Professor Keith Somerville

Contact details

Professor Keith Somerville
Bsc (International Relations), PGCE Higher Education (Brunel)
Position/Fellowship type:
Senior Research Fellow
Fellowship term:
18-Jan-2013 to 31-Jul-2026
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Home institution:
University of Kent
Centre for Journalism University of Kent, Room G1-08 Gillingham Building, University of Kent at Medway, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4AG
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Archaeology, Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Communications, Communities, Classes, Races, Contemporary History, Globalization & Development, History, International Relations, Modern History , Palaeography, Political Institutions, Politics, Regional history, Socialism, Communism, Anarchism
Africa, Europe, Middle East
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Contemporary African and European conservation - the politics, economics and sociological aspects of human wildlife relations. I also research aspects of African history, images of Africa in the media, radio and other forms of propaganda, and links between conflict and the wildlife trade; human wildlife conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016 I was awarded the Marjan-Marsh Award by the Marjan Centre for the Study of War and the Non-Human Sphere and the Marsh Trust. The Marjan-Marsh Award  is given annually to someone who has made an invaluable contribution to an area where conflict and conservation ; The award was for my book Ivory. Power and Poaching in Africa; My latest book, Jackals, golden wolves and honey badgers was published by Routledge in November 2022, it follows my books on humans and hyenas and humans and lions.. My book on the history of human exploiation and conservation of rhinos, and the struggle to conserve them in the face of masssive poaching, will be published by Pelagic Books by January 2025.  I am now writing a book on the expansion in numbers and massive spread in the distribution and ranges of Eurasian Jackals.. I write regularly for Commonwealth Opinion and the prestigious international publication Global Geneva on human-wildlife issues, the effects of COVID,conservation and human-wildlife conflict.

Project summary relevant to Fellowship:

Continued research into human-wildlife conflict, the legal and illegal trade in wildlife products (esp. rhino horn and ivory) the debates over hunting and conservation, and the relationship between military conflict, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Most of the research is concentrated on Commonwealth countries in eastern and southern Africa, but growing interest in Eurasian wildlife.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
24-Apr-2024 Rising rhino poaching in South Africa


05-Mar-2024 Shock at rise in rhino poaching in South Africa in 2023


Analysis of the disappointing rise in the level of rhino poaching in South Africa in 2023.

13-Jul-2023 South African white rhinos relocated to Garamba National Park


15-Jun-2023 South African white rhinos relocated to DRC’s Garamba National Park


Report on relocation of South African white rhinos to DRC national Park.

06-Feb-2023 Namibia: Rhino Poaching almost doubles in 2022 with Etosha hit hard


In 2022, 87 rhinos were poached for their horns in Namibia, up a staggering worrying 93% on the figure for 2021, when 45 were killed

13-Dec-2022 Kruger National Park’s rhino losses mirror continental African trend


14-Nov-2022 Jackals, Golden Wolves, and Honey Badgers Cunning, Courage, and Conflict with Humans


ISBN 9781032059082

his book explores the fascinating and complex lives of the honey badger, the African jackals (black-backed and side-striped), African golden wolves, and Eurasian golden jackals. In recent years, interest in these creatures has grown exponentially, through wildlife documentaries and media clips showing the aggressive, fearless, and tenacious behaviour of the honey badger, with jackals often presented in a supporting role.

Written by renowned journalist and educator Keith Somerville, this accessible volume includes historical narratives, folklore, and contemporary accounts of human–wildlife relationships and conflicts. It traces the evolution of the species; their foraging and diet; the development of their relationships with humans; and their commensal, kleptocratic, and symbiotic relationships with other carnivores, raptors and birds. It also charts the recent expansion in European jackal numbers and ranges, now including as far west as the Netherlands and as far north as Finland.

Blending historical observations by non-scientists, colonial officials, administrators, and early conservationists with contemporary scientific accounts, it presents a new multidisciplinary approach that will interest researchers, scientists, and students in wildlife conservation, human–wildlife relations, zoology, biology, and environmental science.

25-May-2022 Conservation and security – the question of militarisation of anti-poaching


13-Apr-2022 Conservationists look for new ways of combating rhino poaching as South African poachers go back to work


26-Mar-2022 The framing of international news stories about Africa remains stereotypical


25-Feb-2022 Elephant hunting and poaching in Botswana: Politics, popular grievances and the power of animal advocacy


Chapter in SOAS book - Elephant Reader

01-Nov-2021 Reconnecting people to our planet A photographic hymn to the sacredness of nature. Keith Somerville reviews Sacred Nature Volume 2: Reconnecting People to Our Planet by Jonathan and Angela Scott* .


19-Mar-2021 Humans and Hyenas Monsters or Misunderstood


A history of the coexistence and conflict, myth-making and misrepresentation and current interactions between humans and hyenas - from the Miocene to the present.

19-Mar-2021 Soap operas won't wash for wildlife


I'm the lead author of a new paper published in the prestigious journal People and Nature - Soap operas will not wash for wildlife, a critique of the BBC Dynasties series.

23-Feb-2021 Rhino population continues to plummet in Kruger National Park



15-Sep-2020 FOCUS Wildlife & Pandemics: COVID-19, bushmeat and poaching in Africa


Detailed examination of the links between the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in bushmeat hunting

15-Sep-2020 FOCUS on Wildlife Trafficking & Pandemics: Bushmeat – The Background


Background on bushmeat

10-Sep-2020 Why are elephants dying in Zimbabwe and Botswana?


Why are elephants dying in #Zimbabwe and #Botswana? Keith Somerville investigates the mysterious deaths of more than 300 elephants in southern Africa

09-Aug-2020 Threats posed to conservation by media misinformation


Opinion article on the role misinformation plays in conservation debates, especially regarding hunting

06-Aug-2020 FOCUS on Wildlife & Pandemics: Covid and Conservation in Africa – more than a threat to people and wildlife


The effects of COVID on tourism, conservation and poaching in Africa

26-Jun-2020 Wars over Wildlife: Green Militarisation and Just War Theory


Wars over Wildlife: Green Militarisation and Just War Theory Amy Dickman1, Paul J Johnson1, Peter Coals1, Lauren A Harrington1, Peter Tyrrell2, Keith Somerville3, Alayne Cotterill1, David Whetham4

19-May-2020 The little conservation game that has its sights on helping ‘Big Game’


Professor Keith Somerville dons his safari jacket and pith helmet to check whether a new game can help succour conservation in a time of shrinking funds.

12-Apr-2020 Botswana’s rhino poaching crisis: COVID-19 increases the pressure


Analysis of the Botswana rhino crisis conflict

07-Jan-2020 Nature’s villains – the misrepresentation and demonisation of hyenas


A look at how hyenas have become the villains of the mammal world - viewed as scavengers and skulking cowards instead of accomplished hunters with complex social structures.

01-Jan-2020 Drought in Damaraland threatens desert-adapted lions but also brings opportunities


Updated and expanded Talking Humanities piece on the effects of drought in Damaraland on the level of human-wildlife conflict

06-Dec-2019 Ivory.Power and Poaching in Africa

Edited Book

21-Nov-2019 Angola: De-Mining key to conservation plans


02-Oct-2019 The black rhinos surviving Damaraland’s drought


Short account of the successes in rhino conservation in Namibia's Damaraland

08-Aug-2019 Britain’s lost megafauna and the extinction factor


A look at the extinction of British megafauna - based on a review of Ross Barnett's excellent book, The Missing Lynx

29-Jul-2019 Humans and Lions. Conflict, Conservation and Coexistence


An historical study of human-lion relationships since the Pleistocene. Covers current conservation issues and the debate over hunting and conservation.

16-Jul-2019 Lions and humans: navigating the history and our relationship with the ‘king of beasts’


Summary of forthcoming book on human-lion coexistence and conflict

01-Jul-2019 Propaganda in the Trophy Hunting Debate – Card-Stacking, Cherry-Picking, Name-Calling & KISS


Analysis of propaganda used in conservation debates, notably over trophy hunting and its role as a conservation tool.

03-Apr-2019 Elephant Hunting and Poaching in Botswana: Politics, Popular Grievances and the Power of Animal Advocacy


 Detailed contribution to debate on elephant numbers, poaching and hunting in Botswana

01-Oct-2018 Militarization of conservation: an army of occupation, not protection


 The problems caused by the militartization of anti-poaching.

08-Jun-2018 Lions in Conflict - Global Geneva

 The conservation of lions in eastern and southern Africa and the issue of human-wildlife conflict

31-May-2018 The King is dead, long live the King – analysing Zimbabwe’s transition from Mugabe to Mnangagwa


 Review article on the end of the Mugabe era, centring on Onslow and Plaut's very useful biography.

24-May-2018 The political economy of the honey badger – just don’t ‘ratel’ its cage


 Analysis of the symbiotic and parasitic relationships mammals and birds have with the honey badger

12-Apr-2018 How Grace Mugabe poaching claims benefit Zimbabwe’s new president


 The nature and possible political consequences of the narrative developing of Grace Mugabe's links with the ivory trade.

13-Mar-2018 Cecil the lion in the British Media: The pride and prejudice of the press, Journal of African Media Studies,


 A study of British media coverage of the shooting of Cecil 5the Lion in Zimbabwe

16-Dec-2017 Can Hunting be a Viable Conservation Tool? Is it Time to Bite not Ban the Bullet?


 Examination of whethervor not hunting can aid or harm wildlife conservation.

28-Nov-2017 The fragile balance of Namibia’s conservation policy


 short look at Namibia's lion conservation issues - published by Talking Humanities

05-Jul-2017 Poaching the truth? Boko Haram is NOT involved in the illegal ivory trade


 Response to misleading stories in the media about Boko Haram and ivory paoching in Gabon.

23-May-2017 Wave of rhino killings points to shifting poaching patterns in South Africa


 Analysis of latest figures on rhino poaching in KwaZulu-Natal

30-Mar-2017 Broadcasting Ambivalence: South Africa Radio RSA on African Independence and UDI in Rhodesia

Journal articles

 Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

26-Mar-2017 Framing conflict – the Cold War and after: Reflections from an old hack

 Article on reporting of war and the Cold War - journal Media, War and Conflict,  26 March 2017

21-Mar-2017 Has the tide turned for South Africa’s rhino poaching crisis?


 The official statistics for rhino poaching in South Africa in 2016 and their implications for conservation.

01-Mar-2017 Broadcasting Ambivalence: South Africa's Radio RSA on African Independence and UDI in Rhodesia

Journal articles

 Study of Radio RSA coverage and propaganda around African Independence and UDI.

24-Feb-2017 Is a legal trade the only way to save Africa’s remaining rhinos?


 Examination of the case for a legal trade in rhino horn.

26-Jan-2017 Africa's Long Road Since Indepenedence


 Updated version of book published by Hurst in 2015

08-Jan-2017 Why Zimbabwe’s use of elephants to pay off old debt to China is problematic


 Examination of reports of the use of live animal exports to China by Zimbabwe to pay off debts.

22-Dec-2016 Monitoring Moscow and South Africa during the Cold War and apartheid


 Blog on role at BBC Monitoring during the Cold War4, with specific reference to Africa.

16-Dec-2016 The curse of guns and state of no war but no peace in Africa


30-Nov-2016 III. Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Terrorism Cathy Haenlein, Thomas Maguire & Keith Somerville


 Whitehal Papers, Volume 86, 2016 - Issue 1: Poaching, Wildlife Trafficking and Security in Africa: Myths and Realities, edited by Cathy Haenlein and M L R Smith

24-Nov-2016 Ivory. Power and Poaching in Africa


 A history and political economy of ivory and the ivory trade in Africa.

08-Nov-2016 Eritrea, the Ultimate Garrison State


 Review article on Martin Plaut's Understanding Eritrea

02-Nov-2016 Keeping it Family : How Africa’s Corrupt Leaders Stay in Power

 Extraversion the gatekeeper state and Africa's limpet-like leaders who cling to power

25-Oct-2016 Swaziland’s rhino horn trade bid defeated at CITES – but what are the alternatives?


 Swaziland’s rhino horn trade bid defeated at CITES – but what are the alternatives?  Looking at post-CITES prospects for rhino conservation and the chances of a regulated, legal trade in non-mortality horn.

06-Oct-2016 Botswana’s elephants and conservation – are things starting to fall apart?


 Analysis of the growing wave of elephant poaching and of the results of the Great Elephant Census

05-Oct-2016 The ban on rhino horn sales leaves open the question of conservation funding


 Analysis on The Conversation of the CITES vote against legalisation of the rhino horn trade.

28-Sep-2016 The Mayor of Mogadishu: what you get when African cliché is dropped


 A review article on media coverage of Africa concentrating on Andrew Harding's book, The Mayor of Mogadishu

13-Sep-2016 Rhino horn and conservation: to trade or not to trade, that is the question


 The debate over whether or not to legalise rhino horn trade as part of a wide-ranging group of initatives to cut poaching.

05-Sep-2016 Dehorning rhinos: why there may be a case for doing it


 How do you dehorn a rhino and does it serve to protect them from poachers?

16-Aug-2016 Perfidious Albion: Britain’s shameful role in blocking a non-racial franchise in the Union of South Africa


 Review article based on martin Plaut's book - Promise and Despair. The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa

04-Aug-2016 Vietnamese carvers move centre stage as China cracks down on illegal ivory sales


 Snapshot of state of Vietnamese and Chinese ivory trade - based on Vigne and Martin's report for Save the Elephants

27-Jul-2016 South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis: wildlife is also in the firing line


14-Jul-2016 Ivory – battle lines being drawn over the trade in tusks ahead of CITES summit in South Africa


 Preview in Commonwealth Opinion of the issues and entrenched positions on the ivory trade that will be fought out at the CITES Conference in South Africa at the end of September.

10-Jul-2016 Narco-state or failed state? Guinea-Bissau and the framing of Africa July 10, 2016 6.45pm SAST


 Discussion/review article based on .

“Guinea-Bissau: Micro-State to ‘Narco-State’,” edited by Patrick Chabal and Toby Green, is published by Hurst.

21-Jun-2016 Obstacles to development in sub-Saharan Africa


 Aid, authoritarianism and development in Africa

21-Jun-2016 Kenya - Hate Speech Raises its Ugly Voice


 Politicians have sought to manipulate community grievances to whip up support in every contested election since the restoration of a multiparty system in Kenya in 1992. The grievances revolve around land, employment and access to the material benefits of political office. Criminal gangs or unemployed youths are often used to intimidate opponents and evict their supporters from areas the politicians claim to be theirs. This manipulation has routinely involved the creation and escalation of ethnic suspicion and hatred.

21-Jun-2016 Obstacles to development in sub-Saharan Africa


 The first half of this year, writes Professor Keith Somerville, has seen what would appear to be setbacks for hopes of the progressive development in states across sub-Saharan Africa of greater democracy, enhanced freedom of speech and the media, and the real possibility that populations could throw unpopular, incompetent or corrupt leaders from power.

02-Jun-2016 Nigerian corruption and crime – a fantastically corrupt culture or the result of a particular history?


 Review article on Stephen Ellis's book on corruption and crime in Nigeria. Also on SAS blog - Talking Humanities -

24-Mar-2016 Framing Conflict and War - the Cold War and After


 Ethical Journalism Network

21-Jan-2016 Africa's Long Road Since Independence. The Many Histories of a Continent


 Over the last half century, sub-Saharan Africa has not had one history, but many — histories that have intertwined, converged and diverged. They have involved a continuing saga of decolonisation and state-building, conflict, economic problems, but also progress. This new account of those histories looks in particular at the relationship between territorial, economic, political and societal structures and human agency in the complex and sometimes confusing development of an independent Africa.

The story starts long before the granting of independence to Ghana in 1957, with pre-colonial societies, slavery and colonial occupation. But the thrust of Keith Somerville’s narrative looks at Africa in the closing decades of the old millennium and the beginning of the new millennium. While this book examines post-colonial conflicts within and between new states, it also considers the history of the peoples of Africa — their struggle for economic development in the context of harsh local environments and the economic straitjacket into which they were strapped by colonial rule is charted in detail. The importance of imposed or inherited structures, whether the global capitalist system, of which Africa is a subordinate part, or the artificial and often inappropriate state borders and political systems set up by colonial powers, will be examined in the light of the exercise of agency by African peoples, political movements and leaders.

18-Dec-2015 Kenya’s Marsh Pride: What future for lions, people and development?


 An examination of the reasons behind growing lion-human conflict, illegal grazing by Maasai in the Maasai Mara Reserve and the possible solutions.

28-Nov-2015 Africa's Long Road Since Independence. The Many Histories of a Continent.


 A study of contemporary African history utilising the interplay of structure and agency and the concept of the gatekeeper state to examine key vents and developments.

06-Aug-2015 Cosmetic trade bans and Western paternalism will not end poaching in Africa – community-based conservation will


 Opinion piece on Obama pledge to restrict US domestic ivory trade.

23-Jul-2015 No longer at ease: clouds on the horizon for Botswana’s conservation success story


 Study of contemporary developmewnts in conservation in Botswana

11-Feb-2015 South Africa – 25 years since Mandela walked to freedom


Short article on the release of Mandela on 11th February 2011 and the author's role in covering events at the time.

20-Jan-2015 Terrorism in East and West Africa: PC Plod fails to shed light on a complex subject – A Review By Keith Somerville


A review of a poorly-researched and badly-written study of terrorism in East and West Africa. The review is a corrective to any readers or potential readers who might see this as a major contribution to scholarship on the subject.

17-Dec-2014 Mandela: Myth and reality - a chance for considered reflection


Report on the proceedings of the Mandela: Myth and Reality conference held by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies on 5th December 2014.

11-Dec-2014 What is Driving the Demise of the African elephant?


Insurgency, crime, political corruption and the scourge of ivory poaching in Africa. An examination of the forces that keep the ivory trade going.

16-Sep-2014 Ivory, insurgency and crime in central Africa: the Sudans connection


examination of elephant poaching in central Africa and South Sudan, highlighting the link between war, insurgency and paoching.

14-May-2014 Nigeria – who are Boko Haram and how do they survive?


An examination of the international attention given to Boko Haram and Nigeria after the abduction of the schoolgirls, and analysis of Boko Haram and its support base.

24-Apr-2014 South Sudan: how hate radio was used to incite Bentiu massacres


Concise study of the media environment in South Sudan an the UNMISS accusations that radio in Bentiu was used to incite ethnic hatred and violence.

01-Mar-2014 Radio Wars


Index on Censorship, volume 43, no 1, March 2014 - special 3dition on propaganda an conflict. Article on South Africa's radio wars during the apartheid era, looking at Radio RSA and Radio Freedom propaganda.

25-Feb-2014 The Central African Republic – An Artificial State


An examination of the causes of violence in the Central African Republic - questioning the simple description as sectarian violence and examining the role of political leaders and external intervention.

18-Nov-2013 Are South Africa’s ‘Born Free’ Generation Scaring Zuma?


Blog entry for Commonwealth Opinion on the post-apartheid generation and the ANC as campaigning for the South African election in 2014 approaches.

17-Oct-2013 Botswana’s Jumbo Dilemma – the expanding elephant population and the environment


Survey of the rapid and substantial growth in elephant numbers in Botswana - especially in the Chobe region - the environmental problems this poses and the difficult choices in management it presents the Botswana government. ironically, successful conservation has caused a major problem with no easy or popular solutions.

01-Oct-2013 “Find some starving Africans”: Reporting Disasters – the nexus of crisis, NGOs and the media


Suzanne Franks, Reporting Disasters Famine, Aid, Politics and the Media, Hurst and Co: London, 2013, ISBN: 9781849042888; £20. 248pp I’ve become very bored with the endless and usually unwarranted use of the word ‘iconic’ to describe people or events, but I have absolutely no argument whatsoever with Suzanne Frank’s opening sentence: “The BBC coverage of the Ethiopian Famine in 1984-85 was an iconic news event”. It was. Whatever questions remain about what Michael Buerk’s report from Korem omitted or how it was framed, it was a seminal moment in news reporting of humanitarian crises, of the global imaging of Africa and was to have consequences for NGO operations, NGO-media relations and the corporatization of the aid industry.

04-Sep-2013 Africa Emerges – but from what and into what? A triumph of hope over experience in Robert Rotberg’s new assessment of the continent


 Review of Robert Rotberg's Africa Emerges, looking at balance between a realistic assessment of African progress and hopeful but perhaps unsupported optimism.

01-Sep-2013 War of the Worlds as a Radio News Training Tool


Chapter in Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Kathleen Battles and Wendy Hilton-Morrow (eds) War of he Worlds to SWocial media, New York: Pee lang, 2013

05-Aug-2013 From liberation to liability – the record of National Liberation Movements in Southern Africa


Review on African Arguments (RAS) of Roger Southall, Liberation Movements in power: Party and State in Southern Africa, Woodbridge: James Curry and University of KazZulu-Natal press, 2013, pp.384, ISBN 9781847010667 (hdbk). £45.00

10-Jun-2013 Framing death – how will the world mark the passing of Nelson Mandela? African Arguments


Short article discussing how journalists cover the deaths of world figures, and how this will affect the coverage of Nelson Mandela's death.

30-May-2013 BBC’s Simpson unites ANC and DA over the future of South Africa’s white population


Piece for Commonwealth Opinions on the gaps in John Simpson's account for the BBC of poverty among white South Africans.

13-May-2013 Kenyatta reportedly unhappy at constant snubs during UK visit


Short article on Commonwealth Opinions looking at Kenyatta's continuing problems caused by his indictee status at the ICC.

22-Apr-2013 Kenyatta’s ICC trial creates dilemma for the Commonwealth and Kenya’s aid donors and friends


Institute of Commonwealth Studies blog contribution on the dilemmas facing Kenya, the Commonwealth and Kenya's diplomatic partners as a result of President Uhuru Kenyatta's impending trial at the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity.

09-Apr-2013 African Wars and the Politics of Ivory


Article published on the prestigious e-international relations site concerning the increasing use of ivory poaching in central Africa to fund or enrich insurgent groups and criminal/smuggling organizations. There is growing evidence of large-scale killing of elephants in CAR, Chad, Cameroon and DRC by groups as varied as the Ugandan LRA, the Sudanese Janjaweed, Chadian rebel groups and even the Ugandan Army. An insatiable market for ivory, rhino horn and other rare animal products in China and newly-affluent classes in Vietnam is fuelling this trade.

18-Mar-2013 Blinded by science: the problems of sorting out identity in Africa


Royal African Society: African Arguments Morten Bøås and Kevin Dunn, Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, citizenship and conflict, London: Zed, 2013, ISBN 978 1 84813 996 1 pb, pp. 149, index, £18.99 The concept of autochthony – that one is entitled to ‘belong’ because of ancestral rights or “this is ours because we were here first” (p. 1) – is in many ways an attractive one when looking at political, economic and military conflict in Africa. Land is and always has been a key factor on a continent where agriculture is still at the heart of most economies and non-urban communities. Bøås and Dunn have chosen it as their focus for looking at issues of identity in Africa and use it to examine conflicts in Liberia, Kenya, the DRC and Ivory Coast. In so doing they appear to consciously reject economic factors other than land in explaining motives for competition and violence and also suggest autochthony is more appealing and applicable than ethnicity because it implies a sense of belonging and of being somewhere first...

26-Feb-2013 Framing news in Africa – how journalists approach stories and reinforce stereotypes


Royal African Society - African Arguments: Framing news in Africa – how journalists approach stories and reinforce stereotypes – By Keith Somerville Having worked as a journalist for 33 years and having taught journalism and analysed the processes and performance of journalism for the last five, it is very revealing watching and analysing the development of major stories. There have been two dominant ones in the news about Africa over the past couple of weeks – the Mali conflict and the Pistorius-Steenkamp murder hearings. Each in their way tell us things about the way journalists work, in general, and in relation to Africa, in particular. One of the basic ways of looking at how news is reported, about how journalists select and represent events, personalities, countries, regions and continents, is through the idea of ‘framing’. Few journalists think actively as they are doing it – they may think about the angle to pursue, which actors/participants to stress, how much prominence to give certain issues, but they rarely sit back and think about what the frame is and how they are representing people, countries or events within it.

12-Feb-2013 Africa’s Borders: porous, unprotected and blocking trade and economic development


Royal African Society - African Arguments: Africa’s Borders: porous, unprotected and blocking trade and economic development – By Keith Somerville Africa's borders - artificial, obstructive and a block on trade and development. Africa inherited its borders – they were not created by those who live within them, are divided by them or who cannot easily trade across them. The many straight lines on the map (or even the wiggly ones that follow rivers or other features) are one of the banes of the continent. On the one hand they artificially lump together peoples whose histories were not the same and who, while not naturally or primordially hostile, would have chosen different paths to nationhood. On the other, they divide peoples across two or even a multitude of states. These borders were set by colonial rulers but then sanctified at its formation by the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and later reaffirmed by the African Union (AU). They created multicultural, multilinguistic and multiethnic nation states – just like the treaties after the First World War and the fall of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires created the artificial and doomed state of Yugsoslavia and those in eastern and central Europe whose borders are still bones of contention. Africa is the same...

14-Jan-2013 The Ivory Wars: how poaching in Central Africa fuels the LRA and janjaweed – By Keith Somerville


Royal African Society - African Arguments: There are no final or totally verifiable figures for the numbers of elephants slaughtered for their ivory in 2012. However, reports from Cameroon, DR Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic suggest a massive and continuing rise in killings and, ominously, the involvement of military and criminal groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Sudanese Janjaweed militia, Chadian poaching gangs and a ring of well-established Darfurian smugglers. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), Resolve (an NGO focused on stopping the LRA) and UN data all point towards a growth in ivory poaching across a wide belt of Central Africa – all in areas affected by insurgent or militia activity. Conservationists in 2012 generally focused on South African rhino poaching, which continues to rise at a catastrophic rate, with over 633 animals killed up to 19th December last year – a 19 per cent rise on the previous year and almost double the number of rhinos killed in 2010. But now Central Africa’s elephants seem at even greater risk than South Africa’s rhinos in a region where militias operate with relative impunity. The inability of governments to control much of their own territory, let alone multiple borders, makes any form of viable control and protection virtually impossible....

01-Jan-2012 Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hate: Historical Development and Definitions, Palgrave 2012.


During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, radio was used as a tool to encourage hatred, to dehumanize 'others' and to incite the mass murder or targeted groups. It became infamous - the radio station was nicknamed radio machete. In Kenya in 2007-8, local radio stations broadcast messages which incited violence, and for twelve years Nazi-controlled radio spewed out a constant stream of racial hatred against Jews, Russians and other Slavs. This set the agenda for genocide and the inhuman treatment of enemy peoples. This book gives a detailed account of the development of propaganda and the way radio transformed the delivery and impact of propaganda, making possible the use of hate broadcasting as a weapon. Despite many studies of propaganda, the trials at Nuremburg, Arusha and an impending trial of Kenyans at the Hague, there is still no definition of hate radio - Keith Somerville provides a clear picture of what it involves and defines its key characteristics.

01-Jan-2011 Violence, hate speech and inflammatory broadcasting in Kenya: The problems of definition and identification, Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, vol 32, 1, 2011, pp.82-101

Journal articles

A study of the broadcasting of hatred and incitement of violence by Kenya vernacular radios during the PEV 2007-8

01-Jan-2010 Kenya: Violence, Hate Speech and Vernacular Radio, March 2010, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies


An in-depth study of the media and the Kenyan election violence of 2007-8, examining the language of political discourse and the use of hate speech.

01-Jan-2009 BBC wounds that won’t heal, British Journalism Review, vol 20, no 1, 2009

Journal articles

A short study of the BBC's problems of trust in broadcasting.

01-Jan-1993 Southern Africa and the Soviet Union: from Communist International to Commonwealth of Independent States London, Macmillan, 1993


A detailed academic study of the relations between Southern African liberation movements with the Soviet Union, Cuba and China from 1917 to 1990. The research concentrated on why African liberation movements sought help from the socialist states and what results this had - it looks in detail at Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

01-Jan-1993 The Failure of Democratic Reform in Angola and Zaire, IISS Survival, 35, 3, I993

Journal articles

01-Jan-1990 Foreign Military Intervention in Africa London, Pinter, 1990


A study of the causes and consequences of foreign military intervention in Africa from 1960 to 1990.

01-Jan-1988 Co-wrote – Benin, Burkina Faso and Congo: Politics, Economics and Society, London, Pinter, 1988.

Edited Book

The development of socialist and Marxist ideas in Benin, PR Congo and Burkina Faso.

01-Jan-1986 Angola: Politics, Economics and Society London, Pinter, 1986


Angola's fight for liberation and the attempts of the MPLA to adopt and implement policies based on Marxism-Leninism.

01-Jan-1984 Angola: Soviet Client State or State of Socialist Orientation in Millennium Journal of International Studies, vol 13, no3 1984

Journal articles

01-Jan-1984 The Soviet Union and Zimbabwe in R. Craig Nation and Mark V. Kauppi, The Soviet Impact in Africa DC Heath, 1984

Edited Book

01-Jan-1984 The Soviet Union and Zimbabwe in R. Craig Nation and Mark V. Kauppi, The Soviet Impact in Africa DC Heath, 1984

Edited Book

01-Jan-1984 The Soviet Union and Southern Africa Since 1976 in Journal of Modern African Studies, vol 22, I, 1984.

Journal articles

1981-1990 Malawi chapter in Africa Contemporary Record.


1983-1990 China and Africa chapter in Africa Contemporary Record


Africa after the Cold War: Frozen in Time or Frozen Out in Fawcett and Sayigh, The Third World Beyond the Cold War Oxford University Press, 1999

Edited Book

Angola: Groping Towards peace or Slipping Back Towards War? in William Gutteridge and Jack Spence (ed) Violence in Southern Africa Frank Cass 1997

Edited Book

Botswana set to weigh in on whether ban on elephant hunting should be lifted


 Conservation becomes a hot political potato in Botswana

Government/policy work:

Date Details
Written Evidence on South African Foreign Policy in House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Fifth report 2003-4.

An analysis of the problems of South African foreign policy under Mandela and Mbeki.

Relevant Events

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Date Details
24-Apr-2024 The Days of the Jackal - the inexorable rise of the Eurasian Jackal

Public lecture at the University of Kent

20-Apr-2024 The rise of the Eurasian jackal - The Days of the Jackal in Europe

A short presentation on the inexorable rise and dispersal across Europe of the Eurasian jackl (Canis Aureus morietocus).  It has now been sighted in every mainland European country except Portugal.  Presented at the first conference of Fellows of the Zoological Society iof London.

11-Mar-2024 The art of interviewing

Lecture on the art, methods and techniques for interviewing. University of Kent

19-Apr-2023 The irrepressible black jackal of South Africa

A presentation on the resistance of the black-backed jackal to 350 years of attempted extermination by farmers in the South African Cape - at the first global jackal conference on World Jackal Day (online).

18-Mar-2022 Framing Africa and South Africa in the news - Public Relations Instituten of South Africa

PRISA Conference on representing South Africa to a world audience and in the media

28-Jun-2021 Have wildlife documentaries gone too far – and does it matter?

Discussant on panel at Cheltenham Science Festival on wildlife documentaries.

09-Oct-2018 Media bridging the gap in study of the Illegal Wildlife trade at IWT Evidence to Action

 Chairing media panel at Illegal Wildlifge Trade - Evidence to Action, Zoological Society of London

30-Nov-2017 Africa's Ivory Trade - the role of the Gatekeepers

 University of Kent, Conservation Society

29-Nov-2017 News on a Knife-Edge: Gemini and development journalism today

 Co-organiser of one day conference at the Institute of Commonwealth Studied

06-Dec-2016 Ujamaa and Angolan Marxism-Leninism: Africa's elusive utopias

 Presentation at The End of Utopia Symposium, Senate House Library

29-Sep-2016 The History and political economy of the African ivory trade - role of the gtatekeepers

 Opening lecture of the annual series at the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent.

16-Jun-2016 #ApartheidMustFall to #RhodesMustFall?: The Soweto Uprising of 16 June 1976

 South African former student activists, historians and journalists will reflect on the domestic and regional importance of the Soweto uprising, and whether comparisons can be drawn with today’s student-led protest in the #RhodesMustFall campaign.

10-Mar-2016 Africa Research group seminar, King's - Africa's Long Road Since Independence

 Semian presentation and discussion of major themes in Africa's post-colonial histories. Available as a podcast -

01-Mar-2016 Framing of War by the Media�Examples from the Cold War and After

 Paper on the framing and representation of conflict in the media and how this affects public perceptions of the nature of conflicts - looking at framing in the Cold War and after

25-Feb-2016 Images of Africa in the media at NYU in London

 Seminar paper on the media depictions of Africa - elivered to student seminar at NYU, London

04-Nov-2015 The Janjaweed and Ivory: Insurgents, a criminal gang or age-old hunters?

 Workshop on Workshop on the illegal wildlife trade in conflict areas, Marjan Centre for the Study of Conflict and Conservation, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London, 4 November 2015.

22-Oct-2015 Ivory hunting and the colonial experience the establishment of a discourse of alienation and marginalisation

 Ivory paper presented at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies - Legacies of Em,pire Worksshop

23-Apr-2015 Telling People What to Think? States, propaganda and information

First paper in Making of the Modern World Series at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

05-Dec-2014 Mandela - Myth and Reality, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies is convening a seminar to discuss the complexities of Mandela’s ideology, political relationship with other liberation movements within South African society, his record as the first black President of South Africa; and his contribution to South Africa’s reintegration in the international system , after decades of ostracism. 5th December 2014 marks the first anniversary of his death. At his passing, an enormous amount of media material was produced reflecting on multiple aspects of his life and work: a considerable amount of this was relatively superficial, and understandably hagiographic. Now more time has passed, there is both opportunity and need for a more dispassionate assessment of the complexity of the Mandela phenomenon: the continuing importance of debates about the armed struggle and his relationship with the SACP; Mandela, the ANC and Africa during the liberation struggle; the role and position of Mandela in the overall South African liberation struggle and relations within the ANC and with other movements and strands of thought, including Black Consciousness; serious discussion of his place in the critical time of negotiated transition; and a sober assessment of Mandela’s record in office, as revolutionary leader turned administrator, and national leader in the rapidly changing post-Cold War world; and his role in Africa and the international system. This seminar intends to contribute to the on-going debate of myths versus realities of Mandela, and the complexities of his legacy. The conference is being organised by the ICWS, in conjunction with two of its Senior Research Fellows, Keith Somerville (former BBC World news programmes editor and currently Lecturer in Humanitarian Communications, Centre for Journalism, University of Kent; and Martin Plaut (Africa Editor, BBC World Service News).

20-Feb-2014 Images of Africa

Seminar for students at New York University in London, on images of Africa in the media and the framing/stereotyping of Africa.

04-Dec-2013 Insurgency, the Ivory Trade and Porous Borders in Eastern and Central Africa

Paper presented at Africa Research Group, Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

27-Nov-2013 Framing Death - reporting the demise of the famous

RISJ seminar, Wednesday 27 November 2013 04 December, 2013 09:02 •Keith Somerville, Lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, and editor of African Arguments

07-Jun-2013 Decolonization Workshop

Paper on Radio RA and UDI - broadcasting ambiguity

The bleeding heart of Africa - The Marjan-Marsh AWards

 Keynote talk on Ivory and insurgency in Africa at the War Studies Department, King's College, London. I was recipient of the annual Marjan-Marsh Award for Conflict and Conservation contribution.

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