John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Zimbabwe and Nigeria: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Most Corrupt of Them All?

by John Campbell Friday, April 18, 2014
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km ( 50 miles) east of the capital Harare, February 23, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Robert Mugabe, the poster boy for bad governance in Africa, said last month that Zimbabweans were behaving “like Nigerians” with respect to bribes and corruption. This, he implied, is not a good thing. Read more »

Boko Haram Kidnaps Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell Thursday, April 17, 2014
A school girl walks past a burnt building in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 3, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuteres) A school girl walks past a burnt building in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, August 3, 2009. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuteres)

A Boko Haram warlord Abubakar Shekau, in his latest video reiterated his war on western education, as well as calling for antigovernment operations throughout Nigeria, with specific reference to Abuja, Lagos, and oil producing areas. Over the past month, there have been successful large-scale operations against the security services in Maiduguri (Giwa Barracks, March 14), in Abuja (an attack on the State Security Services’ headquarters, March 30) and the attack on the Abuja suburb bus station on April 14. At the same time, there are reports of numerous, smaller Boko Haram operations. Read more »

South Sudan Conflict: Personalities, Resources, and Threats

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Rebel fighters walk in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State February 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) Rebel fighters walk in a rebel controlled territory in Upper Nile State February 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

In March, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international organization that represents east African nations, announced plans to deploy a stabilization and protection force to South Sudan by mid-April. As of April 1, IGAD also announced that peace talks between the warring factions in South Sudan were suspended for a month. There is no update on the development of the stabilization force. Read more »

American “Quality” Press and Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Crowd gather at the scene of a bomb blast at a bus terminal in Nyayan, Abuja April 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Crowd gather at the scene of a bomb blast at a bus terminal in Nyayan, Abuja April 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On April 15, arguably the most influential of the American print press carried the story of the horrific April 14 bombings in Abuja. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post among others all had stories or photographs on their front pages. Read more »

Weekly Map of Political and Ethnic Violence in Nigeria

by John Campbell Monday, April 14, 2014
Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Bomb experts search for evidences in front of buses at a bomb blast scene at Nyanyan in Abuja April 14, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Holy Week in Nigeria is off to an ugly start. A bomb detonated during rush hour at a bus station in Abuja’s suburb Nyana on April 14, killed at least seventy-one people, destroyed at least sixteen “luxury buses” and twenty-four mini buses. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility, but it has the marks of a “Boko Haram” operation. Read more »

Medicines Sans Frontiers Critical of UN Mission in South Sudan

by John Campbell Friday, April 11, 2014
People displaced by recent fighting wait to get water inside a United Nations Mission in South Sudan  camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State March 3, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) People displaced by recent fighting wait to get water inside a United Nations Mission in South Sudan camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State March 3, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

Medicines sans Frontiers (MSF –“Doctors Without Borders”) issued a detailed criticism of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for its alleged failure to improve conditions at the Tomping displaced persons camp in Juba. UNMISS is trying close the camp and remove the displaced persons elsewhere. This will pose logistical challenges during the rainy season, now underway. Read more »

Weekly Incidents of Violence in Nigeria

by John Campbell Thursday, April 10, 2014
Lanterns hang on the wall in a house where gunmen locked in forty-two people and set it on fire, in Angwan Gata, Kaura Local Government Kaduna State March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Lanterns hang on the wall in a house where gunmen locked in forty-two people and set it on fire, in Angwan Gata, Kaura Local Government Kaduna State March 20, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) project has developed a new infographic: “Weekly Incidents.” I anticipate publishing this new infographic weekly to show incidents of political violence on a more geographically precise and timely basis. It builds on the NST. The methodology and the definitions of the NST and “Weekly Incidents” are the same. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Stonewalls on Corruption Charges

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 9, 2014
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African president Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla January 11, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African president Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla January 11, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa’s Public Protector stated in a recent report that taxpayer money funded improvements to Nkandla, President Jacob Zuma’s private estate. The public protector found this “unconscionable, excessive, and caused a misappropriation of public funds.” President Zuma made his first public comment on March 31, in remarks carried by a TV station. He said, “I never did anything wrong.” In effect, he is blaming his subordinates within the governing African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Tracking South Africa’s Democracy in Real Time

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, April 8, 2014
A search of FACTIVA’s database revealed preliminary evidence that reporting on service delivery protests has been increasing since the early 2000s, with a sharp downturn in 2013. However, this data is limited by internal factors such as FACTIVA’s addition of new sources and external factors like the media’s use of the term “service delivery protest.”
Source: FACTIVA A search of FACTIVA’s database revealed preliminary evidence that reporting on service delivery protests has been increasing since the early 2000s, with a sharp downturn in 2013. However, this data is limited by internal factors such as FACTIVA’s addition of new sources and external factors like the media’s use of the term “service delivery protest.” Source: FACTIVA

This is a guest post by Le Chen, Janice Dean, Jesper Frant, and Rachana Kumar. They are Master of Public Administration students at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs. They are working with Ambassador John Campbell on a graduate practicum project, which was made possible by faculty adviser Professor Anne Nelson. A longer version of this post appeared on the World Policy Blog. Read more »

Nigeria is Officially “Africa’s Largest Economy”

by John Campbell Monday, April 7, 2014
Trucks are seen parked around an automobile workshop overlooking the Lagos business district at the Orile-Iganmu in Lagos August 29, 2013. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Trucks are seen parked around an automobile workshop overlooking the Lagos business district at the Orile-Iganmu in Lagos August 29, 2013. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

On April 6, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that after “rebasing,” Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) almost doubled to U.S. $509.9 billion. That figure is dramatically larger than South Africa’s 2013 GDP of $370.3 billion, and bestows on Nigeria the bragging rights of being the largest economy in Africa. Read more »