John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Africans in China: The Pivot Back

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African traders buy clothing at a shopping mall in Guangzhou July 31, 2009. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu) African traders buy clothing at a shopping mall in Guangzhou July 31, 2009. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

This piece has been co-authored by Nathan Birhanu and Bochen Han. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program and is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Bochen is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Asia Studies program and is an undergraduate majoring in political science at Duke University. Read more »

South Africa’s Trade Union Federation to Split

by John Campbell
Suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi (C) protests with members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) as they march through Durban, March 19, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi (C) protests with members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) as they march through Durban, March 19, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a federation of labor unions, played a crucial role in the struggle against apartheid. It provided much of the personnel that mobilized voters for the African National Congress (ANC) from the country‘s first “all-race” elections in 1994 up to now. COSATU, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the ANC form the coalition that governs the country. COSATU and SACP contest elections as part of the ANC. Read more »

Burundi’s Political Divide

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Burundi's President President Pierre Nkurunziza (L) receives a symbolic chain after being sworn-in for a third term following his re-election at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura, August 20, 2015. (Reuters/Evrard Ngendakumana) Burundi's President President Pierre Nkurunziza (L) receives a symbolic chain after being sworn-in for a third term following his re-election at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura, August 20, 2015. (Reuters/Evrard Ngendakumana)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto. You can follow her on twitter at @claireLwilmot. Read more »

Legitimizing Xenophobia: How South Africa Breeds Distrust of Foreigners

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Demonstrators carry placards during a march against xenophobia in downtown Johannesburg, April 23, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Demonstrators carry placards during a march against xenophobia in downtown Johannesburg, April 23, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School.

Twenty-five years ago South Africans sought global assistance to create an inclusive democracy. As of yet it has failed to achieve that goal. South Africa continues to sit economically as it does geographically, at the nexus of the first and third world. It’s a nation of people from developed and developing countries, and of rich and poor. It is plagued by inequity between, and within, its black and white neighborhoods. Economic opportunity is limited, social cohesion remains fragmented, and the country has devolved into bouts of identity violence with foreign populations often the victims. This is especially the case in economically vulnerable areas where there is competition for housing, education, employment, and ultimately for survival. Read more »

Where have all the young men gone?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Adolescent migrants Mustafa (2nd R) from Gambia and Ishmael (R) from Sierra Leone stand in a courtyard at an immigration centre in Caltagirone, Sicily, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi) Adolescent migrants Mustafa (2nd R) from Gambia and Ishmael (R) from Sierra Leone stand in a courtyard at an immigration centre in Caltagirone, Sicily, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)

This is a guest post by Mohamed Jallow, an Africa watcher, following politics and economic currents across the continent. He works at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

I received a frantic phone call recently from a family member living in New York City. She was inquiring whether I knew anyone who could help, or any way for, a young seventeen-year-old migrant (her younger brother), stranded in Ecuador to come to the United States. I was lost for words. Do African migrants go to Ecuador? How in the world did he end up there? Read more »

The Closing of the Canadian Border

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert) Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Canada’s reputation as a country that offers safe resettlement to refugees is in sharp decline. From 1961 until the early 2000s, Canadian immigration policy welcomed both immigrants and refugees, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. However, Stephen Harper’s conservative government has made it increasingly difficult for refugees to resettle in Canada over the past decade. Nevertheless, in the lead up to the October 19 federal elections, immigration policy has not been the subject of public debate and most candidates have remained relatively silent. Read more »

Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In June 2014, Nigeria experienced its first attack by a female suicide bomber. Since then, Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and women as operatives in suicide attacks on soft targets. According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, Female suicide bombers have been responsible for over 200 deaths since May 2015, nearly half of all casualties from Boko Haram-attributed suicide bombings during this period. Read more »

President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia

by John Campbell
A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Whatever decision the White House makes in selecting the countries included on a presidential visit to Africa, it is bound to draw critical scrutiny. On July 24, President Obama departs for a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. Two reasons for these two countries seem immediately clear. An important focus of the trip will be the African Union (AU), which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held this year in Nairobi, Kenya. The AU is the lodestar of the “African solutions to African problems” policy, while the Entrepreneurship Summit demonstrates a focus on economic development. Both are policy goals keenly supported by the United States. However, there is also a symbolic significance to this decision. Many in Africa have questioned why President Obama, with a Kenyan father, has not yet visited Nairobi during his presidency. This absence has contributed to disappointment in Africa that the Obama presidency has not been particularly African in its focus. Read more »

Burundi: What Went Wrong?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Over the weekend, 170 opposition fighters were captured and thirty-one killed by Burundian armed forces in the Chibitoke region (near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is the latest in a series of violent incidents following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term in office in violation of Burundi’s constitution. Last week Nkurunziza’s party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), announced victory in the parliamentary elections, despite an opposition boycott and the UN proclamation that the vote was not free, fair, or credible. Once a post-conflict success story, Burundi now threatens to relapse into violence, raising questions about what went wrong in the peacebuilding process. Read more »

Nigeria’s Cupboard is Bare

by John Campbell
Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to the media, President Muhammadu Buhari said on June 23 that Nigeria’s treasury is “virtually empty.” In order to document this he has promised to release a report on the size of Nigeria’s revenue and debt in about four weeks. He also says that he will recover billions of dollars that have been stolen under previous administrations, and that the United States and other countries will assist Nigeria in the recovery of the stolen money. Read more »