John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
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 »

Nigeria: Kidnapping and Escape of Women and Girls

by John Campbell
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 »

Soccer: African Islamism and the “Beautiful Game”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Players from Heegan (blue shirt) compete against players from Gaaddidka (red shirt) during the first soccer match of the Somalia Premier League at the Banadir stadium in Mogadishu, November 8, 2013. (Omar Faruk/Courtesy Reuters) Players from Heegan (blue shirt) compete against players from Gaaddidka (red shirt) during the first soccer match of the Somalia Premier League at the Banadir stadium in Mogadishu, November 8, 2013. (Omar Faruk/Courtesy Reuters)

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

When al Shabaab, the violent Islamist group in Somalia, took control of the capital city Mogadishu, it actively destroyed buildings and overt displays of Western institutions and influences. This included outlawing soccer. The group destroyed cinemas and viewing centers in Mogadishu during the 2010 World Cup to stop residents from watching the matches. Their first successful international attack was the twin explosions in Uganda’s capital Kampala at viewing stations during the tournament. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 15-20

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 June 15 to June 20, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 5 – June 12

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 June 5 to June 12, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Central African Republic: Chaos Could Further Radicalize the Conflict

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Seleka fighter takes a break during a patrol as he searches with other Seleka fighters for anti-Balaka Christian militia members near the town of Lioto, June 6, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) A Seleka fighter takes a break during a patrol as he searches with other Seleka fighters for anti-Balaka Christian militia members near the town of Lioto, June 6, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

In September 2014 twelve thousand United Nations peacekeepers are slated to phase out and replace two thousand French troops and to assimilate six thousand African Union troops in the Central African Republic (CAR). The French forces currently in the CAR intervened to halt a political and humanitarian catastrophe and prevent what many feared would amount to genocide. The situation the UN peacekeepers inherit in September will in many ways be worse. Read more »

Nigeria’s Churning Is About More Than Elite Politics

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Commanding officers salute during a parade for the Nigeria Army's 150th anniversary celebration in Abuja, July 6, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Commanding officers salute during a parade for the Nigeria Army's 150th anniversary celebration in Abuja, July 6, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This post was co-authored by John Campbell and  Jim Sanders. Jim was a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are their personal views.

The weekend news from Nigeria has been dominated by former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi’s elevation to emir of Kano. Kano is usually considered the second or third in the hierarchy of Nigeria’s traditional Muslim leaders. The emirate system in Nigeria does not operate according to primogeniture, so Sanusi, as a member of the family that provides the emir of Kano, was eligible for the position. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 29 – June 5

by John Campbell
A policeman sitting at the back of a truck makes a phone call before the start of a speak-out session of "bring back our girls" rally in Lagos, June 7, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A policeman sitting at the back of a truck makes a phone call before the start of a speak-out session of "bring back our girls" rally in Lagos, June 7, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from May 29 to June 5, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

A Boko Haram Enclave in Northeastern Nigeria?

by John Campbell
People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

On June 5 the Wall Street Journal reported that Boko Haram has “tightened its grip” over a 1,200 square mile area of northeastern Nigeria. For the sake of comparison, this area is about the size of the state of Rhode Island, including Narragansett Bay. Read more »

Are Nigerian Military Officers in Court Martial for Helping Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
Director of Defense Information, Major General Chris Olukolade addresses the media as they parade the suspected bombers responsible for the Nyanya bus park bomb in Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy reuters) Director of Defense Information, Major General Chris Olukolade addresses the media as they parade the suspected bombers responsible for the Nyanya bus park bomb in Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy reuters)

Boko Haram operatives often wear Nigerian military uniforms, use weapons from Nigerian armories, and have attacked military facilities where gates were mysteriously left unlocked. The Nigerian military is as fractured along ethnic and religious lines as other parts of Nigerian society. Hence, many Nigerians think that Boko Haram has penetrated successfully the Nigerian military. Read more »