Youth Struggles: From the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter & Beyond

  • Citation: Honwana, Alcinda Manuel. “Youth Struggles: From the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter & Beyond.” African Studies Review 62, no. 1 (2019): 8–21.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • youth
    • transitions to adulthood
    • youth politics
    • collective mobilizations
    • civil rights social movements
    • social change

The majority of young people in Africa are today living in “waithood,” a prolonged, difficult, and dynamic transition into adult life. This experience is shared with an increasing number of young people in the developed North who are also grappling with issues of joblessness and political exclusion. This waithood generation is increasingly losing faith in the ability of its leaders to address young people’s needs and expectations, and it is rebelling against the status quo. From the youth uprisings that led to the Arab Spring and the ousting of Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal and Campaore in Burkina Faso, to political protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter in the U.S. and Los Indignados in Spain, young people have been at the forefront of political change. However, they have not yet been able to effect systemic change. While profound social transformation takes time, this generation is still wrestling with how to move beyond street protest and have a lasting impact on politics and governance.

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