John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Zimbabwe: The ‘Crocodile’ Who Would Be King

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe congratulates Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice president at the State House in Harare, December 12, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe congratulates Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's vice president at the State House in Harare, December 12, 2014. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Amid a public debate over the presidential succession, President Robert Mugabe named Emmerson Mnangagwa vice-president of Zimbabwe on December 10, 2014. It would seem that Mnangagwa, nicknamed ‘Ngwena’ or ‘Crocodile,’ is now the heir apparent to Zimbabwe’s president. Mnangagwa has been a member of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party since the 1970’s, and fought alongside Mugabe in the Zimbabwe war of liberation from white rule, which lasted from 1964 to 1979. Among other duties, Mnangagwa has served as Zimbabwe’s minister of state security, and, most recently, he was the minister of justice. Read more »

Nigeria’s Elections in 2011 and 2015

by John Campbell
A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A campaign banner in support of President Goodluck Jonathan (R) is hung next to a banner in support of Presidential candidate of opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, on a street light in Ikoyi district in Lagos, January 21, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigerian anxiety is high about the approaching February 14 national elections. The country’s political class is fragmented, oil prices are falling, Nigeria’s currency has been devalued, and the Lagos stock exchange is in the doldrums. The insurgency called Boko Haram appears to be gaining strength. Read more »

International Assistance for Nigerian Refugees

by John Campbell
Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters) Refugees gather in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, that was set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. (Samuel Ini/Courtesy Reuters)

In the best of times, Northeastern Nigeria and the adjoining regions in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon are among the poorest regions in the world. Food security, especially, is highly fragile in the face of desertification and overpopulation. These are not the best of times. Read more »

1,155 Rhinos Poached in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Home to the world’s largest rhino population, South Africa saw 1,155 rhinos illegally killed in 2014. That is a 15 percent increase on 2013’s 1004 poached rhinos. More than 4.6 percent of an approximate total of 25,000 rhinos in Africa were killed this past year in South Africa alone. Read more »

“Je Suis Charlie” and Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

In the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a separate but apparently related January 9 attack on a Jewish supermarket, both in Paris, over 3 million demonstrated throughout France in solidarity against terrorism. In Paris, demonstrators numbered some 1.6 million. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 3-January 9

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 January 3, 2015 to January 9, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

More Alarm Bells for Nigeria’s February Elections

by John Campbell
A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A building of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set ablazed in Nigeria's central city of Jos, December 26, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the chief opposition party contesting the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the political control of Nigeria in national elections on February 14, 2015. The PDP’s presidential candidate is incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian. The APC’s candidate is Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northern Muslim. 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 »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update December 27-January 2

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 December 27, 2014 to January 2, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Looking Forward: Africa 2015

by John Campbell
A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters) A boy stands in front of wind turbines at the Ashegoda Wind Farm, near a village in Mekelle, Tigray, 780 km (485 miles) north of Addis Ababa, October 25, 2013. (Kumerra Gemechu/Couresy Reuters)

With over a billion people and the second largest continental landmass in the world, Africa is complicated and defies generalization. Yet, we do it all the time. Here are five trends to keep an eye on for 2015:

 

  1. A Resurgence of Afro-pessimism. For the past several years, the narrative about Africa has been upbeat, ranging from McKinsey and Company’s Lions on the move” to the Economist’sA Hopeful Continent.” That could change in 2015, with a militant jihadism in the Sahel, an implosion in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and Ebola. Falling oil prices will also mean declining currency values and falling stock markets in oil-dependent states. But, Afro-pessimism can distort as much as ‘Africa rising.’
  2. Read more »