John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Mali Descends into Hell

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Members of a self-defense militia calling itself the FLN (Front for the Liberation of the North) train in Sevare, about 600 kms (400 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako, July 11, 2012. (Reuters Staff/Courtesy Reuters) Members of a self-defense militia calling itself the FLN (Front for the Liberation of the North) train in Sevare, about 600 kms (400 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako, July 11, 2012. (Reuters Staff/Courtesy Reuters)

Under the best of circumstances, life for Malians has been hard for millennia. The country faces recurrent drought and the Sahara encroaches. The social and economic statistics are poor. That in part was why the country’s stable governance for two decades was so remarkable, and its subsequent collapse such a tragedy. Read more »

Guest Post: Poaching Threatens Central African Security

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, July 30, 2012
Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Members of the Pilanesberg National Park Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) stand guard as conservationists and police investigate the scene of a rhino poaching incident April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Owen Cylke. Mr. Cylke is a development professional and a retired senior foreign service officer with USAID.

Despite some progress on improving security in Central Africa, the continuing smuggling of weapons and the movement of refugees and internally displaced persons continue to threaten the integrity of countries across the region. Less noted, but no less important, is the role that wildlife poaching plays in this perilous circumstance. Read more »

Ghana Burnishes its Democratic Credentials

by John Campbell Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ghanaian President John Atta Mills attends a ceremony marking the first flow of oil from the Jubilee offshore oil field, at Takoradi, Ghana, December 15, 2010. (Reuters staff/Courtesy Reuters) Ghanaian President John Atta Mills attends a ceremony marking the first flow of oil from the Jubilee offshore oil field, at Takoradi, Ghana, December 15, 2010. (Reuters staff/Courtesy Reuters)

President of Ghana John Atta Mills died July 24. Though never officially confirmed, it was said that he suffered from throat cancer and he went to New York several times for medical treatment. The immediate cause of death at a military hospital was cardiac arrest. The chief justice immediately swore-in as president the former Vice president, John Dramani Mahama. He will serve until the regularly scheduled December presidential elections. Read more »

Guest Post: At Victory Temple, “Leading By Example, Not By Doctorate”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, July 25, 2012
RCCG Pastor Lagosian Shina Enitan at Victory Temple courtesy Jim Sanders, Alexandria, Virginia, July 24, 2012. RCCG Pastor Lagosian Shina Enitan at Victory Temple courtesy Jim Sanders, Alexandria, Virginia, July 24, 2012.

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.

Why am I  running a guest post on a Nigerian church in Alexandria, Virginia?  We sometimes overlook West Africa’s growing and vibrant social and cultural influence in the United States.  Jim Sanders recently visited a Redeemed Christian Church of God parish and interviewed the Nigerian pastor. The conversation provides fascinating insights into a Nigerian community in suburban Washington, D.C. and  also into aspects of Nigerian religious sensibility at home. His post  provides an opportunity for we Americans to “see ourselves as others see us.” Read more »

Nigerian President’s Wife Appointed Permanent Secretary of Bayelsa State

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and his wife Patience attend the inauguration of the new African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and his wife Patience attend the inauguration of the new African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)

On July 11, Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson appointed President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife Patience as permanent secretary of the state government. The appointment has provoked angry criticism. One commentator compares the governor with Caligula in the arbitrary use of his powers of appointment. Another criticism, noting the first lady’s powerful role in the Jonathan administration, raises questions about chains of authority in the Bayelsa state government; as a practical matter, Mrs. Jonathan is far more powerful than the state commissioner to whom she nominally reports. The writer also raises the question of whether she has been a “ghost worker” (receiving a salary without performing duties.) Read more »

Guest Post: South Sudan’s Poisonous Corruption

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, July 23, 2012
A woman holds her child in a cave in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, April 28, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) A woman holds her child in a cave in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, April 28, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

Andrew C. Miller is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relation’s Center for Preventive Action. He can be found on Twitter @andrewmiller802.

South Sudan just celebrated its first birthday, but in the words of one South Sudanese blogger, the nascent country is “screwed up.” Fears that the state’s institutions are already failing could be well-founded if the government doesn’t address systemic problems. No one factor explains the state’s fragility, but it’s widely recognized that corruption has eroded South Sudanese confidence in their government. Read more »

Who Owns the Land in South Africa?

by John Campbell Thursday, July 19, 2012
Farm workers are seen at a farm in Eikeihof outside Johannesburg September 30, 2008. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Farm workers are seen at a farm in Eikeihof outside Johannesburg September 30, 2008. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

At the just-concluded African National Congress (ANC) policy conference, the issue of land reform surfaced – but did not really go anywhere. There was a call for “review” of the principle of “willing seller, willing buyer,” and delegates complained that the pace of land redistribution has been glacial. As was true of virtually all of the other important policy issues, serious discussion of reform was postponed. The conference was mostly concerned with politicking, as rivals President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgakema Motlanthe and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale jostled for advantage, looking toward the December conference where the ANC will elect its top leadership. Read more »

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and South Africa’s HIV/AIDS Past

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 18, 2012
South African diplomat and doctor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arrives at the leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, July 16, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) South African diplomat and doctor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arrives at the leaders meeting at the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, July 16, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

More people are living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa than in any other country, according to UNAIDS. It is about 11 percent of the total population, 17.18 percent of the population aged 15-49 years. There has been progress, but HIV/AIDS remains a salient feature of the South Africa landscape. Its effect on the most productive part of the population is devastating. Read more »

Guest Post: Nigeria and the United States: “Ribbon of Hardship, Ribbon of Darkness”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters) Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (George Esiri/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 this recent expose, Esme E. Deprez documents an area of high economic inequality in the U.S.: namely, the Bridgeport, Connecticut metro area. There, Interstate 95 is likened to “a ribbon of hardship,” in contrast to the prosperous communities of Greenwich and Westport. She says, “The area’s history of institutional corruption and ineffectual management has only added to its problems.” Deprez cites a source as stating: “When difficult decisions need to be made, the already diminishing resources for individuals at the bottom are the first to go.” As a result, economic mobility suffers. Read more »

Guest Post: The Sack of Timbuktu

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, July 16, 2012
A Tuareg nomad stands near the 13th century mosque at Timbuktu, Mali, where U.S. Special Forces have been training the Malian army to better police the Sahara Desert, March 19, 2004. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) A Tuareg nomad stands near the 13th century mosque at Timbuktu, Mali, where U.S. Special Forces have been training the Malian army to better police the Sahara Desert, March 19, 2004. (Luc Gnago/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 »