John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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A Caliphate in Northeastern Nigeria?

by John Campbell
Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014. Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014.

Boko Haram chieftain Abubakar Shekau has announced in a video released on August 24 that the Borno town of Gwoza is now part of a caliphate and will be ruled according to strict Islamic law. The Nigerian Ministry of Defense denies that Boko Haram controls the town and insists that Nigeria’s territorial integrity is intact. According to credible Nigerian media sources, the United Nations Humanitarian Office (OCHA) has confirmed that Gwoza is under rebel control. Read more »

Ebola in the Congo

by John Campbell
Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007. Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007.

The health minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Kabange Numbi, has announced an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the remote Equateur province. Two cases have been confirmed by the ministry. The authorities have moved quickly to isolate the village where the disease was found. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 16–August 22

by John Campbell
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 August 16 to August 22, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Ebola “a Complete Disaster”

by John Campbell
A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014. (UNICEF/Courtesy Reuters) A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014. (UNICEF/Courtesy Reuters)

This is the conclusion of Dr. Joanne Liu, MD, president of Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres-MSF). Her interview in the New York Times is a compelling must-read for those watching Ebola and West Africa. Far from echoing the cautious optimism that the disease may be coming under control in certain areas, she says, “no one yet has the full measure of the magnitude of this crisis. We don’t have good data collection. We don’t have enough surveillance.” Read more »

Ebola, Fear, and Better Communication

by John Campbell
A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, August 14, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in Abidjan, August 14, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

Ebola is fearful. Its symptoms include raging fever, bleeding from orifices (including the eyes and ears), diarrhea, and vomiting. The mortality rate is high. Caregivers move about in space suits. Necessary care for the sick and proper medical practices, including quarantine and the burial methods, are contrary to the strong family and community-centered values of traditional West African society. Read more »

Ten Books for Approaching Religious Conflict in Nigeria

by John Campbell
A newspaper front page reporting the death of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe lies on a street in Calabar, Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, March 23, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A newspaper front page reporting the death of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe lies on a street in Calabar, Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, March 23, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has just published Emily Mellgard’s “Must Reads on Religious Conflict in Nigeria.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 9–August 15

by John Campbell
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 August 9 to August 15, 2014.
These incidents are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 2–August 8

by John Campbell
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 August 2 to August 8, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls as Suicide Bombers?

by John Campbell
Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former minister of education and a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaigner, addresses supporters at the Unity Fountain, on the hundredth day of the abductions of more than two hundred school girls by Boko Haram, in Abuja, July 23, 2014 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters). Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former minister of education and a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaigner, addresses supporters at the Unity Fountain, on the hundredth day of the abductions of more than two hundred school girls by Boko Haram, in Abuja, July 23, 2014 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

It has been nearly four months since Boko Haram kidnapped up to three hundred school girls from a school in Chibok, Borno state. Thus far, there has been little public evidence that the government has located them or is about to rescue them. Nor do the offers of assistance from friendly governments such as the United States appear to have had much impact. Frustration is growing, articulated by former education minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, an animator of the #BringBackOurGirls protests in Abuja. Read more »

South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters Making a Splash

by John Campbell
Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 20, 2014 (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters). Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 20, 2014 (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters).

Julius Malema’s political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), won about 6 percent of the vote in the South Africa’s March national elections. This makes it South Africa’s third largest party, though it remains significantly behind the governing African National Congress (ANC), which won 62 percent of the vote, and the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, which won 22 percent. Read more »