John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Guest Post: Convicting Charles Taylor: Justice for Sierra Leoneans

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, April 30, 2012
A sign commemorating the start of the civil war is displayed at a memorial site where the conflict began, in the village of Bomaru, eastern Sierra Leone April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) A sign commemorating the start of the civil war is displayed at a memorial site where the conflict began, in the village of Bomaru, eastern Sierra Leone April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Mohamed Jallow, a former interdepartmental associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, and now a program development specialist at IntraHealth International. Mohamed came to the United States as a refugee from Sierra Leone in 2003. Read more »

Africa and the World Bank Presidency

by John Campbell Friday, April 27, 2012
Nigeria's Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attends an economic conference in the capital Abuja October 20, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attends an economic conference in the capital Abuja October 20, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Many Africans were proud that the continent fielded a highly qualified candidate for the World Bank presidency, Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. By the time the vote took place, serious African observers recognized that the American candidate would win. But, there was also satisfaction that the three sub-Saharan heavyweights – Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola – had come together to nominate and support her. Read more »

Azawad: Africa’s Newest State?

by John Campbell Thursday, April 26, 2012
People from northern Mali march against the seizure or their home region by Tuareg and Islamist rebels, in the capital Bamako, April 10, 2012.  (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) People from northern Mali march against the seizure or their home region by Tuareg and Islamist rebels, in the capital Bamako, April 10, 2012. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

The Tuareg rebels on April 6 declared their independence from Mali and announced the formation of the state of Azawad. That action was condemned or ignored by the international community. Read more »

Sudan: Not Looking Good

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses supporters after receiving victory greetings at the Defence Ministry, in Khartoum April 20, 2012. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses supporters after receiving victory greetings at the Defence Ministry, in Khartoum April 20, 2012. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

Despite reports that fighting is ebbing between Sudan and South Sudan, the situation is troubling. Last week, Sudan (Khartoum) president al-Bashir escalated his rhetoric against South Sudan (Juba) in the aftermath of the latter’s forces occupying an oil-rich region, Heglig, inside Sudan’s borders. Al-Bashir has characterized the Juba government as an “insect,” and he appears to be repudiating the independence of South Sudan. The press reports him as saying, “Either we end up occupying Juba or you (South Sudan) end up occupying Khartoum but the boundaries of the old Sudan can longer fit us together, only one of us has to remain standing.” He said that his Sudan Armed Forces will teach South Sudan “a lesson in jihad and patriotism,” according to press reports. Read more »

South Africa: President Zuma Gets a Fourth Wife

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 24, 2012
South African President Jacob Zuma's fiancee Bongi Ngema dances at a traditional wedding ceremony known as "Umgcagco" at his home in Nkandla, in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province, in this handout picture supplied by the Government Communication and Information Service, April 20, 2012. (Handout/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma's fiancee Bongi Ngema dances at a traditional wedding ceremony known as "Umgcagco" at his home in Nkandla, in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province, in this handout picture supplied by the Government Communication and Information Service, April 20, 2012. (Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

This past weekend President Jacob Zuma married a fourth wife, Gloria Bongi Ngema. She joins his three other wives, Sizakele, Nompumelelo, and Thobeka. The private ceremony took place at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, and, according to the press, Zuma paid all of the costs himself. Read more »

Guest Post: Kony 2012 “Cover the Night” a Flop?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, April 23, 2012
Supporters watch a projection that is part of the non-profit organization Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" viral video campaign in New York April 20, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters watch a projection that is part of the non-profit organization Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" viral video campaign in New York April 20, 2012. (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters)

Asch Harwood is the Africa program research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Update: I was recently interviewed on NPR’s “On the Media.” You can listen here. Read more »

Guest Post: Is Boko Haram Middle Class?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, April 20, 2012
A view of the scene of a bomb blast is seen in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A view of the scene of a bomb blast is seen in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012. (Stringer/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.

In his informative Financial Times piece, “BlackBerrys flourish in the malls of Lagos,” Xan Rice focuses mainly on blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion, the firm’s market outlook for Nigeria, and about what this tells us about Nigeria’s emerging middle class. Read more »

Nigeria: Ibori Goes to Jail

by John Campbell Thursday, April 19, 2012
Newspapers, with details of the sentencing of James Ibori, are seen on a a news-stand in Lagos April 18, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Newspapers, with details of the sentencing of James Ibori, are seen on a a news-stand in Lagos April 18, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Human Rights Watch and Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency are hailing the conviction and jailing of Nigerian “big man” James Ibori. A British court has sentenced the former governor of Delta state to jail for thirteen years for money laundering and associated crimes. Ibori pled guilty to numerous counts. The judge said that if he had fought the case, “he would be looking at twenty-four years but will get a discount for pleading guilty,” according to the press. Already in jail in the UK is his wife, his sister, his mistress, and his London solicitor, all convicted of related crimes. Read more »

In South Africa, What’s in a Name?

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Demonstrators protest against the proposed renaming of the South African capital Pretoria in this May 21, 2005. (Lerato Maduna/Courtesy Reuters) Demonstrators protest against the proposed renaming of the South African capital Pretoria in this May 21, 2005. (Lerato Maduna/Courtesy Reuters)

Since the coming of “non-racial democracy” in South Africa, ANC-led governing bodies especially at the local level have renamed numerous streets and other public facilities that formerly honored Afrikaner nationalists. Hence the country’s principal international airport at Johannesburg has been renamed to honor Oliver Tambo, a father of the ANC; it formerly was called Jan Smuts, after the twentieth century Afrikaner politician. Read more »

Syria Captures International Attention at the Expense of the Sahel

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 17, 2012
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (C) gestures next to WHO Director General Margaret Chan (L) and UNHCR Director general Antonio Guterres during a news conference on the crisis in the Sahel region at the United Nations in Geneva April 10, 2012. (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters) UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (C) gestures next to WHO Director General Margaret Chan (L) and UNHCR Director general Antonio Guterres during a news conference on the crisis in the Sahel region at the United Nations in Geneva April 10, 2012. (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters)

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said last week “The truth is that there is very little attention to the crisis in the Sahel. Most of the focus of the international committee has been on the Syria crisis.” Read more »