John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka “Disengages” from the United States

by John Campbell Friday, December 9, 2016
Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, says he has “torn up” his green card and left the United States to return to Nigeria. Soyinka’s act is in protest against the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. During the campaign, Soyinka had said that he would leave the United States if Trump were elected. As reported in the British media, Soyinka said “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” (Holders of a green card are alien permanent residents of the United States with most of the privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to freely travel abroad.) Read more »

Mobile Phones, the Internet, and South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, December 8, 2016
A worker walks past cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A worker walks past cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) Centre for Risk Analysis has published a study that shows the dramatic increase in mobile phone usage in South Africa and its importance as a portal to internet usage. During the 2000-2014 period, fixed line subscriptions per one hundred people dropped by 38 percent while mobile phone subscriptions increased by 702 percent. The increase affected all races, but the growth is especially striking among ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ South Africans. For Black South Africans it was 405.3 percent; for ‘Coloureds’ it was 763.6 percent; for ‘Indians’ it was 708.3 percent; for Whites it was 470.6 percent. The lower rate of increase among Blacks may reflect the higher levels of poverty among that demographic. Among whites, the lower level may reflect that many of them have long had access to land lines and to cell phones, resulting in a lower rate of usage growth. Read more »

Development of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, December 7, 2016
A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Reuters/Tiksa Neger) A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Reuters/Tiksa Neger)

This is a guest post by Caila Glickman, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations’ department of Global Health. Caila is currently a pre-med student at Oberlin College studying chemistry and international relations. Her interests are in medicine, environmental science, and international law. Read more »

S&P Leaves South Africa’s Bond Rating Unchanged

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 6, 2016
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, December 4, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, December 4, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Standard & Poor (S&P), the international credit rating agency, left its assessment of South Africa’s foreign-currency debt unchanged. It remains at the same level as Italy’s and India’s. However, it did lower South Africa’s local-currency rating, which remains above “junk.” On the S&P news, the South African currency, the Rand, rose 1.6 percent against the U.S. dollar, and yields of rand-denominated government bonds fell nine basis points to 9.02 percent. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: November 26 – December 2

by John Campbell Monday, December 5, 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 November 26, 2016 to December 2, 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 »

Nigerian Military Massacres Civilians – Again

by John Campbell Friday, December 2, 2016
Policemen stand guard as supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu take in a rally, as he is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 1, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Policemen stand guard as supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu take in a rally, as he is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 1, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Amnesty International has published a report claiming that the Nigerian military killed some 150 pro-Biafra demonstrators between August 2015 and August 2016. Amnesty analyzed 87 videos, 122 photographs, and took the testimony of 146 witnesses. It concludes that “the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning” into crowds of demonstrators. Amnesty also has “evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces” of demonstrators calling for an independent Igbo state. Despite official military denials, the Amnesty report, like  other reports of Nigerian military abuse, is credible. Read more »

World AIDS Day 2016 in South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, December 1, 2016
Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Thursday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a fitting occasion to call attention to an HIV vaccine clinical trial that has started in South Africa. The vaccine being tested is based on one used in a Thailand trial in 2009 which had a protection rate of about 30 percent, reports the BBC. Results from the South Africa trial will be known in about four years. Read more »

A Reminder that South Africa’s Ruling Party is Multiracial

by John Campbell Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom appears to have been the initiator of the African National Congress’s (ANC) November 27-29 in-house debate over whether to recall Jacob Zuma as party leader. (Zuma survived, but is further weakened politically within the ANC by the episode.) Hanekom, who is white, is a useful reminder that the ANC remains a multi-racial party, though its electoral base is overwhelmingly black. In the aftermath of the ANC’s Zuma debate, some black political officials that backed the president accused Hanekom of “racism,” but others defended him as a full member of the movement, even though he is white. Read more »

South Africa’s Wounded President Zuma Survives

by John Campbell Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Over the weekend of November 27, Jacob Zuma faced his greatest political challenge to date, a vote of ‘no-confidence’ from within his own party, the African National Congress (ANC). He had previously survived three no-confidence votes in parliament, where the party rallied around him. This time, however, the challenge, orchestrated by four ministers, was within the National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest governance body within the ANC. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: November 19 – November 25

by John Campbell Monday, November 28, 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 November 19, 2016 to November 25, 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 »