John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Is Nigeria’s Boko Haram Becoming Territorial?

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A woman from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, weeps at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A woman from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, weeps at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Unlike other radical Islamist groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Nigeria’s Boko Haram has not yet moved to establish a territorial state, nor to provide government services. That may be changing.

The Wall Street Journal and the BBC are reporting that Boko Haram has taken over the strategic town of Damboa, the capital of the Damboa local government area in Borno state, and has raised its black flag over the house of the traditional ruler and in nearby villages. The BBC reports that Boko Haram has established check points around the town and is levying a fee for vehicles to pass. That would imply that it is seeking sources of revenue beyond kidnapping, extortion, or bank robberies. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update July 12 – July 18

by John Campbell Monday, July 21, 2014
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 July 11 to July 18, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Bringing Solar Power and Hope to the DRC

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, July 17, 2014
War-orphaned children sit in cardboard boxes at the Kizito orphanage in Bunia in northeastern Congo, February 24, 2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) War-orphaned children sit in cardboard boxes at the Kizito orphanage in Bunia in northeastern Congo, February 24, 2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, former 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. Read more »

South Africa: Missions, Transformation, and the Legacy of Apartheid

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Anglican altar server Akin Ajayi, eleven, waits in the church as people attend a special Sunday morning service dedicated to Nelson Mandela at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, December 8, 2013. (Mark Wessels/Courtesy Reuters) Anglican altar server Akin Ajayi, eleven, waits in the church as people attend a special Sunday morning service dedicated to Nelson Mandela at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, December 8, 2013. (Mark Wessels/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.

Tom and Dorothy Linthicum spoke at Christ Church in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia last Sunday about their experiences in South Africa. They recently returned from a year of teaching, preaching, and listening in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, at the College of the Transfiguration, the only residential Anglican seminary in southern Africa. Read more »

Two African Obituaries: Dikko and Gordimer

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Novelist Nadine Gordimer was among about 300 white liberals who visited
Alexandra, the black township near Johannesburg on May 18, 1986 to lay
wreaths at the grave of victims of political unrest. (Reuters photographer/Courtesy Reuters) Novelist Nadine Gordimer was among about 300 white liberals who visited Alexandra, the black township near Johannesburg on May 18, 1986 to lay wreaths at the grave of victims of political unrest. (Reuters photographer/Courtesy Reuters)

On July 14, the New York Times carried the obituary of Umaru Dikko, a former Nigerian minister accused of corruption who was once the subject of a kidnap attempt. On July 15, it carried an obituary of Nadine Gordimer, the South African author who became a major anti-apartheid icon. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update July 5 – July 11

by John Campbell Monday, July 14, 2014
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 July 5 to July 11, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

South Africa’s Mamphela Ramphele Leaves Politics

by John Campbell Thursday, July 10, 2014
Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Mamphela Ramphele, the founder of the political party AgangSA (Agang is the northern Sotho word for ‘build’) in 2013, announced on July 8 that she is leaving politics. Read more »

Immunity for African Leaders?

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters) Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters)

African elites generally do not like the International Criminal Court (ICC) that sits in the Hague. There is a widespread view that the ICC engages in selective prosecution and holds African leaders to a higher standard than others.

Africans ask why the ICC prosecutes Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, but not former vice president Dick Cheney or former prime minister Tony Blair for Iraq-related issues, for example. There have been calls for immunity for African heads of state that are wanted for international crimes. The ICC cases against President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have particularly focused the debate, and Kenya may withdraw from the Treaty of Rome, which established the ICC. Read more »

Nigeria: Kidnapping and Escape of Women and Girls

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Campaigners attend a speak-out session for the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign in the rain near Nigeria's Lagos Marina, July 5, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Campaigners attend a speak-out session for the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign in the rain near Nigeria's Lagos Marina, July 5, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Western attention continues to focus on the kidnapping of up to three hundred school girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. There has been an international outcry and offers of assistance from Western countries. The United States offered surveillance aircraft and unmanned drones. Nevertheless, the girls have not been located, much less rescued. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 28 – July 4

by John Campbell Monday, July 7, 2014
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 June 28 to July 4, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »