasis town of Figuig - with yellow and blue painted walls and doors - on Morocco's border with Algeria - Saturday 20 March 2021

Figuig, a brightly painted oasis town in the Atlas Mountains, brings colour to March…

Moroccan artist Yassine Balbzioui poses next to his work Fantasy at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Spain - Tuesday 30 March 2021

And days later in Spain, Yassine Balbzioui poses next to his work which is part of an exhibition exploring Moroccan art since 1950.

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A woman wearing a palm headdress smiles.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in Israel celebrate on Palm Sunday…

MMA champion Francis Ngannou parading through Bafoussam, having arrived back in Cameroon on 28 April.

Meanwhile Francis Ngannou returns home to Cameroon to a hero’s welcome, after becoming the new world champion of heavyweight mixed martial arts after his UFC bout in Las Vegas.

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Children jump into the water of the Nile.

In May as Egypt’s temperatures soar, children in the outskirts of Cairo cool off by jumping into the River Nile.

A park ranger walks up Mount Nyiragongo.

Meanwhile in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo hundreds of thousands of people are forced from their homes when Mount Nyiragongo erupts – and weeks later volcanologists and rangers pass ash-coated trees as they scale its slopes.

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A woman and her great-grandson sit in candlelight.

June sees more power cuts in South Africa, where Cecilia Nkosi talks with her great-grandson Smangaliso at home in Soweto.

Three women dressed in traditional dresses of the Harari culture of eastern Ethiopia .

Kitted out in traditional Harari clothes from eastern Ethiopia, these women attend the reopening ceremony of Addis Ababa’s famous, and remodelled, Meskel Square.

A woman's hands holding a diamond

And this diamond, described as the third-largest of its kind ever found, is unearthed in Botswana.

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Two women smile and pose on the red carpet.

In July the Chadian actresses Rihane Khalil Alio and Achouackh Abakar Souleymane – who star in Lingui, The Sacred Bonds – take to the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival in France.

Child thrown from building

Naledi Manyoni throws her daughter, Melokuhle, to strangers from a burning building following mass riots in South Africa against ex-President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment. Both mother and daughter emerged safely.

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Egypt's Mohab Ishak competes in the preliminary round of the men's 3m springboard diving event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on August 2, 2021.

In August, Egyptian diver Mohab Ishak takes to the springboard at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A kingmaker presents a gift to Prince Tsola Emiko during his coronation

And in Nigeria, Prince Tsola Emiko is crowned the new olu, or king, of Warri.

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A BBC composite of three individual photo portraits that were taken by AFP.

September marks the end of Niger’s rainy season and the start of the Cure Salée festival – where 15-year-old Nobe Nobe from Ago, 17-year-old Djanje Haiballa from Fouduk and 28-year-old Veli Rabeo also of Fouduk – pose for individual portraits.

Egyptian children lying on a cotton crop on a farm in Fayoum, southern Cairo, Egypt - 19 September 2021

Meanwhile, in Egypt, the cotton harvest gets going.

Franco-Ivorian singer Vegedream (R) performs with one of his fans on stage at the Festival of Urban Music of Anoumabo (Femua) in Abidjan on September 11, 2021.

Also in September, a lucky fan is serenaded on stage by Vegedream at the Anoumabo Festival of Urban Music (Femua) in Ivory Coast.

A handout photo made available by Guinea military shows Alpha Condé , the deposed president, detained by army special forces in Conakry, Guinea - 5 September 2021

After 10 years in power including a controversial third term, Guinean President Alpha Condé is detained and the military announces it is seizing power – releasing this photo to show who is in charge.

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Diana Kipyogei of Kenya wears a gilded crown, Boston, the US - 11 October 2021

In October Kenya’s Diana Kipyogei triumphs in the Boston Marathon, in the US.

A wall mural of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is restored by the artist Brian Rolfe in Cape Town, South Africa - 7 October 2021

The months was also marked the 90th birthday of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when artist Brian Rolfe restored a mural of the cleric in Cape Town after it was defaced by a racist slur. The Nobel laureate later died in December.

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A protestor holding up a Sudan flag against a dark blue sky in Khartoum Sunday 21 November 2021

November sees huge protests continue in Sudan demanding full civilian rule following the coup in October…

A man in traditional dress parades in the September 24 Stadium prior the ceremony celebrating Independence Day in Bissau on November 16, 2021. - Independence Day 2021 was postponed by two months by decision of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo due to covid-19 and bad weather.

While Guinea-Bissau’s main stadium is the scene for the country’s independence day celebrations.

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A man standing with his cow in front of a bright pink wall by a ferry terminal on the River Gambia in The Gambia - 9 December 2021

In December, a man and his cow queue for a ferry in The Gambia after presidential elections in which Adama Barrow won a second term…

Wizkid and Burna boy performing on stage at the O2 Arena in London, the UK - 1 December 2021

And Wizkid and Burna Boy bring the year to a close with an electrifying performance at London’s O2 Arena.

Images from AFP, Getty Images, Reuters and BBC