John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

South African Court Convicts Nigerian Terrorist

by John Campbell Friday, March 29, 2013
Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah (L) gestures as he is escorted by police after his sentencing was postponed at a Johannesburg court February 28, 2013. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters). Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah (L) gestures as he is escorted by police after his sentencing was postponed at a Johannesburg court February 28, 2013. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters).

A South African judge has sentenced Henry Okah, a Nigerian citizen, to twenty-four years in jail for twin car bombings in 2010. The bombings took place in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja on the fiftieth anniversary of the country’s independence. According to the Nigerian press, at least twelve people were killed and thirty-eight were wounded in the attack. Read more »

“Argo” and “Third-World Rage”

by John Campbell Thursday, March 28, 2013
Director and producer Ben Affleck accepts the Oscar for best picture for "Argo" at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 24, 2013. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters) Director and producer Ben Affleck accepts the Oscar for best picture for "Argo" at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 24, 2013. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters)

The celebrated historical-thriller “Argo,” directed by Ben Affleck, tells the story of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. It has been a critical and commercial success. The film won three academy awards, including “Best Picture” at the 2013 Academy Awards in February. Read more »

Why the U.S. Military Should Care About African Opposition Parties

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, March 27, 2013
A general view shows the eight Kenyan presidential candidates (L-R) James Ole Kiyiapi, Musalia Mudavadi, Paul Muite, Martha Karua, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Mohammed Dida, Uhuru Kenyatta and Peter Kenneth attending the second presidential debate at Brookhouse School in Kenya's capital Nairobi, February 25, 2013. (Joan Pereruan/Courtesy Reuters) A general view shows the eight Kenyan presidential candidates (L-R) James Ole Kiyiapi, Musalia Mudavadi, Paul Muite, Martha Karua, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Mohammed Dida, Uhuru Kenyatta and Peter Kenneth attending the second presidential debate at Brookhouse School in Kenya's capital Nairobi, February 25, 2013. (Joan Pereruan/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Catherine Kelly, a Ph.D. candidate in Government at Harvard University; and Jason Warner, a Ph.D. student in African Studies and Government at Harvard University.

Sub-Saharan Africa is an increasingly important theater of operation for the U.S. military. From al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and Ansar Dine, the Department of Defense is recognizing that Africa will be a vital strategic battlefield in the next century. Read more »

South Africa: Ascendant African Growth Engine?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Men hold placards offering temporal employment services in Glenvista, south of Johannesburg, October 7, 2010. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Men hold placards offering temporal employment services in Glenvista, south of Johannesburg, October 7, 2010. (Siphiwe Sibeko/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.

John Kane-Berman, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations and South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, on March 14, spoke at the Cato Institute on South Africa’s future under the African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Mediating Mali’s Future by Returning to Its Past

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, March 25, 2013
Ethnic Tuareg Malian soldiers, under the command of Col. El Hadj Ag Gamou, occupy a former petrol station in Gao March 4, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Ethnic Tuareg Malian soldiers, under the command of Col. El Hadj Ag Gamou, occupy a former petrol station in Gao March 4, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Kyle Benjamin Schneps; a dual master’s degree candidate at Columbia University specializing in international security policy and global health initiatives. He is currently completing a graduate internship with the Africa Studies program at Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: Alarming Trends in Ivory Smuggling

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, March 22, 2013
An illegal consignment of five tonnes of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters) An illegal consignment of five tonnes of Ivory confiscated from smugglers is destroyed during the African Elephant Law Enforcement Day in Tsavo West National Park, 380 km (236 miles) east of capital Nairobi July 20, 2011. (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The illegal trade in “bloody teeth,” the name traffickers have given ivory, reached new heights in 2012. According to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, more than 32,000 elephants were killed in Africa in 2012 alone to supply the growing demand in ivory. This is a higher number than at any point since the international ivory trade ban was implemented in 1989. Read more »

The BBC and Nigerian Islamist Terror

by John Campbell Thursday, March 21, 2013
DATE IMPORTED:August 4, 2009A girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along a street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 4, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) DATE IMPORTED:August 4, 2009A girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along a street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 4, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Northern Nigeria is a dangerous place. Even President Goodluck Jonathan waited to make his first visit to Yobe and Borno states until earlier this month, almost two years into his presidential term. Western journalists rarely visit there, and diplomatic travel by Western embassies appears to be limited. Information about the Islamist insurrection—labeled “Boko Haram”—largely comes from Nigerian commentators. There may also be the temptation among Americans who follow Africa to become fatigued over the violence. Read more »

The Growing Crisis in Central African Republic

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia (L), leader of Central African Republic's Seleka rebel alliance, attends peace talks with delegations representing the government and the opposition in Libreville January 9, 2013. (Levis Boussougou/Courtesy Reuters). Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia (L), leader of Central African Republic's Seleka rebel alliance, attends peace talks with delegations representing the government and the opposition in Libreville January 9, 2013. (Levis Boussougou/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Kyle Benjamin Schneps, a dual master’s degree candidate at Columbia University specializing in international security policy and global health initiatives. He is currently completing a graduate internship with the Africa Studies program at Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

An African Agenda for President Obama

by John Campbell Tuesday, March 19, 2013
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) jokes with patients and staff of the Heal Africa clinic in Goma August 11, 2009. (Roberto Schmidt/Courtesy Reuters) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) jokes with patients and staff of the Heal Africa clinic in Goma August 11, 2009. (Roberto Schmidt/Courtesy Reuters)

There is criticism in Africa and in the United States that, given Africa’s growing strategic, political, and economic importance, President Obama paid insufficient attention to it during his first term. In fact, the Obama administration has many program initiatives in Africa; and cabinet officers, led by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regularly visited the continent. During her four year tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton visited Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Benin, Somalia, South Africa, Kenya, and Malawi, among others. Read more »

Rising HIV and “Sugar Daddies” in Uganda

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, March 18, 2013
A mural on the side of an academic building on the campus of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. June 2009. (Courtesy Brooke Bocast) A mural on the side of an academic building on the campus of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. June 2009. (Courtesy Brooke Bocast)

This is a guest post by Brooke Bocast, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Temple University and a visiting predoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on gender, consumption, and higher education in Uganda. Read more »