John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Compatibility Issues in Somalia: Governance and Economics

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, February 28, 2014
A truck drives through Bakara market in Mogadishu, October 5, 2013. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, program coordinator, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies program. 

Somalia continues to improve after a nearly a quarter century of war, but integrating economics and governance remains difficult. Read more »

Questions After the Slaughter in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell Thursday, February 27, 2014
Residents, who were injured during an attack by Boko Haram militants, wait at the Bama General Hospital in Bama, Borno State, February 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The Voice of America reports that the death toll from a “Boko Haram” attack on a federal government college the night of February 24-25 has reached fifty-nine. The method of the slaughter was characteristically horrific; the male students were deliberately locked into their dormitory and burned to death, those who tried to escape had their throats cut. The female students were unharmed but sent home with instructions to abandon western education and to find husbands. The campus appears to have been torched. Read more »

South Africa: Progress in HIV/AIDS

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 26, 2014
A member of Grandmothers Against Aids and Poverty (GAPA) takes part in an exercise class in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, February 23, 2010. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa has been ground zero in the HIV/AIDS tragedy. In 2011, about 5.6 million people were HIV positive, about 12 percent of South Africa’s population. According to the Economist, the HIV/AID disease burden was born disproportionately by blacks, 13 percent of whom were HIV positive. For Coloureds it was 3 percent; for whites, 1 percent. South African women also carry a disproportionate burden; they account for more than half of all new cases of infection. Read more »

Killings in Nigeria’s Plateau State

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 25, 2014
A family gathers around the grave, where three murdered family members were buried together, in Jos in Nigeria's Plateau state, December 28, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The radical Islamist insurrection in northern Nigeria gets most of the Western media attention, when it is not crowded out by the president’s recent “suspension” of Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank. But, ethnic and religious violence continues to bedevil the Middle Belt, especially Plateau state.  Read more »

Nigeria: War, Denial, and Corruption

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Monday, February 24, 2014
Soldiers stand guard following an attack in Kawuri, January 28, 2014. (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.

Civil war is raging in Nigeria’s northeast. Abuja says it is winning, but when Boko Haram attacks a military base, kills numerous soldiers and their dependents, then burns barracks to the ground, such claims strain credulity. The Army, long able to discourage direct confrontation, and since independence the country’s most durable national institution may be starting to unravel. In contrast, Boko Haram, firmly ensconced in the grassroots, remains robust. Moreover, they appear to have one-upped because they may be keeping their weapons inventory on mobile platforms, rather than in fixed caches. Moving “warehouses” are hard to destroy. Read more »

The Upcoming Elections South Africa and the Left

by John Campbell Friday, February 21, 2014
Election officials assist Khulasande Matabese, eighteen, as he registers to cast his ballot in elections scheduled for May 7 in Cape Town's Langa township, February 8, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Stephen Grootes, a political analyst writing in the Daily Maverick, observes that the “chattering classes” in South Africa seem to be fascinated by Julius Malema and his new, left-wing political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Will the party get up to 10 percent of the vote, presumably mostly at the expense of the ruling African National Congress (ANC)? Grootes doubts it, but at present he thinks that it will get more than the 1 percent that he predicted last year. Read more »

Lamido Sanusi Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor in Bombshell “Suspension”

by John Campbell Thursday, February 20, 2014
Nigeria's central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London, October 30, 2013. (Stefan Wermuth/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday ordered the immediate suspension of Lamido Sanusi, the governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank. According to the BBC, Reuters, and the Financial Times, trading in Nigeria’s foreign exchange, bond, and money markets, halted due to uncertainty over the president’s move. How long trading will be halted and what the consequences will be remains to be seen. Read more »

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on “Reforming Nigeria”

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala address the audience on the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration while delivering the mid-term report during Democracy Day celebrations in Abuja, May 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Stuart Reid published in the current issue of Foreign Affairs a fascinating interview with Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The finance minister was educated at Harvard and MIT and is a former vice president of the World Bank. More recently she was a candidate for the presidency of the World Bank. International investors and business people associate her with many or most of Nigeria’s economic reforms in the administrations of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. She is probably much more popular outside of Nigeria than at home, where her reforms have gored many oxes. Read more »

A Nigerian in the Winter Olympics?

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Matthew Antoine of the United States competes in the men's skeleton event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014. (Fabrizio Bensch/Courtesy Reuters)

For an inspiring if also heartbreaking story, check out Drew Hinshaw’s Wall Street Journal piece on Seun Adebiyi, a Nigerian with a Yale law degree, and Wall Street experience who tried to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and compete in the Skeleton event. From all of sub-Saharan Africa, only three athletes qualified for the Sochi Olympics; they are from Togo and Zimbabwe. A Ghanaian and a South African came close to qualifying. In the end, Seun Adebiyi was defeated by funding shortages, stem cell leukemia/lymphoma, and finally a torn Achilles tendon. Read more »

The Central African Republic: Where Elections Could Do More Harm Than Good

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, February 14, 2014
(L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; and imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui, February 10, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Elections are often seen as progress toward democracy in Africa. Elections confer legitimacy on governments, especially abroad. However, in some conflicts, conducting elections credible enough to confer legitimacy is an unrealistic goal. Instead there are “election-like-events.” These may even exacerbate internal cleavages within a society. Rushing into elections in the Central African Republic will not resolve the breakdown of order there and could make it worse. Read more »