Youths – the younger generation, those between the ages of 18 and 35 years, form a significant percentage of the global population. This group of
individuals constitute a fifth of the World’s population, as such, they need to be included in every decision-making process. In Africa, they are recognised as being a pivotal agent to socio-economic and political reform of society. Despite this, in reality, Africa’s youths are marginalised and excluded from the political, socioeconomic, policy and essential decision-making processes in all countries on the continent. Leaders in Africa are failing to recognise this fundamental concern of the continent. (1Mengistu MM in The Quest for Youth Inclusion in the African Politics: Trends, Challenges, and Prospects)
Youth; Politics; Inclusion; Trend; Challenges; Prospects; Africa; global; Economics; Success; Development; young people’s politics; austerity; petition; boycott; social media Youth – Africa – Political Participation – African Population – Political Integration – Youth Representation Electoral violence, youth, political participation, Africa
Statement: Between 1990 and 2015, about 60 per cent of elections in Africa experienced some form of electoral violence. Connecting the Dots: Youth Political
Participation and Electoral Violence in Africa Donnas Ojok Tony& Acol: Connecting the Dots Youth Political Participation and Electoral Violence in Africa – 2016.
Violent electoral occurrences in Africa are a result of planned strategic and coincidental influences. This has a grave impact as a threat to peace and security
on the continent while undermining the long-term development of democracy. Violence against others is revealed in socio-economic and political spheres through, intimidation, physical harassment, assault on journalists, rape and sexual harassment, imprisonment and assassinations, confrontations with security forces and attacks on the local community. In the political sphere, the type of violence is mostly triggered by the interaction of three principal agents: political parties, elite groups, and youth groups (or party youth wings). Youth also suffers from marginalisation in the workplace and potential institutional promotion through cultural bias, gender focus and poor network.
Mengistu states that in Africa, activities by youth consistently correlate with violence. Indeed, the young population in Africa is growing at an alarming rate. Young people in Africa continue to suffer high unemployment, poverty and social disruption in their lives. It is increasingly common to see the youth drawn into , Pinnet Mercy Consultancy
drugs, violence, criminal income sources, emigration, theft through gangs and predatory activities. It’s has been suggested by different researchers that these actions are a result of the youth being marginalised and social and economic exclusions by leaders.
2. The Youth
The YouthQuake phenomenon hit the UK, bringing about a revision on “Party Political” thinking for the future of Great Britain. We also see youth activity rise in the Black life Matters movement and increased call for accountability over security forces in the United States of America. The capacity of youth as political and socio economic voice has been facilitated by global social media forums and online interconnectedness.
The politicisation of the youth through social movements and transformative efforts has in current events found less structured templet of organisation seeking to enact change. Global leaders find in the western world an increasing politically active voice of the youth unwilling to submit to the status quo. Much like the Arab spring structure is produced post event.
- According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Bouazizi) The
Arab spring (Jasmine Revolution or Jasmine Spring) was led by the death of Muḥammad al-Būʿazīzī; 29 March 1984 – 4 January 2011) was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, which became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring against autocratic regimes. His self-immolation was in response to the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides.
- Despite islam rejecting suicide scholar fail to explain the revertce bestowed on Muhammad al Bu azizi that lead to In the six months immediately after Mohamed Bouazizi’s death on 4 January 2011, at least 107 Tunisians tried to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire. The men who self-immolated were mostly young unmarried men from poor, rural areas, and had only basic education.
The death of this young men followed international connection to his plight and suffering under autocratic reign of then-president of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on 14 January 2011, after 23 years in power. The success of the Tunisian protests inspired protests in several other Arab countries, plus several non-Arab countries.
In 2011, Bouazizi was posthumously awarded the Sakharov Prize jointly along with four others for his and their contributions to “historic changes in the Arab world”. The Tunisian government honored him with a postage stamp. The Times of the United Kingdom named Bouazizi as “Person of 2011”, The Jerusalem Post’s Amotz Asa-El named him “Person of the Jewish Year 5771” and “The Protester” was named Time 2011 Person of the Year.
In the time of reviewing this paper the death of George Floyd (45) led to a youth movement against tyranny, institutional abuse and human rights through the valuing of black lives. George Floyd finds himself an icon for the youth united again tyranny, autocracy and abuse following the recording of his death by Darnella Frazier according to THE SUN. The traumatic event has lead the young activist to suffer mental health challenges due to trauma. George Floyd’s death has connected to the youths passionate aggression against institutional abuse, systemic corruption and social advocacy. The youth’s Desiree for belonging, protection, value and defence of the weak forms a generational cycle which may be seen in the 1950’s anti segregation movement, the 1970’s anti colonialism and anti Vietnam wave. Be it in politics, fashion and science youth seek to have their voices heard as seen in the current Youth quake (The term was coined by Vogue magazine’s editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland in 1965): A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.
In Youthquake 2017 (https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319974682), Matt Henn and James Sloam discuss the Rise of young cosmopolitans in Britain. The book studies the reasons leading to the 2017 “youthquake” where the UK witnessed the highest rate of young voters in 25 years and a more significant proportion of Labour Party supporters than Conservatives.
The changes in youth involvement in the political affairs of the UK: the austerity measures put in place after the 2008 global financial crisis; EU referendum and popularity of Corbyn as leader of Labour; General Election in June 2017.
The book categorises universal, left-leaning opinions among millennials; young women and students in particular. The study also shows developments in other developed democratic societies: Obama in USA 2008 and Trudeau in Canada 2015.
All three political Leaders (Corbyn, Obama and Trudeau) provided aspirational policy agendas that appealed to the youth population in matters that were significant to their futures as citizens within the country.
Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib ( 2018) points to three possible predictors impact youth interaction in politics. It may be used to assess other relationships that the youth have with key stakeholders:
- level of trust in politicians or leaders,
- and party or personal identification.
3. Electrical Participation
The prominent electoral participation of the citizens includes going to vote while non-electoral partnership may consist of:
- Signing a petition,
- Taking part in a boycott
- Sharing political messages on social media
Youth detachment may include failure to vote while still participating in non- electoral activities. In rare cases, does the youth have a complete break of activistic actions? Young people have an ingrained distrust of conventional politics and leadership, due to the long-standing issues within the constitutional framework of their countries. They are, more likely to express their concerns and grievances through non-electoral, social media exchange.
The youth may relate with leadership in all in a. detached manner due to :
- Lack of depressed trust
- The transfer of policy-making to incorrect bodies, i.e. perceived
lack of honesty in a decision process
- Increasingly negative media representations of leaders in differ sphere: political, socio-economic, cultural
- The individualisation of values – focused on personal desires over
good or comported national agenda
- A decline in traditional structures of power, i.e. creation of division in political
parties, new management
- Alienated by leadership and institutions
- disillusioned by failed promises
- Increased dependence on social media
Mamadou Faye: “African Youth Integration In Politics”; African youths have always been very visible and vocal in their pursuit of political change. However, they have failed to fully integrate into the party politics of the continent. In Zimbabwe, the youth were pivotal in the liberation as foot soldiers and planners. The limited entrance of young people in strategic policy creation created a culture of generational youth detachment. That expects youth to wait their turn. The
perceived inconstancy of influence based on levels of partisan political activities has reduced input by many educated liberal youths in the politics of the nation.
This problem is exacerbated by a gerontic political class, that lacks the motivation to address the challenges of the future. Legal limitation of age hinders increased youth participation in areas of influence. Additional problems and challenges facing youth, besides internal conflict are international perceptions, morals and exceptions that highlight successful western Millenials as the only ideal characterisation. Africans need to allow the youth to help shape their own destiny, vision and political integration would be an essential step in that direction.
Different countries have different grouping for youth, but this review will Look at the ages based on the African charter. The African Youth Charter: the youth or young people shall refer to every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years. According to Mamadou, this definition takes into consideration the development realities of Africa. It defines youth in the context of Africa. Although setting the age range was vigorously argued among African youth, politicians, and experts, it is indicative of the mindset of the heads of state who finally, ratified it.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight argument already made on behalf of the youth and linking the political awareness in younger generation. The educated youth and thus future middle are key to to the continents innovation, politics and socioeconomic development. Failure to value youth empowerment will hinder the continents skills level and development. The youths continue to meet political unwillingness, patrician politics and cultural status quo. The paper recognises that the youth is limited in capacity, skill, resource, tools. The use of peer mentoring ie youth to youth would be highly effective in reducing this.
According to Momngistu in Africa, there are no wider political spaces for youth to have a chance to make their voices heard and to shape their future destinies. With limited political parties, set protocol and structures, increased in fighting of leaders and repression of governments. The youth voice id repeatedly bombarded and limited. When youth are continually excluded from decision-making processes, on their own and societal affaires by and large, they will face the psychological trauma of hopelessness and misery in their life. Africa is known by its repeated promises for its youth. Better education, good jobs, political room for youth is the common slogans of politicians. Sadly enough, none of them had made them true in actual contexts.
From its demographic importance, it is unquestionable that youth deserve a huge share of developmental investments. So, addressing issues concerning the youth should remain salient in Africa in particular and the global community in general.
Therefore, as Kofi Anan, the then UN secretary general said: “Young people should be in the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can
be agents of development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of the societies”.
6. Youth Efforts
In Zimbabwe youth efforts to amplify their voice include writing magazines such as Youth Focus an online youth and youthful centred magazine. the major challenges that efforts by youth without key network, or patricians lining have is funding. Lack of Funding hinder youth efforts to enter into Business and communicate their vision.
In the matter of politics three forms of non-electoral political participation are considered: Signed a petition;
- • •
Shared a political/environmental message on social media;
Bought or boycotted a product for ethical, political or environmental reasons; Worn or displayed a campaign badge or sticker; and Gone on a demonstration or attended a rally.
Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib, 2018, states that lack of Party identification is strongly associated with non-electoral politics in comparison to other possible predictors, such as educational attainment and political distrust.
In social spehere the youth have attempted to speak out indifferent manners:
- The youths have attempted to increase their influence through local media, where they have gained international attention and social impact. This has however not necessarily been translated into political influence. Through the creation of strategic vacuums the political has elite has silenced the youth by subbing them.
- The traditional African culture, that tends to be patriarchal has also been
oppressive to youths contribution, and repeatedly refuses them audience or addressing social needs presented by the youth without leadership support
- One of the most ironic challenges to the youth has been the gender movements that in many African countries acts a feminism mouth piece. This competitive
relationship has planted seed of the duvet that will be reaped in the future
- Youths are seen as power-grabbers.
- In the political history of Africa, it is rare to find a president or prime minister who is below 60 years old. This is a problem by itself.
- Youth may start to lose hope and consider that they have no any part in the political aspects.
The fact that the youths are financially limited, socially struggling and lack institutional uniformity has been used to increase the divide and reduce their voices.
7. Background of Youth Impact
The Youths highly desire to participate in the day to day social, economic, and political activities of their countries. Youth in Africa suffer an unfavourable and uninviting environment thus a hindering participation to the Afrobarometer, (Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib, 2018) In Africa the youth violence is reduced in direct proportion to the level of participation in electoral democracies.
Hypothesis 1. Young people who are more highly educated are more likely to participate in non-electoral forms of politics. Educated youths are more likely to have greater options when it comes to jobs and geographic location ie medical students are head hunted by western government agencies and have easier migration.
Hypothesis 2. Young people who are less trusting of politicians are more likely to participate in non-electoral forms of politics. The less trusting the youth are in the leadership, the increase in their innovation, increasing efforts in obtaining protection and property rights assurance. Increased potential of starting their own company.
Hypothesis 3. Young people who identify with the Parties are more likely to participate in non-electoral forms of politics. The decision to enter into party politics enables movement and voice within structure. Entrance into the market place ie management trainee jobs enables them to influence the corporate vision and trajectory.
8. Governance vesus Populism
African youth are not at in the orbit. They are rather observers of their older generations. So, it indicates that youth should be empowered to actively participate in the economic and political areas.
The key to all empowerment is access to resources and capacity to make wealth. The integrating of the youth in entrepreneurial activities will provide time to think in progressive manner of how to influence the country without hindrances based on financial dependents.
The Zimbabwean government in 2019 initiated a program to encourage companies to higher the youth despite potential limitations in experience. By providing corporate tax breaks, increased loans and the creation of a youth bank increased perception of youth empowerment was found in the nation. The extended impact was limited by hyper inflation, the Covid-19 outbreak and underling culture of corruption. The partisan bias, institutional corruption that is conceived as part of the nation has hindered the overarching success of the project. Despite the fact that, exposing youth into the working environments and supporting their entrepreneurship and strengthen the youth cooperatives and micro and small business enterprises has a big plus to laid a foundation for the political involvement of young peoples (Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib, 2018).
Researchers such as Milton Mutto states that marginalisation in turn contributes to youth feeling s of hopelessness and powerlessness. This is also mentioned as one of the pushing factors for the young people to tend into illegal activities with a hope to be heard by the government and the public as well. The increased migration of the Youth in Africa is also a sense of voting with their feet.
As human resource is truly the greatest resource for any institution, this must be so more for a nation. The failure to use the youth as a great resource has lead to political and social instability as seen in 2011/12 Arab spring uprising, the numerous civil conflicts that feed of the youth population and xenophobic tendencies in South Africa, and around the World.
The failure to address the sense of not belonging ing the youth will lead to conflict and regression of development. Zimbabwe during the Covid-19 pandemic had not addressed its political detachment to the diaspora population. The forced return of many youth due to “health deportations” has grave internal risk for the nation.
Politics in Africa is seen as the engine of development, initiative and change, Youth inclusion in the political aspects of Africa is very critical in a sense that it is a great machinery to reinvent the governance structure of Africa. Therefore, creating an enabling and equitable environment for youth in Africa is unquestionable.
In 2010, 70 percent of the African population was under 30 years old and slightly more than 20 per cent were between the ages of 15 to 24 . These figures are a
result of high fertility rates and low life expectancy. According to the UN: “In 2015, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa, accounting for 19 per cent of the global youth population. By 2030, it is projected that the number of youth in Africa will have increased by 42 per cent. Africa’s youth population is expected to
continue to grow throughout the remainder of the 21st century, more than doubling from current levels by 2055.“
As the medium age of African populations is under 30 years, political actors have understood that the youth’s potential in winning elections cannot be neglected any
more. Therefore, both the youth and well-established political actors try to benefit from each other: youths offer their votes and politicians provide short-term benefits.
A study on Uganda’s political arena in 2016 reveals, “youth demographic dominance is used to champion the interests of particular dominant elites with no or little response to youth issues
The Diplomacy of Youth relations has continued to be biased even in the business arena. Innovations of youth are rarely funded but tend to be coopted into existing structure. While this may happen in the western World, the fact that in Africa the best a youth may gain is being coopted at worst having their idea stolen outright. Without non political philanthropy the continent finds the youth incasing frustrated.
The traditional-culturing of work environment through ageism and totems uses at work have tended for years to be a challenge in boardroom interactions. Relations at work to the youth are many times clouded by cultural norms that seek to impose submission on the African youth regardless of the institutional position. The labelling of a person as a mother or father or parent figure decreases the capacity of the youth to rebuke, argue and correct the individual as required.
11. Future of Politics
As stated before between 1990 and 2015, about 60 per cent of elections in Africa
experienced some form of electoral violence. At the centre of these violent encounters are the African youth. Many societies in contemporary Africa are now coming to terms with the fact that youth questions, if not fully addressed, are a ticking time bomb ready to explode.
With two-thirds of the continent’s population are under the age of 35 years –
making it the most ‘youthful’ continent – but, more importantly, because a plethora of youth engagements are creating either progressive or digressive ripple effects across the continent (Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib,2020).
It can be argued that young people find themselves embroiled in this undemocratic mess because of the hopeless and disadvantaged status they occupy within the current African political landscape.
Despite the fact of under representation the youth continues to be part of the instigators of violence, the Zimbabwean election in 2018 repeated the culture of politicians using the youth as human shields to attain their agenda. The opposition party was accused of drugging the youth and then motivating them to march towards security forces in a volatile situation. The ruling party ZANUPF has members who in turn are said to have used the youth to attack communities from outside their home areas for payment in money, drugs, alcohol and food.
The exploitation of the youth for status, sex and violence has made in the political arena, African politics a war of the elite and the fight of the youth. The youth becomes the collateral damage for institute success and status quo.
Why the youth continue to allow themselves to be abused in the political sphere and in other areas is a result of the social trauma of Africa. Most of the youth come from homes that suffer abuse internally or have been abused the security forces, the youth are seeking a way out of the cycle of poverty and as others have been lifted so each one hopes to find an exit door.
The former government of Robert Mugabe is rumoured by insiders to have used youths in various means. Young girls are exchanged as sexual favours to lift other up up or lift them selves out of mediocrity. Young man willing to do anything will be brought closer to the elite and the potential to exit one stage of abuse, and attain
the opportunity to abuse others in a like. (Donnas Ojok Tony Acol Connecting the Dots_ Youth Political Participation and Electoral Violence in Africa – D.Ojok T.Acol.pdf
Sexual favours or bribes for marks at tertiary institutions only forms a layers of the abuse of the youth by leadership and stakeholders. The increased abuse and exchange of women at the workplace tends to affect young women more than the more mature. These factors are part of a corrupt and detached culture of national leadership that fails to care for the weak and instead targets them for personal sentient gratification. However continued disempowerment of the youth will affect the social psyche, the social moral campus and the mental health reality of nations for generations.
11.1 Blackmail Theory
The Culture of African Politics as for the past decades included dispute of results. Why do opposition leaders and/or opposition political parties dispute election results? According Hueta (2015) states that the electoral blackmail theory may be used to understand the concept. He argues that electoral losers challenge electoral results to strengthen their own capacity for negotiation with the newly elected
government. The theory of electoral blackmail contends that losing political forces, in exchange for conceding defeat, are interested in: reforming the electoral
process; legislating key issues to further their parties’ agendas; getting pork barrel; filling committee chairs in congress/parliament in order to gain influence over the legislative process; obtaining cabinet positions; appointing members of their party as judges; and so on.
So all over Africa we see a culture of refusing the results beefier they are counted, the proclamation of corruption by all others but self. It’s important to note that most of African youth have matured under this status quo. It’s also important to note that this political habits has social and institutional reaffirmations that these leaders will not feel comfortable with once in power.
The lack of ethics in politics, social interaction with the youth has hindered social cohesion and increased tensions at work and homes. As youth are considered ungrateful, greedy and unethical while out playing their leaders on the same game platform.
With youth being incasing involved in violence in politics and others spheres. There is importance to note that youth instigated violence is founded on structural faults that are not being addressed.
The disappointment of the youth in Africa towards leadership inconstancies and failure to defend them in times of need, has reduced the pull factor to the youth. The failure to attacks the youth and hold their commitment has impacted many locally based businesses, political efforts and national visions. The development of Africa is based on use of educated youth and the skills developed. The routine
leaving off skilled labour will impact future development and national identity as migration becomes the aim and not an options.
11.3 National integrity
The identity of the youth is key to the national identity. the rejection of the youth is the rejection of the identity that encompasses them. The sense of hopelessness, rejection and mental stress increases as the youth face challenges at home, with life and then also with social identity. The fear of the future and their purpose impacts the youths alliance to the nation, state and government.
12. Politics in History
Even though the term youth is widely reviewed in literatures, however, there is not yet a rigid and precise definition of it. Some agreed that it encompasses the age bracket that extends from 15 to 24 years (for example, United Nations), while others stretch it from 15 to 35 years. Therefore, the historical background, the socio-economic and political realities and situations on the ground are determinants to define youth of a nation or an institution.
12.1 Politics of Youth
A general improvement has been noted in Africa in respect to youth involvement, partly because of the rising consciousness of states and the external pressures including globalisation and democratisations, which give due emphasis for the youth participation in the political and economic spheres of influences.
Given the fact that Africa is young in democracy and its political institutions are not well established, youth are excluded from important decision making processes. Most often than not, governments and policy makers in Africa are reluctant to include youth in the formal political systems.
The simple truth may not be as valuable to African leaders, the potential costs of failure may be more attractive as a tool to ensure proactive efforts are applied. The repeated compilations of reports that affirm that the afire can youth unceasingly feel marginalised in each generation, has weighty consequences for the continued existence of institutional structures and the development of the nation. The failure to use mentoring to transfer loyalty, vision and identity will assure the death of many laudable efforts of the past.
The contused relationship of Africas institutional leadership and the youth will bring about septic experiences that harm the continent and its future is not addressed. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2016/03/02/social-media-lockdown- and- elections-in-uganda/
12.2 Potentials issues
The Youth question is a political, economic and social issue that must be addressed by each generation of leaders with humility and willingness to listen and not just hear what is communicated to them. Failure to listen to the needs of the youth will progressively increase frustration. Especially when a generation that sought to be heard, in turns becomes a leadership that reflects the epithet of Youth marginalisation and thus viewed less favourably.
It’s up to the African leadership, gender advocates, diversity mangers and those who apply institutional policy to promote youth focus and mentoring to ensure the success of todays leaders and the maturing tomorrows.
There is urgent need to create multiple economic opportunities for youth across all sectors. This will play crucial roles in erasing the predisposing factors to violence such as poverty, which make youth violent. There is also an overarching strategy to sensitise youth and promote their engagement in politics always. While youth engagement during the polls and corporate success heightens, there is, however, always a tendency for youth focus to disengage during down days polls closure or economic deflations. The anticipated deflation of the economy post Covid-19 must be proactively addressed to ensure that the youth do not suffer the brunt of corporate and political marginalisation.
In the current generation of social media the youth is more prone to monitor and hold leaders to account beyond good times. The youth have a duty to engage with community leadership and not focus on their own diversity but on what binds them together. True peace and development in Africa is dependent on the youth seeking unofficial platforms to communicate, holding leaders to account and being willing to buildup each other up while reaching out to other segments of society. It’s a known truth that youth does not know it all, that the youth like all members of society require input, Capacitation and peer management. The failure to aid the youth is not solely they responsibility but the communal responsibility of all stakeholders who must address the issue without competition, antagpoinims but with a willingness to learn and understand to be effect in adding value to the Youth factor.
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