John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria Sacking Senior Military Officers

by John Campbell Thursday, June 16, 2016
Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

A Nigerian army spokesman said on June 10 that “quite a number” of senior military officers have been fired, and some have been turned over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation of charges of corruption. The spokesman, Colonel Sani Kukesheka Usman, is quoted in the media as saying, “. . . not too long ago some officers were investigated for being partisan during the 2015 General Elections. Similarly, the investigation by the presidential committee investigating defense contracts revealed a lot. Some officers have already been arraigned in court by the EFCC.” He went on to say: “The military must remain apolitical and professional at all times.” Read more »

Remarks on Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered as part of the Department of State’s Ralph J Bunche Library Series, on June 8, 2016. 

From a certain perspective, South Africa is a mess. Many South Africans are disappointed by the way the country has seemingly squandered its promise as the ‘Rainbow Nation.’ Under the Jacob Zuma presidential administration, the country is treading water with respect to poverty and addressing the lasting consequences of apartheid. Corruption is rife. You can read all about it in the Mail and Guardian or the Daily Maverick. Read more »

U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits South Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) smiles after being ceremonially sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2010. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) smiles after being ceremonially sworn in at the US Capitol in Washington, November 15, 2010. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Ripples of Hope” speech at the University of Cape Town, a congressional delegation (codel) visited South Africa the last week of May. It was led by Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and an icon of the American civil rights movement; Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware; and Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Senator Kennedy and the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a U.S. based non-profit organization. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 4–June 10

by John Campbell Monday, June 13, 2016
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 4, 2016 to June 10, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Reform the Nigerian Military

by John Campbell Friday, June 10, 2016
A Nigerian military officer directs civilians at a checkpoint along Sapele-Warr road in the Niger Delta region May 26, 2009. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A Nigerian military officer directs civilians at a checkpoint along Sapele-Warr road in the Niger Delta region May 26, 2009. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Once the most effective military force in West Africa, the Nigerian military played a highly positive role in peacekeeping missions. However, Nigeria was unable to subdue the Niger delta insurgency; in 2012, it could not deploy for front line operations in Mali; and, it suffered a series of reverses in the fight against Boko Haram until it was stiffened by troops from its neighbors and South African-led mercenaries in 2015. What happened? Read more »

Islamist Terrorism in South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, June 9, 2016
A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the past few days, both the United Kingdom and the United States have warned their nationals of a possible Islamist terrorist attack in South Africa. The warnings cite upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town as the most likely targets. Read more »

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

by John Campbell Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener) Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa Program has just “soft-launched” a new online tool we call the Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST). We anticipate a roundtable at the Council’s New York and Washington offices to introduce formally the SST. In the meantime, it is available for use. Read more »

South Africa’s Land “Expropriation Bill”

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 7, 2016
A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

There is less than meets the eye to the South African parliament’s passage at the end of May of a land reform bill, called the “Expropriation Bill.” Ostensibly, the new legislation has some similarity to law of eminent domain in the United States. The new legislation would permit the government to take land for a “public purpose,” but (as in the United States) South African landowners would be compensated with an amount determined by a new ‘valuer general.’ The new legislation replaces the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: May 28–June 3

by John Campbell Monday, June 6, 2016
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 May 28, 2016 to June 3, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Rugby, Race, and South Africa

by John Campbell Friday, June 3, 2016
Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s sporting record is outstanding. The country regularly produces world-class performances in golf, tennis, cricket, rugby, and soccer (‘football’). As with much else, sports in South Africa are shaped by race. Under apartheid, like everything else, sports were strictly segregated by race. White South Africans, especially, were ‘sports mad,’ and felt keenly the imposition of sporting sanctions as part of the world wide anti-apartheid campaign. Of the two mass spectator sports, rugby was ‘white’ while soccer was ‘black.’ Other sports, such as tennis and golf, were almost exclusively play by white South Africans. Read more »