John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

The Dilemma of U.S. High-Profile Visits to African Conflict Zones

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 20, 2016
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power visits the Mugunga III camp for internally displaced people in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, October 6, 2013. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe) U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power visits the Mugunga III camp for internally displaced people in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, October 6, 2013. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe)

High profile visits to war or disaster zones have long been common and popular among senior U.S. officials, as has foreign travel in general. Hillary Clinton was proud that she had traveled to 112 countries as secretary of state. At the same time, security requirements have grown, seemingly exponentially, often causing indignation among local people because of the disruption in their daily lives. And sometimes tragedy happens, as in Cameroon, where U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s speeding motorcade killed a child in April. But, U.S. officials welcome the U.S. media attention such visits provide, as do local elites and politicians who ae often disconnected from the people they ostensibly govern. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: December 10 – December 16

by John Campbell Monday, December 19, 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 December 10, 2016 to December 16, 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 »

Nigeria Claims $4.7 billion Lost Due to Oil Attacks

by John Campbell Friday, December 16, 2016
Smoke and flames rise from a pipe-line fire in Ebute-Oko near Lagos November 30, 2000. The fire at the leaking oil pipeline, believed to have been started by a nearby cooking fire, has killed more than 60 people, many of them fishermen in wooden canoes that were engulfed by the flaming liquid. More than a dozen burned bodies littered a beachhead at the village of Ebute-Oko which faces the central business district of Lagos across a lagoon. Smoke and flames rise from a pipe-line fire in Ebute-Oko near Lagos November 30, 2000. The fire at the leaking oil pipeline, believed to have been started by a nearby cooking fire, has killed more than 60 people, many of them fishermen in wooden canoes that were engulfed by the flaming liquid. More than a dozen burned bodies littered a beachhead at the village of Ebute-Oko which faces the central business district of Lagos across a lagoon.

Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company stated on December 14 that the company’s subsidiary Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) lost 1.5 trillion naira (about $4.9 billion) from militant and criminal attacks on its oil production facilities to date in 2016. Baru went on to say that NPDC recorded fifty-nine separate security incidents that resulted in crude production being shut down or deferred. Read more »

South Africa and New Zealand Reciprocally Eliminate Visa Exemption

by John Campbell Thursday, December 15, 2016
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. September 20, 2016. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

In October 2016, the New Zealand government withdrew the visa waiver arrangements for South African passport holders. It said the decision resulted from the number of South African visitors who used the visa waiver to visit family and friends in Zealand, rather than traveling to New Zealand for business or tourism. It also said that some South African visitors were overstaying the three month visa waiver limit or did not return to South Africa. The New Zealand government also cited the number of visitors who presented counterfeit South African passports and were denied entry by the New Zealand authorities. Read more »

The Prophecy of Nigeria’s TB Joshua

by John Campbell Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Worshipers, dressed in traditional attire, attend a church service at the Living Faith Church, also known as the Winners' Chapel, in Ota district, Ogun state, some 60 km (37 miles) outside Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, September 28, 2014. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Worshipers, dressed in traditional attire, attend a church service at the Living Faith Church, also known as the Winners' Chapel, in Ota district, Ogun state, some 60 km (37 miles) outside Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, September 28, 2014. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Nigerians like to say that they are the happiest people in the world and the most religious. Public events commonly open and close with prayer. Causation of events, big or small is routinely ascribed to the divine. The population appears to be more-or-less evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. Among Christians, estimates are more than half of its adherents are Anglicans and Roman Catholics. But, there are a large number of other denominations independent of any of the more common faith traditions. They are particularly associated with televangelism and mega churches. Read more »

Nigerian Security Service Abuses

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 13, 2016
A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for internally displaced people (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for internally displaced people (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Security service abuses in Nigeria, primarily by the army and the police, date from colonial times. Observers commonly accept that such abuses are an important driver of recruitment by Boko Haram and other insurgencies. There has been a drumbeat of criticism of the Jonathan and Buhari administrations’ seeming lack of action to curb the abuses. Of late, a focus of that criticism has been credible allegations of security service abuse of civilians, especially rape of women, in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northeast. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: December 3 – December 9

by John Campbell Monday, December 12, 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 December 3, 2016 to December 9, 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 »

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka “Disengages” from the United States

by John Campbell Friday, December 9, 2016
Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, says he has “torn up” his green card and left the United States to return to Nigeria. Soyinka’s act is in protest against the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. During the campaign, Soyinka had said that he would leave the United States if Trump were elected. As reported in the British media, Soyinka said “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” (Holders of a green card are alien permanent residents of the United States with most of the privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to freely travel abroad.) Read more »

Mobile Phones, the Internet, and South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, December 8, 2016
A worker walks past cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A worker walks past cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) Centre for Risk Analysis has published a study that shows the dramatic increase in mobile phone usage in South Africa and its importance as a portal to internet usage. During the 2000-2014 period, fixed line subscriptions per one hundred people dropped by 38 percent while mobile phone subscriptions increased by 702 percent. The increase affected all races, but the growth is especially striking among ‘Coloured’ and ‘Indian’ South Africans. For Black South Africans it was 405.3 percent; for ‘Coloureds’ it was 763.6 percent; for ‘Indians’ it was 708.3 percent; for Whites it was 470.6 percent. The lower rate of increase among Blacks may reflect the higher levels of poverty among that demographic. Among whites, the lower level may reflect that many of them have long had access to land lines and to cell phones, resulting in a lower rate of usage growth. Read more »

Development of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, December 7, 2016
A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Reuters/Tiksa Neger) A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. (Reuters/Tiksa Neger)

This is a guest post by Caila Glickman, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations’ department of Global Health. Caila is currently a pre-med student at Oberlin College studying chemistry and international relations. Her interests are in medicine, environmental science, and international law. Read more »