John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria: Kidnapping and Escape of Women and Girls

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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 »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 28 – July 4

by John Campbell Monday, July 7, 2014
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 28 to July 4, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Nigeria’s Oil Industry

by John Campbell Thursday, July 3, 2014
Men suspected to be involved in oil theft are paraded to the media at a military base in Yenagoa, March 28, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Men suspected to be involved in oil theft are paraded to the media at a military base in Yenagoa, March 28, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The Nigerian Daily Independent recently published remarks by Mutiu Sunmonu, the managing director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). The remarks provide insights into Nigeria’s oil industry. Read more »

Central African Republic: “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Seleka fighters take a break as they sit on a pick-up truck in the town of Goya, June 11, 2014. 
(Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) Seleka fighters take a break as they sit on a pick-up truck in the town of Goya, June 11, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

The devastating yet disorganized fury and violence over the past eighteen months in the Central African Republic (CAR) has caused the collapse of the state and defied traditional conflict labels and international quick-fixes. Read more »

Abuja Bomb Blast and Nigerian Security

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The scene of a bombing at the Emab business center is pictured filled with wreckages of burnt cars at the business district in Abuja, June 26, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) The scene of a bombing at the Emab business center is pictured filled with wreckages of burnt cars at the business district in Abuja, June 26, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On June 25, there was a bomb blast at a shopping center in Wuse 2 in downtown Abuja. According to the police, twenty-one persons were killed. While no group has claimed responsibility, the Nigerian media (and everybody else) points to Boko Haram, the Islamist insurrection, as the most likely perpetrator. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 21-27

by John Campbell Monday, June 30, 2014
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 21 to June 27, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Soccer: African Islamism and the “Beautiful Game”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, June 27, 2014
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 »

Youth in Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by John Campbell Thursday, June 26, 2014
Boys recite verses from the Koran at an Almajiri Islamic school in Maiduguri, May 24, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Boys recite verses from the Koran at an Almajiri Islamic school in Maiduguri, May 24, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a movement that is destabilizing Nigeria, “the giant of Africa,” we have remarkably few hard facts about Boko Haram.

Some of the questions that we don’t have answers to—or at least, that there is no consensus about—include:

 

  • How many operatives does it have?
  • Where does its funding come from?
  • How much popular support does it have?
  • What is its leadership structure?
  • What kind of assistance does it receive from outside Nigeria?
  • Why do people join?
  • Read more »

Security Hazards of Being a FIFA World Cup Spectator

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A fan waits for the start of a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, June 19, 2010. (Dylan Martinez/Courtesy Reuters) A fan waits for the start of a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, June 19, 2010. (Dylan Martinez/Courtesy Reuters)

This guest post was coauthored by Emily Mellgard, research associate, and Amanda Roth, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Even with their immense diversity, nearly all Africans love soccer. There is a cultural obsession with the sport similar to that of Americans for football, and it has, in the past, caused riots between fans of rival teams. Most of the time however, Africans’ passion for soccer is a constructive social pastime, and national teams can be a focus of unity and identity. Read more »

Inconsistent Reports of More Women and Children Kidnapped in Northeastern Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Rachel Daniel, thirty-five, holds up a picture of her abducted daughter Rose Daniel, seventeen, as her son Bukar, seven, sits beside her at her home in Maiduguri, May 21, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Rachel Daniel, thirty-five, holds up a picture of her abducted daughter Rose Daniel, seventeen, as her son Bukar, seven, sits beside her at her home in Maiduguri, May 21, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

The Nigerian media is reporting a new mass kidnapping in northeastern Nigeria. This time, victims include adolescent males and small children as well as women and girls. The estimated number of those kidnapped ranges from sixty to nearly one hundred. Read more »