John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Lord’s Resistance Army and Elephant Poaching

by John Campbell Friday, May 31, 2013
Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, September 19, 2006. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported to the UN Security Council Group of Experts, who monitor the Libyan arms embargo, that Joseph Koney and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are funding themselves through elephant poaching, as are other armed rebel groups. He commented that Libyan heavy weapons, formerly in Muammar Ghaddafi’s Libyan arsenal, and now scattered prolifically across sub-Saharan conflict areas, are making the poachers more efficient. His report added weight to the growing security concerns associated with elephant poaching, especially across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more »

South African Land Reform: A Conundrum

by John Campbell Thursday, May 30, 2013
Harvesters transport a load of wild Rooibos tea by donkey cart in the remote mountains of the Cedarberg region, about 300km (186 miles) north of [Cape Town], March 30, 2006. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

The Africa Research Institute has published a succinct Briefing Note that outlines the problems of land reform in South Africa and the inherent contradictions in the government’s approach. The Briefer also includes an excellent map of the agricultural regions in the country from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Read more »

Agriculture, Structural Change and the Urban Imperative in African Development

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Street traders covers stalls with umbrellas along abandoned railway line in Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt December 3, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/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.

There has been increased discussion of late on repositioning development economics, structural issues, and the role of the state in the thinking and investments of developing and donor countries. Continental institutions in Africa, including the African Union Commission, African Development Bank, New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), and UN Economic Commission for Africa are rethinking the decades-long deference to the wisdom of the marketplace and the commercialization of its sectoral interests. This was recently reflected at a USAID Alumni Association forum in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Center. Read more »

Carrots and Sticks in Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, May 28, 2013
A woman walks past burnt houses in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

President Jonathan announced last week that some “Boko Haram” captives will be released. The first will be women and children. The Jonathan administration is saying that the release is on the recommendation of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in Northern Nigeria—the committee established by the president to explore modalities for talks and an “amnesty” for Boko Haram. Those released will be handed over to their governors “for further rehabilitation before the suspects were released to their respective community leaders and relations.” Read more »

Mapping the Nigerian State of Emergency

by John Campbell Friday, May 24, 2013
Soldiers from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola May 20, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Emily Mellgard coauthored this post. Emily is the Africa research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Information about the state of emergency in the three northern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa comes almost exclusively from government sources. Cell phones no longer operate and there are few journalists in the area; though some have been able to make contact with refugees fleeing across the border into Cameroon and Niger. The government claims that as many as 2,000 troops were deployed within twenty-four hours of President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of the state of emergency. They are accompanied by air and ground support, including military jets, helicopters, and tanks. But we cannot confirm these claims from independent sources. The troops appear to have been compiled from those already deployed in other parts of Nigeria, Mali, and Liberia. Read more »

Difficulties of Defining and Mapping Ethnicity

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, May 23, 2013
Youths from the Bagisu tribe escort Ronald Makwankwa (not in the picture) after his circumcision ceremony in Mbale, 220 km (136 miles) east of the Ugandan capital of Kampala, August 12, 2008. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

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 »

Tracking the Traffickers: Eradicating Rhinos

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Policeman look on as a protester carries a placard calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species, outside the Chinese embassy in Pretoria September 22, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Demand for rhino horn increased exponentially over the past few years. The market is heavily concentrated in Asia, particularly Vietnam. Rhino poaching has leapt to keep pace with demand. South Africa’s rhinos are among the most affected. According to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), in 2010, 2011, and 2012, the number of rhinos killed for their horns went from 333 to 448 to 668. So far in 2013, 216 rhinos have been poached in South Africa’s Kruger national park alone. That is more death the past five months than in the years 2000-2008 combined. The rhino population in Mozambique, which was wiped out by large game hunters a century ago and later reintroduced to the national parks, has again been eradicated; this time with the connivance of some of Mozambique’s own rangers. Read more »

University Students to Learn Zulu in South Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A student is seen in a school in Johannesburg January 27, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has announced that starting next year, all entering students must study Zulu. Zulu is spoken by perhaps a quarter of South Africa’s population and the extensiveness of its use is probably second only to Afrikaans. However, it is an exceptionally difficult language for adults to learn, and few whites, coloreds, or Asians do so. Read more »

U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to Mali

by John Campbell Monday, May 20, 2013
People walking down the street are seen through a large tyre in Gao March 12, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

At the Mali Donors Conference in Brussels on May 15 the United States announced $32 million in new humanitarian assistance to support Malian refugees in neighboring countries and to the internally displaced. The same day, the U.S. Department of State spokesman said that the Obama administration will request from Congress $180 million in FY 2014 for bilateral assistance. That funding would kick-in after the Mali elections, scheduled to take place in July. Read more »

The New Niger Delta Action Plan: One More Missed Opportunity?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, May 17, 2013
A door is pictured near an oil spillage site in Ikarama community, Bayelsa state in Nigeria's delta region August 20, 2011. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Dr. Deirdre LaPin, co-author of Securing Development and Peace in the Niger Delta (Woodrow Wilson Center, 2011) and a longstanding resident and development expert on Nigeria. Read more »