Scientific Publication

2 ‘Waithood’: Youth Transitions and Social Change


This chapter examines the challenges of youth transitions to adulthood in Africa as an illustration of global contemporary forms of the struggle for freedom from want and freedom from fear. It explores the lives of young people struggling with unemployment and sustainable livelihoods in the context of widespread social and economic crisis. Failed neo-liberal economic policies, bad governance and political instability have caused stable jobs to disappear, and without jobs young people cannot support themselves and their families. Most young Africans are living in a period of suspension between childhood and adulthood that is called 'waithood'. The 'waithood generation' possesses a tremendous transformative potential, as young people understand that the struggle to attain freedom from want requires radical social and political change. From riots and protests in the streets of London and Santiago, the 'waithood generation' appears to be conquering freedom from fear and fighting for their rights.