John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa’s Apartheid Museums

by John Campbell Friday, March 30, 2012
U.S.Senator Barack Obama (L) looks at a photo with Antoinette Sithole, sister of Hector Pieterson, at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, South Africa August 23, 2006. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Over last weekend, my research associate, Asch Harwood, and I visited two of South Africa’s best known apartheid museums, the Apartheid Museum, between Johannesburg and Soweto, and the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto itself. The first, by far the largest, seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of apartheid, including its roots in the practice of racial segregation and exploitation going back hundreds of years. The second is more specifically focused on the 1976 Soweto student uprising against an attempt to force Afrikaans as the language of instruction in public schools. (Hector Pieterson was a twelve-year-old demonstrator who was killed.) For an institution of such serious purpose, the location of the Apartheid Museum is quixotic: it is adjacent to an amusement park and hotel and across the street from a gambling casino. Read more »

The Central Methodist Mission in Johannesburg

by John Campbell Thursday, March 29, 2012
Zimbabwean refugees are silhouetted in the windows of the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, March 4, 2010. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

When a measure of economic stability returned to Zimbabwe, South Africa dismantled its special treatment regimes for refugees from that country. It now requires entry permits, work permits, and imposes other requirements which, according to a human rights NGO, are consistent with international practice. However, xenophobia remains in job-starved South Africa, and the under-trained and poorly paid police often have been unduly rough with Zimbabweans. Read more »

Africa Unlikely to Win World Bank Presidency

by John Campbell Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim (C) walks off stage with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (L) after U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) named Kim as his nominee to be the next president of the World Bank, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, March 23, 2012. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola are supporting the candidacy of Nigeria’s foreign minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the World Bank (WB) presidency. For that office, President Obama has nominated the president of Dartmouth and a medical doctor, Jim Yong Kim, who has a distinguished background in development — but not in business, finance or politics, as his predecessors have had. Read more »

Guest Post: Mali Coup’s Regional Impact

by John Campbell Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Malians gather in front of the headquarters of the main trade union building as political and civil society leaders call for the army to hand power back to civilians after a coup d'etat, in the capital Bamako, March 26, 2012. (David Lewis/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

The putsch is being reported as a coup by lower-ranking officers and senior people have reportedly been arrested in Gao. Apparently, the action was engendered by soldiers’ dissatisfaction with the level of support from the government in fighting the Tuareg insurgency. Insurgents are reportedly thrilled by events, which they feel will make it easier for them to move ahead and take more towns in the North. Read more »

Senegal’s Elections are Good News

by John Campbell Monday, March 26, 2012
Supporters of Senegalese opposition presidential candidate Macky Sall celebrate in the capital Dakar March 25, 2012. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

A week following the dark news of a military coup in Mali, Senegal’s presidential runoff is profoundly encouraging for African democrats. Incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade has conceded to, and congratulated, opposition candidate Macky Sall following the March 25 presidential runoff. The press reports that the elections were calm. Though election observers have yet to comment, based on press reports their findings are likely to be favorable. Read more »

Nigeria: Boko Haram Negotiations Break Down

by John Campbell Friday, March 23, 2012
Guns and a police helmet are displayed at a barrack after a shootout between suspected members of Islamic sect Boko Haram and the military in Nigeria's northern city of Kano March 20, 2012. (Bala Adamu/Courtesy Reuters)

Initially facilitated by a journalist, talks between the Supreme Council for Sharia, on behalf of the Abuja government, and Boko Haram, the radical Islamic movement held responsible for a campaign of terror in northern Nigeria, have broken down. A Boko Haram spokesman attributed the breakdown to “insincerity” on the part of the government, while one for the Sharia Council complained about leaks. Read more »

The Anglican Church and Homosexuality in Africa

by John Campbell Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Britain's Archbishops of York and Canterbury, John Sentamu (L) and Rowan Williams (2nd L), march through central London, to commemorate the Bicentenery of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, March 24, 2007. (Toby Melville/Courtesy Reuters)

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ departure at the end of the year as leader of the Church of England and Anglican churches around the world brings to mind the growing importance of Africans in the Anglican Communion and the other “mainstream” churches, particularly as African Anglicans are exploding in numbers. Read more »

Zimbabwe Elections This Year?

by John Campbell Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Zimbabwe Prime Minister and Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) and National Organising Secretary Nelson Chamisa present a booklet at the launch of Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe (COSEZ) in Harare March 8, 2012. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Press reports indicate that President Robert Mugabe has decided to press ahead for elections this year, despite the lack of a new constitution and other reforms designed to forestall a repetition of the electoral violence of 2007. The opposition Movement for Democratic change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, remains opposed to pre-new constitution elections as does South Africa and much of the international community. Read more »

Guest Post: Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria Slowly Moving Forward

by John Campbell Monday, March 19, 2012
Nigeria's former speaker of house of representatives Dimeji Bankole, charged with illegally obtaining 38 billion naira ($240 million) in bank loans is escorted out of the Federal High Court in the capital Abuja June 13, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

Nigeria’s struggle against corruption is moving slowly, at least in terms of results. Transparency International’s “Corruption Perception Index 2011”, which evaluates 183 countries, put Nigeria at 143. The country ranked 134 out of 178 countries in 2010. Read more »