John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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The Conflicting Messages of Jacob Zuma

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015.  (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has denounced the anti-immigrant violence racking his country while also promising to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It’s a tricky and dangerous high stakes game to play, one that does not address the nation’s underlying problems of unemployment and poverty, and that sadly puts South Africa’s stability at stake. Read more »

Race and the Development Paradigm

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A boy carries a container of water in the suburb of Epworth in Zimbabwe's capital Harare December 7, 2009. Aid agencies, led by the United Nations, on Monday launched an appeal for $378 million to meet Zimbabwe's humanitarian needs, amid signs that the crisis facing the country is easing under its unity government. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) A boy carries a container of water in the suburb of Epworth in Zimbabwe's capital Harare December 7, 2009. Aid agencies, led by the United Nations, on Monday launched an appeal for $378 million to meet Zimbabwe's humanitarian needs, amid signs that the crisis facing the country is easing under its unity government. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Mora McLean, President Emerita of The Africa-America Institute.

Some twenty years ago, Amartya Sen, spurred a major shift in development theory by making the case that per capita gross domestic product should not be the sole measure for assessing and comparing well-being across the globe. Sen called attention to global mortality data showing that men in Bangladesh were more likely to live to age forty than black American men in Harlem, despite having much lower incomes. He argued that “[t]he need to widen the scope of conventional economics to include the economics of life and death is no less acute in the United States than it is in famine stricken sub-Saharan Africa.” Read more »

Unprecedented Rhino Poaching in 2015

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A ranger walks behind a pair of black rhinoceros at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation Park near Marondera, east of the capital Harare, September 22, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) A ranger walks behind a pair of black rhinoceros at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation Park near Marondera, east of the capital Harare, September 22, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

This year rhino poaching has increased significantly in South Africa and Namibia, part of a worsening trend. Since 2007 there has been a 10,000 percent increase in poaching in South Africa alone. An average of twelve rhinos were poached in South Africa between 2000 and 2007 per year; that number ballooned to 1,255 in 2014. Read more »

Kenya’s Al-Shabaab Problem

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

On October 16, 2011, the Kenyan army, in an ostensibly joint operation with the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries, crossed the border into Somalia and attacked the insurgent group al-Shabaab. In response to the October 16 offensive, al-Shabaab launched an attack in Kenya on October 24, 2011. The attack killed one person. Read more »

The Danger of Al-Shabaab’s Evolution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

In the past five years, the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab has lost most of its senior leadership, surrendered its control of southern Somalia, and seen its cash flow shrink. The group has certainly seen better times. But as the success of recent attacks in Kenya and Mogadishu indicate, the group is regaining some of its previous stature but as a fundamentally different group. Al-Shabaab is now more decentralized and has a larger geographic focus. Given regional dynamics, an inept Kenyan security response, refugee flows from Yemen, and a diminished United States presence, this new embodiment of al-Shabaab is becoming increasingly difficult to counter. Read more »

South African Comedian in the United States

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Comedian Jon Stewart greets the audience as he tapes Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at the University of Denver in Denver, August 26, 2008. (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters) Comedian Jon Stewart greets the audience as he tapes Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at the University of Denver in Denver, August 26, 2008. (Eric Thayer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

On March 30, Comedy Central’s the Daily Show announced that 31-year old Trevor Noah will replace John Stewart as the host. As the Daily Show’s twitter handle put it: Noah is just “another guy in late night from Soweto.” The announcement of his new position has drawn a great deal of attention, both positive and negative. Read more »

Innovative Anti-poaching in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stands guard as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stands guard as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Lately, conservationists and lovers of Africa’s diverse wildlife have been hard pressed for good news. From South Africa’s difficulty tackling rhino poaching to Zimbabwe’s sale of baby elephants to foreign countries, it often seems that African governments are either ill equipped to protect their animal populations or simply don’t care—or worse. However, it is important to remember that there are park rangers who are working tirelessly to protect and save Africa’s biodiversity. Read more »

Somalia Ready for Oil Exploration?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters) Engineers and visitors explore an exploratory well near Dharoor town, 350 km (217 miles) from the port of Bosasso on the Gulf of Aden in Puntland, January 17, 2012. (Abdiqani Hassan /Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

Last month, Soma Oil and Gas, a London based energy company, searching for hydrocarbon deposits off the coast of Somalia, announced that it had completed a seismic survey to ascertain the potential for recoverable oil and gas deposits. Although further details have yet to be released, chief executive Rob Sheppard announced that the results were encouraging. However, Somalia, and potential investors, should proceed with caution when considering entering this frontier market. Read more »

Balzac and Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Muslims attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha at an open field in Lagos, October 4, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/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.

Balzac’s early novel, Les Chouans (1829), is not critics’ favorite. But, the book, which deals with a revolt in Brittany of Chouans–peasants with royalist sympathies–against the French revolution, is a masterpiece of guerrilla warfare analysis. As I read it, I thought of Boko Haram–a sign of obsession, perhaps, or just simple curiosity. While chronological and cultural contexts are vastly different, I started to see commonalities between guerrillas fighting a civil war, regardless of time and place. Read more »

Post-Burkina Faso: Domino or Boomerang Effect?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man stands next to a sign bearing the name of Gaston Karambiri during a funeral service for six people killed during the popular uprising of October 30 and 31, in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A man stands next to a sign bearing the name of Gaston Karambiri during a funeral service for six people killed during the popular uprising of October 30 and 31, in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French businessman who has spent over forty years involved in peace talks in Africa. He serves as CEO of the Brazzaville Foundation for Peace and Nature Conservation. Read more »