John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Unrest at South African Universities

by John Campbell Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Students at the Durban University of Technology march as countrywide protests demanding free tertiary education continue, in Durban, South Africa, September 26, 2016.  (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Students at the Durban University of Technology march as countrywide protests demanding free tertiary education continue, in Durban, South Africa, September 26, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Those universities commonly regarded as the best in South Africa have been roiled by student unrest over the past two years. First, it was protests against the symbols of imperialism and racism such as the statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Then in October 2015, protests over university fees and tuition hikes began. After reaching a settlement last year the university fees and tuition have been raised once again, inciting major student protests. The students are now calling to make university education free. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Shekau is Back Again

by John Campbell Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The purported leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau appears at an unknown location in a still image taken from an undated video posted on social media on September 25, 2016. (Reuters) The purported leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau appears at an unknown location in a still image taken from an undated video posted on social media on September 25, 2016. (Reuters)

The Nigeria Security Tracker shows a significant fall in Boko Haram activity over the past year. Following peaks in 2014 and 2015, the levels of violence associated with Boko Haram have returned to the level of 2011. The self-proclaimed Islamic State apparently demoted Abubakar Shekau from his leadership position of the organization’s West African province. Shekau ostensibly accepted the demotion—he did not revoke his allegiance—and returned to the imam title he formerly used. The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed that it has killed or seriously wounded Shekau, most recently after an August 23 airstrike. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: September 17 – September 23

by John Campbell Monday, September 26, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from September 17, 2016 to September 23, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Violence and Population Displacement in Africa

by John Campbell Friday, September 23, 2016
A man waits to receive food provided by the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) during a visit by a European Union delegation, at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Azaza, east of Ad Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state, Sudan, October 21, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) A man waits to receive food provided by the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) during a visit by a European Union delegation, at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Azaza, east of Ad Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state, Sudan, October 21, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) has published a useful map showing the top ten countries in Africa for population displacement. It finds that 71 percent of the continent’s 18.5 million displaced are from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It observes that each of the five are experiencing serious conflict, and that of the top 10, nine are autocratically governed. (Nigeria is the exception, with credible elections in 2015 that brought opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari to the presidency.) Read more »

Life in Nigeria’s Maiduguri during the Boko Haram Struggle

by John Campbell Thursday, September 22, 2016
A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

What was it actually like to live in Maiduguri, one of Nigeria’s larger cities, and ground zero during the Boko Haram assault? Official restrictions on the media and all but non-existent security meant no stream of reporting akin to that of, say, Edward R. Murrow and many other journalists during the London blitz of World War II. There are no photographs of Maiduguri of the genre of St. Paul’s dome floating above the smoke of a burning London. Read more »

Famine in Northeast Nigeria

by John Campbell Wednesday, September 21, 2016
A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, uses a mortar and pestle at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, uses a mortar and pestle at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Michelle Faul, writing for AP, reports on the horrific famine now underway in Northeast Nigeria. She quotes Doctors without Borders as characterizing the crisis as “catastrophic.” She also quotes an American midwife who runs a feeding center as saying “These are kids that basically have been hungry all their lives, and some are so far gone that they die here in the first 24 hours.” Read more »

Africa’s Changing Economic Landscape

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, September 20, 2016
A truck is loaded with bags of tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis) A truck is loaded with bags of tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

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

Bloomberg Markets’ Michael Cohen and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura have analyzed the current state of Africa’s economies in a very interesting article. They point out that despite the current poor performance of Africa’s larger economies (particularly Nigeria and South Africa), some of the continent’s smaller economies, especially in East Africa, are doing well and will likely continue to do so. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: September 10 – September 16

by John Campbell Monday, September 19, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from September 10, 2016 to September 16, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

‘Bling’ and the Nigerian Political Class

by John Campbell Friday, September 16, 2016
A Nigerian man looks at a vehicle by German car maker Porsche in Lagos, March 14, 2012. (Reuters/Monica Mark) A Nigerian man looks at a vehicle by German car maker Porsche in Lagos, March 14, 2012. (Reuters/Monica Mark)

Nigeria is famous for the delight in display taken by the governing class and the rich. Hence, native dress for women and men is made of rich fabrics and bedecked with jewelry, residences often have gold-plated taps, and, at one point, the Hummer appeared to be the vehicle of choice. Read more »

Elephants in Greater Danger Than Previously Thought

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, September 15, 2016
A bird flies over a family of elephants walking in the Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A bird flies over a family of elephants walking in the Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

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

On August 31, The Great Elephant Census announced  disturbing news: the African savannah elephant population is  approximately 350,000, down from about 470,000, The study showed a 30 percent decline in the population between 2007 and 2014. This represents an 8 percent annual decrease in savannah elephant numbers, largely due to poaching. Read more »