How a Former London Security Guard Became the President of Gambia (Delayed Gratification – May 11)

One morning in December 2016, a tiny West African nation woke up to find its autocratic leader of 22 years had been toppled – and in his place was a former security guard for the Holloway Road branch of Argos. Anna Dubuis tells the story of Adama Barrow, the ultimate political outsider

Zambia: Hichilema’s Treason Trial Sheds Light on Political Tensions (Newsweek – May 2)

“What's happening in Zambia with Hichilema is not an isolated incident, but rather serves to illustrate a larger pattern of repressing critical voices in the country,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of pro-democracy advocacy group Vanguard Africa.

“Under successive [Lungu’s party] Patriotic Front regimes, we have seen, unequivocally, a very dangerous slide towards authoritarianism. The warning signs have long been present,” Smith told Newsweek.

Residents of English Speaking Cameroon Have Internet Restored (Newsweek – April 25)

“The #BringBackOurInternet campaign generated international interest and condemnation [and] definitely helped lead to the restoration of internet,” Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director at pro-democracy advocacy group Vanguard Africa, tells Newsweek .

“Oftentimes, these repressive governments, those like Cameroon which have operated outside the international gaze, need to be spotlighted and shamed,” said Smith. “I think that's what happened here. The internet block became too costly for the regime.” 

A Road Rage Case in Zambia is Renewing Fear for the Country’s Democracy (World Politics Review – April 20)

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, says the odds are slim that outsiders will do much beyond issue statements of concern—something the U.S. Embassy and the European Union have already done in the wake of Hichilema’s arrest. In fact, Smith argues, Zambian officials have for years now been able to intimidate critics and target journalists with relative impunity, taking advantage of the country’s reputation for peaceful elections and transfers of power. “I think Zambia has been given quite a bit of leeway given their past successes,” Smith says.