Sub-Saharan Africa Youth Issues

Chapter 5 Sub-Saharan African Uprisings



Rural school children in a crowded and poorly equipped Tanzanian government school. What you see are their only supplies.


My sole purpose on earth is to shake the world really hard until the world stands up and notices. I want to be a living testimony of true hard work and pure dedication. I would like to be the first astronaut from my country.

Banele, 14, m, South Africa


What bothers me most in life is just seeing people suffer in terms of hunger and from diseases such as HIV/AIDS. To stay calm, I usually write poems about everything I see happening around me. I would like to make sure that every woman who is abused will stand up and fight against the abuse of women and children. Nsingwane, 16, f, South Africa


The rest of the world seems to be playing games with the youth of the 3rd world countries. I see the effect of negative globalization every day deteriorating every aspect of the society. Taika, 18, f, Ethiopia


It is the youth who are going to mobilize people and bring awareness [about issues like genital mutilation] from one village to another, to parents, other youth, mothers, young girls, everyone—to the whole community.[1] Yaya Baldé, Tostan Youth Program Facilitator (The endnote includes a link to interviews with youth activists in West Africa)


Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela


A wind is blowing. It is heading south, and won’t be suppressed forever.

Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai.


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. African proverb


Contents: Youth Issues; Development Strategies, Uprisings Debate; Sudan’s and Burkina Faso’s Rebellion; South African Youth


Youth Issues

Africa is the world’s youngest continent having the greatest percentage of youth. More than half of Sub-Saharan Africans (SSA) are under age 25 and nearly half are under age 14. Africa has over 200 million people ages 15 to 24.[2] In 2014 the population of Africa was 1.1 billion, expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050. The average woman gives birth to 5.5 children, the highest fertility rate in the world. Strong economies are needed to take advantage of the youth dividend, as in Ghana and Namibia. Helpful government programs are spelled out in a Population Reference Bureau article.[3]

Most Africans live in rural areas (63% according to a UN Habitat study in 2010), and 48 million youth are illiterate.[4] Radio is the main source of news in some areas and can be controlled by governments, and the educated new middle-class urban populations may not be interested in political change. Africa is changing rapidly, seemingly more than any other region, composed of 47 countries with nearly one billion people. The population will double by 2050, the young continent in the world. The youth dividend means that Africa will have more working-age adults than children in 2030. Youth are more likely to live in rural areas than cities.

Although only about 10% of Africans had access to the Internet in 2014,[5] satellite TV and smart phones bring Al Jazeera, BBC World and CNN news to the masses. Phones also enable money transfers and independence from physical bank locations. Cell phone use has exploded faster than access to electricity, secondary school enrollment doubled in the past decade, and urbanization rapidly expanded to include 40% of Africans.[6] Economies grew with the stimulus of Chinese purchases of raw materials; however, that stimulus slowed with Chinese financial problems. The fastest growing economies are Rwanda, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Samuel, a SpeakOut high school student in Addis Ababa (age 16), repeats a global theme that his generation is less superstitious, more rational, more technological, and less formal and respectful. He plans on becoming a psychiatrist. He points out with technology available to young people, “the sky is our limit” if they work hard and aren’t slackers. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said Africa is consuming technology, but not producing it, although technology is required to connect people with solutions. The digital divide is leaving more women behind than men: “Getting women involved is a policy decision,” he said at the Davos World Social Forum in 2016.[7]

SpeakOut student Ahorlu complains (16, f) that youth in South Africa are ignored in the second largest economy in SSA:


The present day youth in SSA are neglected and nobody trusts in our ability. We often hear the government and the leaders of the world talking about youth unemployment and under-employment. If you should ask me most of the talks are not yielding results in addressing the situation. The youth should be given the chance to help in providing solutions.[8]


The generation gap is noticeable. Young people criticize tribal traditions, such as Kenyan university student Eunice Kilonzo who blogs against tribalism.[9] Educated youth with new ideas oppose traditional tribal aristocracies.[10] A discussion of popular Nollywood comedy films made in Nigeria reported that traditional African respect for elders is contrasted with contemporary young people portrayed as disrespectful and a threat to adults, materialistic schemers who will cheat their own family members to get money.[11] Young men are especially obnoxious in these Nigerian films. They make about 2,500 movies a year, second only to Bollywood, and explore the tension between urban and village life and Christianity and traditional beliefs like witchcraft. Comparing respect for adults with the informality in the US, a Rwandan orphan assisted by an NGO to study at Harvard University observed, “In Rwanda, we have a different way of talking to adults. We don’t shout. We don’t be rowdy. But here, you think independently.”[12] Another difference is Americans do things fast and they tell you their experiences.

SpeakOut student Nomthandazo, 16, compares her life with her parents’ childhoods were young in South Africa.


My parent’s generation is different from my age group because they mostly lived according to their culture and customs. They were scared to talk or reveal facts about diseases like HIV that eats our people. I guess they were not told to. Their education system was very poor; their technology advancement was very weak compared to ours. They also experienced oppression and corporal punishment during the apartheid era.


I also asked Maame (age 23), who lives in Accra, Ghana, about difference between her parents’ generation and hers: “My parents had more informal training than I did [she went to a public boarding high school where water was very scarce]. They were more handy and self-sufficient at my age than I am now. They didn’t have this influx of technology, which meant they spent more time chatting with their grandparents, listening to advice from elders, spending time on the farm and doing more manual work.” I asked her about differences between Ghana and Pennsylvania where she got a scholarship to attend college:

1) Individualism versus communal life in Ghana

2) Variety of products, e.g., ten different types of cereal or laundry detergent. We have a variety of products here but not as many.

3) Racism in US vs. classism in Ghana

4) Basic things taken for granted in the US, like running water, food, electricity 

5) Many Americans are very patriotic even with the injustices going on. They will support America and hold on to their citizenship with their dear life.


African youth are the first generation to have access to sophisticated technology. Facebook reported 38 million African users in 2011 but only 5% Africans were connected to the Internet and 600 million lack electricity.[13] Teens frequently text, as in other parts of the world.[14] This is the first generation to have access to cell phones and many report obsession with them, as in the West. The World Bank reported over 650 million mobile users in Africa. A college student in Rwanda said her friends text each other even if they’re in the same place, including religious services. Teens are the biggest group of users. In some countries more people have access to phones than clean water or electricity, so the phone becomes a multi-service device. The cell phone is used as a bank, for Internet and email use, and instruction such as at Namibia’s Polytechnic. Youth manage the mobile phone kiosks that provide a variety of services, a source of much needed employment.

From Ethiopia, SpeakOut student Taika, observes:


I believe a lot of changes are occurring in Africa. I always wonder if it is actually for the betterment of the continent. I ask if Africa is changing in a direction that the rest of the world wants it to follow (for their own benefits) or in a path that can restore the power of the continent. When I say this, it doesn’t mean I am disregarding the changes in infrastructure, health programs, etc.

I feel like Westerners are trying to help or make a difference not for our sake but for themselves. [Over half the Ethiopian budget comes from Western aid.[15]] I feel like they are preparing a land where they can settle in when things fall apart. It is true that we’re closer to nature than the others. And whether we like it or not, nature is our paradise and what will save us at the end. You might ask me why we haven’t changed things yet and my answer is we are still colonized. This one is actually worst than the previous colonization. Because now we aren’t physically colonized but rather mentally which is harder to overcome.


Education and youth poverty and unemployment are discussed on the book webpage.[16]


Development Strategies

In Ghana, Mabel Ahorlu doesn’t feel youth are respected. She is trying to start a company to employ other youth but she has not found financial backers despite the UN’s Youth Agenda target of reducing the number of NEETs. A Pan African Youth Union provides a network for young people and an African Union (AU) Youth Volunteer Corps encourages youth service. The AU Youth Charter encouraged the increase in national youth policies to 32 countries in 2016, up from 23 in 2014. Most of the new constitutions mention rights of children and youth. Knowing that youth are discontent with employment opportunities and government corruption, more African governments are interested in youth development programs. The UN developed a plan to include youth in African development.[17] The IMF reported that economic growth averaged 5% in 2014, compared to 2.7% worldwide, but much of this is from extraction of natural resources that don’t go to the people.

Without oil wealth, Rwanda is at the forefront of change from seeking donors to attracting investors, planning to develop a knowledge economy with young entrepreneurs to leapfrog into the industrial stage.[18] The Rwandan government made ICT available as with building national fiber-optic lines, provides technology development centers, and a solar-powered Internet school. A NGO called Educate! Teaches entrepreneurial skills to secondary school students. Malawi’s government rebelled against donors like the World Bank and IMF, reacting to a maize shortage in 2005 by providing a $74 million in subsidies for subsistence farmers.[19] The plan worked to so that Malawi was able to export maize. The government aims to increase the use of organic fertilizers and sustainable farming techniques.

Felix reports from Zambia:


It is not so much about forming youth organizations that will address developmental challenges in Africa but allowing Africa to have its own perspective of development, governance, and politics. It is so sad that most African countries feel inferior to express who they are and what works for them. African long workable [traditional] policies are never implemented successfully. Why? The answer is simple; it is not the African way of doing it, but a copied way doing things from western lifestyles.


When I asked about the African way, Felix said it’s not liberal democracy but monarchy and that Africa skipped the gradual process from agrarian to industrialization, although development should be gradual. Policies should be chosen from the bottom up rather than being imposed from the top. When I asked him what he would do if he were a monarch, he said he would target “emancipation education” with the goal of not just learning a subject like Algebra but teaching how to tackle poverty. (Rob, 16, agrees that, “the California school system does not teach material in high school that we actually need to know.”) This involves teaching creativity and innovation rather than old theories. He would also slow population growth.

Wiza Jalakasi is a 23-year-old techie entrepreneur from Malawi who launched his first start-up as a teenager.[20] Regarding development strategies, he wrote on,


One of the biggest problems I see at present is the lack of true African stories. Everything you read online about startup success is typically about a white male who dropped out of an Ivy League school, raised a ton of money and built a company with it. Where are the African stories? That’s why I’m writing this blog.

Secondly, the global media has such a pessimistic narrative of Africa as a continent. I think the world is really changing and Africa really is rising, despite what the media says. The solutions for Africa, solving African problems will come out of Africa and be championed by Africans.


A major issue throughout Africa is wealthy countries like China and Saudi Arabia buying huge tracts of the most fertile land and water sources, pushing out poor farmers. Taika commented from Ethiopia,” It is true that land is being bought by the wealthy countries. When the companies start their business on the fertile lands, it is obvious that we will get some benefit. But, the local farmers are being pushed away and also the fertile land is being degraded; after 20 or 30 years, the companies will leave with a land that can’t be reused ever.” Foreigners took over about 227 million hectares of land in Africa in the last decade, according to an Oxfam report (one hectare equals about 2.5 acres).[21] A Nigerian banker, Lamido Sanusi complained, “China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism.”[22] When I was in Tanzania I heard that traditional African fabrics are now made in China (in Istanbul I heard the ancient Grand Bazar is really the Chinese Bazar). Edith Nawakwi, the head of an opposition party in Zambia, recommended, “What we need is a change in the way we approach China. You get from China what you ask for,” which should be infrastructure that enables economic development.[23]

Another hindrance to development is government corruption. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation grants an annual good governance award for African leaders who excel in office and leave at the end of their term of office. It was only able to give three awards of the $5 million prize, to former heads of Cape Verde, Botswana, and Mozambique, because of the prevalence of corruption and leaders who overstay their term of office. The Foundation found that 32 out of 50 African countries declined in implementing the rule of law since 2000. However, Mr. Ibrahim is hopeful about youth changing corrupt government: “Africa is changing and the young African generation is different. It is a better educated people…the sense of duty, the whole political atmosphere around the issue of leadership is changing.”[24]

Felix emphasized about African development:

To most learned and educated Africans, Africa needs more than this adopted way of doing things. Most people do not realize that culture shock is what Africa has experienced since colonization up to present, thus, to change, serious and drastic emancipation is urgently needed. The time is now to allow both young and adults to find viable solutions to the issues Africa is facing. For the old folks, flexibility is important and must be embraced, and for my fellow youths, experience is what we cannot do away with needing. Hence, these old lads are needed, but the caution is that time and time again, there is a virus somewhere in our way to development.

This virus comes in the name of dependency syndrome, inferiority perceptions, greediness, ignorance, lack of creative and innovative minds, jealousy, envy, external influence, propaganda, and corruption. In summary this is the cancer and poison of Africa. Thus, in order to develop, Africa needs to fight these evils, unlike what is happening. It is not about the governments and their systems but the above. Most importantly it is now time to emulate the good sides of different cultures and find what can be adopted and taken up. “African challenges need African solutions.”


Critiquing a draft of the chapter, Taika added,


I share some ideas with what Felix is saying. In Ethiopia, there are many youth organizations that are being formed and most are under the supervision of the government and not in a productive way. They are not encouraged to be innovative or challenging. All they are expected to do is comply with the rules and regulations of the government. In a country that claims to be democratic, the youth are contributing less to the concept of democracy. [Six bloggers were arrested in 2015 for reporting on political issues in their blog Zone9, named after a prison for political prisoners. Three journalists were also jailed, charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.] To add to that the rest of the world seems to be playing games with the youth of the 3rd world countries. I see the effect of negative globalization every day deteriorating every aspect of the society.


I asked Taika to explain what she meant by the world playing games with youth.


Many years ago while Africans were fighting for their freedom and the black Americans were struggling to free themselves, the youth played very important roles in accomplishing their goals. I feel like now the western world has made sure that we are confused enough about our identity and we are not taught to challenge our surrounding and the Western [influence], so that we accept whatever they dump on us. Everything single concept imported to Africa comes with not only the face forward product but also an inner motive, e.g. movies.


From Ghana, Maame (age 23) reported about the negative legacy of colonialism,


Africans still have a slavery mentality and do things like they are still in the slavery era. Of course this is changing rapidly today but the effects of colonialism still linger in our society. In terms of Africans adopting Western ways of things, which definitely affects us because the Western countries are far ahead of us in industrialization and their cultural contexts are different from ours, so adopting and assimilating Western ways of being is not always the best decision. It is good to pick the good and try to see how it fits in with our culture but we usually copy blindly.


An outstanding example of youth-led community development, Kennedy Odede grew up in one of the largest African slums called Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. He described his struggle in Find Me Unafraid (2015). His mother struggled to save $3 to pay for the informal school since there are no government schools or other services in the slums including sanitation or water and power, but they were turned away because tuition was $5 a month. As a girl his mother wasn’t sent to school because “a girl reading was rebellion.” She secretly taught herself. Odede learned basics from other boys who were able to go to school. His family couldn’t afford to buy water, so his mother filtered sewage water through sand. They shack was invested with lice and fleas but soap wasn’t affordable either. Their only book was the Bible. His drunken stepfather beat him more severely than the rest of the family, so Odede left home to join a gang of street boys at age 10. They stole to eat, picked through garbage in more prosperous areas, or sniffed glue to muffle hunger pangs. When his best friend was killed by a mob for stealing, a common occurrence, he left the gang. He found a priest who would help him out and gave him a dictionary, but the priest returned to Italy and was replaced by a pedophile priest who painfully molested the boy. Odede then learned from a Rastafarian group and was influenced by reading books by Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandala, and Marcus Garvey who advocated “Africa for Africans.”

When he was 16, Odede made a soccer ball out of trash in order to provide something positive for slum children, the beginning of SHOFCO, Shining Hope for Communities in 2004. He explained, “I was tired of being angry. I was tired of violence. Enough is enough.” He thought if he could bring the community together having fun, good would result. After a game, they decided to start a lending group similar to one his mother started for neighborhood women, a plan called “pass it forward” where instead of paying a loan back, the recipient picks another person to receive the loan. Odede and his friends did street theater to protest rape, a common problem even for little girls in such a crowded community where children are often unsupervised, police accept bribes from rapists, and elections are rigged.

When he gathered seven friends to start SHOFCO, one of them asked if he had a white donor, reflecting the common belief that change could only come with Western support and knowhow. Odede knew that grassroots organizing and community involvement is the only effective solution. He quoted his mother, “Only he who wears the shoe knows how it pinches” and “When a snake bites you, don’t spend time looking for a spear. Use what ever stick you have.” He replied that they didn’t need money to clean the streets, organize co-ed soccer, do journalism, or perform street theater to expose problems and solutions to protect girls and women from abuse. He said they were starting a movement, which happens when “you have been pushed to the wall and all you can do is bounce back.”[25] They were joined by some members of the Catholic church youth group that expelled Odede because he advocated condoms to prevent HIV infection, although it remains a major cause of death for young people, especially girls due to early marriage and sexual abuse. Hundreds joined in their first cleanup effort, singing together as they worked. Next they organized a women’s empowerment program called SWEP.

In 2007, after four years of organizing, the SHOFCO performance group was invited to the World Social Forum. They made T-shirts and bracelets to sell for fund raising and performed his play “Another World is Possible.” By this time SHOFCO had thousands of members, mostly young people and women of various ages. The slum community called Odede the Mayor. With the help of Jessica Posner, a Wesleyan African Studies student on her junior year abroad in 2007, they got grant funding. Posner insisted on staying in his shack to experience the community, talking a bath in two plastic pans of water, using the outdoor pit latrine, and getting scabies and malaria. Without electricity, Odede used a battery-powered radio. Despite these difficulties, they fell in love and eventually married after he graduated from Wesleyan. At the university he was amazed by the running water in the shower and the abundance of food in the cafeteria that didn’t run out. SHOFCO applied for grants from Echoing Green, Dell Social Innovation Competition, Do Something Award, America’s Top World Changer, 25 and Under, and Newman’s Own Foundation.

These grants enabled SHOFCO to build a girls’ school called the Kibera School for Girls in 2009 to be the center of community transformation, a community center, toilets and clean water, a medical clinic including AIDS treatment, a nutrition program, a preschool and day care. Other community development projects were a cleanup program, computer education, and providing sanitary napkins to schools so girls could attend. They started a boarding house for girls who were abused and raped, unsafe at home, and a community group to advocate for rape victims in the legal system. Odede also organized the Urban Network, called SUN, for young people and women to organize for their rights and start businesses. Facilitators lend money enabling slum dwellers to create over 400 businesses a year. The reason for their success is Odede involved the community and overcame tribal rivalries, as by including girls from different tribes in the school (last names indicate tribal background, similar to caste in India.) Parents don’t pay tuition but volunteer at the school for five weeks a year overseen by a parents’ committee. He understood the informal hierarchy that must be involved for a project to be successful in a way that an outsider wouldn’t know.

When tribal violence threatened in 2014, Odede brought together community leaders and their wives to sign a peace declaration and a thousand people marched in support of peace. The same year they opened a girls’ school in Mathare, the second largest slum in Nairobi, led by young people from the community. Odede and Posner aim to spread these programs throughout Africa. Posner explained, “In communities where there is greater gender inequality there is greater poverty, and we believe this is because women are so central to development and family.” They’re included in The Path Appears book and film by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky (2010) about the status of women globally.[26]

Regarding development efforts by large formal organizations, UN’s Youth Agenda aims to reduce the number of NEETs. The UN appointed the first youth envoy in 2013. Ahmad Alhendawi, 29, is from Jordan and worked in Cairo. He pointed to UN data indicating that literacy rates in Africa increased to 67% of girls and 78% of boys by 2013 and that the first priority for youth is education and the second is access to health care systems.[27] His job is to promote the UN’s World Programme of Action for Youth approved in 1995. He focuses on job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth knowing that high unemployment leads to unrest; “a ticking time bomb” about to explode as Zambia’s finance minister described the problem.[28] As the largest group of eligible voters, Alhendawi advocates that youth get involved in local governments. Many UN agencies work with African youth including UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNECCA (UN Economic Commission for Africa.) A UN Fact Sheet reported that many African youth policies have “significant shortcomings” and recommended that youth be approached as valuable resource rather than as the source of problems.[29]

All African countries except Morocco are members of the African Union (AU), a pan-African organization that aims for African solutions to African problems. The Youth and the African Union Commission provides updates online.[30] Felix observes that these organizations are often ineffective:


It is amazing and shocking if you look at the times spent on meetings at national, regional and continental levels on poverty reduction, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, development and good governance, yet what is happening at the grassroots is deteriorating with the continuation of the widening gap between the poor and rich. Change is only possible if we can trace the roots of this confusion, which some people think can be sorted out in mere planned and funded meetings. That has failed but it seems no one is willing to see and make drastic changes that will only come from inclusive leadership and governance. The major questions are what have the meetings of African leaders yielded positively after lots of years of political freedom? Should such expensive gatherings continue when the vast population is still very poor? Will African leaders ever know how to differentiate politics from development?


The African Union (AU) created the African Youth Charter in 2006, implemented three years later, a framework for how to develop youth policies and empower youths. It requires African countries to adopt a national youth policy but it’s still not ratified by all the African Union members (31 countries ratified by 2013). Countries like Ghana limited youth input into their policy and youth were excluded from its implementation after the decade-long process.[31] The AU included a youth division in its New Partnership for Africa’s Development and ratified the 2009-2018 AU Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment and Development, a volunteer corps, and African Youth Day.

The first Pan African Youth Leadership Forum’s theme in 2007 was titled the “New Generation of Leaders.” The theme of the fourth Forum in 2014 was “The Evolving Role of Africa’s Greatest Resource, The Youth.” Since 2002 the African Youth Parliament developed action plans for youth enterprise, HIV/AIDS, the environment, armed conflict, and culture and identity.[32] Oxfam’s International Youth Parliament sponsored it. An example of a regional group is the Mano River Union Youth Parliament, developed by the West African Youth Network for youth in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in 2003 at a peace-building seminar. The Youth for Peace in Africa is a continent-wide organization.

Priority youth issues for government youth policies are employment (training, apprenticeships, and career counseling as in Senegal’s Office for Youth Employment), participation (youth congresses and parliaments, volunteering), and education and health (including protection from violence and bullying, and providing drug and AIDS education). As many as 11 million young will enter the labor market every year for the next decade. The Brookings Institution lobbies for a better connection between the skills of young people and the skills needed by employers. The World Bank suggests that governments should implement better vocational and technology education; an example is the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund that pays for vocational training and business startup (Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 60% youth unemployment.[33]) Ghana and Nigeria created a national youth service and job skills training. Nigeria’s YouWin funds young entrepreneurs. Mauritius organized vocational education.

Zambia’s youth policy includes a youth enterprise fund to stimulate job growth. Nigeria’s YouWin also funds young entrepreneurs. Other governments started young entrepreneurship programs in South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. Public works programs hire unskilled youth to work doing reforestation, urban sanitation, etc., as in Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. National service programs provide similar work programs in Nigeria and South Africa. SSA’s task is to implement development tactics that build on local cultures. Nigerian scholar Akin Iwilade is optimistic that “Africa is at last showing signs of emerging from its underdevelopment,” partly because youth activists bring up issues of democratic governance.


Uprisings Debate

No African Spring Occurred

Young Africans worked for liberation from colonial rule and then young radicals turned to local issues and were influenced by Third World Marxism and Black Power Internationalism.[34] They worked in student organizations. Young people rebelled against government policies in street protests in Sudan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Nigeria, Mozambique, Senegal, and South Africa. Like other young protesters against corruption and inequality, activists lack a plan for replacing the current neoliberal system as politics revert to the familiar. This is the observation of a Mozambican scholar Alcinda Honwana based on her interviews with youths.[35]

Did young rebels lead an African Spring? Some observers maintain that SSA lacks an African Spring without the necessary conditions of democratic ideals and educated youth, while others point to North Sudan and other uprisings as similar to the Arab Spring. Jolyon Ford maintains that democracy in various forms became common in the 1990s.[36] Compared with the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, Ford suggests, “Social protest in Africa is more likely to revolve around land or extractive sector schemes (in rural areas) or cost of living, electricity and other services, and high-profile instances of corruption or abuse (in urban centers) than around the more structural reform agenda discernible in the ‘Occupy’ movement.” Ford pointed out African countries are very different from each other, as when people in Mali supported a military coup against a democratic administration in 2012. The same year year youth-led protests in Senegal in the 23 June Movement (M23) chanted “Don’t touch my constitution” and succeeded in getting President Wade to back down from his plan to extend his two-year term and groom his son to succeed him. Around 60 groups joined together to form a new social movement.

However, Freedom House reports that the number of “free” or “partially free” countries dropped from 34 in 2005 to 30 in 2012, and pseudo-democracies exist in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Uganda.[37] The BBC reported that about 98% of Africa’s 57 nations are not free at all or “partly free,” complicated by frequent civil wars and internal conflicts.[38] Taika gives the view from Ethiopia:


Uprisings in Ethiopia are simply confusing. To begin with, we never actually hear about them for reasons that seems obvious coming from the government. From what I can remember, the only uprising that actually happened and was acknowledged by the government took place about nine years ago. It was basically against the government for corrupting the election results. Sadly, nothing came out of it. The leaders of the opponent parties went to trial for apparently initiating the uprising and they were even sentenced to death. But after some time of imprisonment, they were pardoned.


Journalists critical of the government created a blog called Zone 9 named after prison Zone 9 for political prisoners, implying that the country is a virtual prison.[39] Some of the bloggers were arrested on terrorism charges in 2014 and released the following year. Young activists in a country where the median age is 17 led uprisings against the repressive People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front dictatorship in 2005.[40] In 2013 they demanded the release of political prisoners, justice and “respect for the constitution” with an uncensored media. The next year they protested against abuse of Ethiopian migrants in Gulf States and discrimination against the Oromo ethnic group, with efforts to oust them from their land. University students led the protests met by live bullets fired by government thugs. I asked Taika to comment on this in September 2015:


This is the type of information that is partly denied but orchestrated by the government! The bloggers were arrested on the offence of terrorism but they were released during Obama’s visit. The bloggers claim that they were doing their job while the government claims other wise. What happened at the universities is also true. The result was just unrest for a short while and nothing else. 


Felix commented from Zambia that democracy is not his main goal,

To me dictators are not an issue because even elected leaders have so many times become a tyranny, therefore, in order to have change we should not only point at the wrongs being done by dictators, but go deeper and check the so called democratic systems if they are working or not. Most young people have been drawn and dragged in these debates and arguments over governance without really understanding what constitutes governance. Mostly, young people have adopted western perspectives and cannot really see what is workable for their African setups. Consequently, time and time again the vicious cycle continues where people are arguing more than they are acting.

The biggest problem Africa is facing “loss of identity;” we are not westerners but Africans, with a different history and cultures. Thus, to develop we need more than democracy. For instance, our education system, economic and social lifestyles etc…. are so important in asserting the kind of governance that will change the face and story of Africa.        


In 2013, youth protests kept presidents from running for a third term. However, predictions were that many African leaders would continue to try to get around term limits partly because many leaders have closer ties to China than the democratic West. China isn’t interested in spreading an ideology such as democracy, but is motivated by gathering resources and protecting itself from undesirable aspects of globalization. Many rulers attempt to repeal term limits, resulting in a “retreat of democracy,” as professor Richard Joseph observed. He believes that there are no coherent democratic big states in Africa. For example, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh told BBC in February 2011, “If I have to rule this country for one billion years, I will, if Allah says so.” He said his critics could “go to hell.” Joseph traces the decline of democracies to the “autocratic tendencies” of post-colonial regimes–many of whom came to power through armed struggle, donor pressure for economic growth especially from the Chinese government, and desire for stability in the face of terrorism. He makes suggestions for how to stimulate democracy in his article and is optimistic that civil society including youth, women’s, professional and other organizations will expand freedom.

Jason Nicholson believes the reason for the lack of African uprisings is that most African governments are based on traditional social hierarchies in tribes, clans, and social classes.[41] Although governments are often corrupt and totalitarian with votes for sale, thus providing grounds for revolts, a catalyst is needed and then a way to communicate a call for action. Some countries in SSA lack the centralized state governments found in North Africa with homogeneous Arab ethnicity and Muslim religion, leading to ethnic and tribal conflicts. North Africans have more access to social media and a better-educated population.


Yes, There are African Uprisings

University students had privileged status and played an important role in independence from colonial rule and continued their activism in student groups during independence.[42] However, neoliberal policies in the 1980s and 90s cut funding to universities and therefore to students. These problems led to the re-emergence of social movements the decade before 2011 and protests in Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Gabon, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco, Madagascar, Mozambique, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi and Uganda. Some lasted for a day or two and others sporadically for months as in Gabon (against President Ali bongo Ondimba), Zimbabwe (against President Robert Mugabe), Mauritania and Morocco.[43] CANVAS trained activists in the Maldives; in 2008 activists were able to oust an autocrat who had ruled since 1978 in a free election.[44] Some protests were led by women, as in Cameroon and Zimbabwe.

In African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions editors Sokari Ekine and Fronzi Manji report, “Rebellions in Benin, Gabon, Senegal, Swaziland, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, and in other parts of the African continent have gone virtually unnoticed.”[45] They state that neoliberalism and its structural adjustment programs, cuts in social programs, land grabs, and privatization policies are the underlying cause of poverty and corruption and therefore lead to uprisings. Billions of dollars flow out of Africa to pay interest on loans. Financial institutions like the African Development Bank claim SSA has a growing middle-class, but define this as an income of $2 to $20 a day. Manji stated this neglects the 61% of Africans who live on less than $2 a day on a continent where 70% of city dwellers live in urban slums, according to UN Habitat.[46] Manji lists movements for self-determination that try to reclaim government for the people such as the Bunge Sisters and Unga Revolution in Kenya (The People’s Parliament worked for a new constitution in 2010, reduction in food prices and ran for parliament), the Landless People’s Movement in South Africa, the growing GLBT movement, organized labor and farmer organizations and alternative media like his Pambazuka press as evidence of growing rebellion on the continent.

The Arab Spring of 2011 spurred movements in Mauritania, Djibouti, and Sudan.[47] Firoze Manji, editor of Pambazuka News, observed many of the uprisings were brutally suppressed and the gains of independence from colonial rule reversed. He reported other uprisings occurred in Western Sahara, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and the Walk to Work protest campaigns in Uganda.[48] He compared them to uprisings in Wisconsin, Spain, Greece and Italy against neoliberal policies. The US and other Western powers manipulated regime change behind the scenes, including ousting Gaddafi who Manji said provided social networks for the people. He believes Gaddafi’s death was plotted long before the demonstrations, similar to efforts to get ride of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Salvador Allende, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Latin America and Haiti. The usual solution to global problems is local organizing, so Manji suggested remedies to regain power for the people are farmers’ and peasants’ organizations—especially those led by women. These farmers resist US foundations’ efforts to get them to use Monsanto GMOs and pesticides. He sees the Bolivarian countries in Latin America as models of how to escape neoliberalism, as well as the solidarity provided in the World Social Forum.

Kola Ibrahim is a Nigerian student and labor activist who addressed the question of why Sub-Sahara Africa hasn’t “caught the bug” of MENA’s revolutions, despite having worse economic and social problems.[49] He reported that analysts blame corrupt regimes that pretend to be western-style democracies and offer regular but rigged elections. An interest in democracy is encouraged by Western media, NGOs, African students who studied in the West, and multiplying converts to Islam, a religion that teaches charity and humility. However, since SSA is divided by ethnic and religious differences, it’s hard for protesters to unify around a goal. As a socialist, Ibrahim thinks these bourgeois explanations are an “excuse to cover the revolutionary potential of the region . . . and downplay the impact of the capitalist dislocation of the region.”

Ibrahim pointed out the history of Africa includes pan-national mass movements against slavery, colonialism and neoliberalism. However, he thinks African activism is undermined by weak trade union leadership bought out by business interests and “the absence of a revolutionary party of the working class” to oppose imperialism. Ibrahim noted that since the 2008 recession, workers, youth and the poor engaged in uprisings more massive than in MENA, such as South African miners, the Nigerian youth and workers protests against a fuel price hike, Mozambique’s movement against increases in food prices, and various demonstrations in Cameroun, Ghana, Uganda, and Malawi. He points out that opposition leaders are often “actually offshoots of the ruling regime. They mostly become opposition during struggle for spoils of office.” He believes that revolution against corrupt governments and the capitalist system is imminent.

Africans overturned dictators using the ballot in Malawi (Hastings Banda ruled from 1963 to 1994) and Zambia (Kenneth Kaunda ruled from 1964 to 1991), but lack of Internet access and tribal divisions inhibited recent uprisings in those countries. Seven countries had pro-democracy struggles in the early 1990s that utilized general strikes and nonviolent resistance campaigns: Benin, Madagascar, Cameroon, Mali, Togo, Malawi and Kenya.[50] Women leaders were especially prominent in Kenya and Mali. Youth protested neoliberal Structural Adjustment programs of the 1980s and 1990s. Young activists lost their lives during election conflicts in Ethiopia (2005), Kenya and Zimbabwe (2008), and Cote d’Ivoire (2010). For example, in Benin students led a strike in 1989 because the government wasn’t paying scholarship money or salaries to teachers and government workers. After 15 months the government gave in to their demands, including a democratic election.

A group of five young people founded the African Youth Trust in 2005 to influence Kenya’s laws and policies with an Action Guide. More Internet activists groups developed from the sixth World Social Forum held in Nairobi in 2007 where Kenya had a more advanced software industry than other SSA countries.[51] Kenyan bloggers formed an association called BAKE, which organizes educational camps to encourage citizen journalists and oppose government regulation and prosecution of bloggers. (Their first blog was in 2003 and the first Twitter account in 2007.)

Revolts against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe persist since before the 2008 elections, including members of “Women of Zimbabwe Arise.” The leaders of a new youth political party called Viva Zimbabwe were detained in July 2016. At the launch the month before, 26-year-old organizer Acie Lumumba said, “President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, fuck you. I have drawn the red line come and get me if you want to. I am here and my name is Lumumba, Lumumba, Lumumba, am saying it three times so that you hear it clearly.”[52] He was the former ZANU PF youth leader. However, he went into hiding fearful for his safety. Demonstrations continued in August 2016 to protest corruption and unemployment, but after the largest demonstrations in two decades, Mugabe (age 92) warned no Arab Spring would happen in his country. He accused the US and other Western countries of being behind the uprising.

A Pentecostal pastor, 39-year-old Evan Mawarire was also arrested for inciting public violence in July, after organizing the largest protests in a decade, although he called for non-violent strikes. Using social media in the #ThisFlag campaign, in a video where he is wrapped in a flag, he asked people to shut down the country and stay home from work on “stay-away day.” His goal was to protest economic problems, 86% unemployment rates, and government mismanagement under 92-year-old Mugabe. Mawarire repeated language used by other uprisings, as in Egypt and Greece, stating, “We have been sleeping, and we have been beaten, jailed and were afraid. But now we are waking up.”[53] Also typical, Mugabe blamed terrorists and Western powers for the uprising. Groups in Kenya and Uganda also protest the rising cost of living. Urban protests increased over the past decade, according to a conflict scholar.[54]

In Africa Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions, (2012) the editors argue that an African Awakening took place in 23 Sub-Saharan countries in 2011, with strikes and protests against their governments. They pointed out, “There are thousands of activists and social justice movements from across Africa and the Diaspora who are totally committed to changing the socio-political landscape in their countries.”[55] Manji and Ekine maintain that, like the Arab Spring, the revolutions were made by ordinary people acting independently who valued non-violence and aimed for human dignity. Thousand of young Mozambicans protested and riots erupted in 11 countries in 2011 and North Sudanese claimed to be conducting the African Spring. Kenya’s “maize flour revolution” occurred in 2011. Nigerians protested against increased food and fuel prices in 2012 while Ethiopians marched to protest government corruption. In Kenya in 2013, the government alleged that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s campaign manager was plotting “an Egyptian-style uprising.”

In familiar themes that could apply to any of the Arab Spring uprisings, Nigerian scholar Akin Iwilade observed that African youth organized protests against austerity programs that increase the cost of food and fuel, bypassing the established opposition such as labor unions.[56] The global economic crisis of 2008 destabilized established politics, thereby enabling “a global youth culture of protest” and criticism of neoliberalism. African youth are motivated by the economic crisis to construct “hybrid identities” using global social media to address local issues. Iwilade explained, “What emerges from this identity construction process is a hybrid youth that is acutely aware of global discourses of development and democracy and at the same time in touch with the local dimensions of exclusion and disempowerment.” Iwilade reported that urban lower-middle class youth are the new activists because of their access to cell phones (by the end of 2012 SSA had about 700 million cell phone users) and the Internet, as they were in recent protests in Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Mozambique, Tunisia and Egypt. Mass media enables a global youth movement to work for social change.

Being part of a protest is seen as cool in youth culture, unlike the more differential attitudes of older African generations. Youth activists tend to distrust adult leaders of opposition groups. Using Twitter, Facebook and texting they use their technical expertise to organize leaderless uprisings, sometimes joined by poor uneducated youth. For example, food riots occurred in Mozambique in 2010 to protest rises in the price of fuel, bread and water. Youths texted their friends to join them on the streets, leading to the government to reverse the price increases. In Malawi, Robert Chasowa was a student and activist at the University of Malawi. He led the student group “Youth for Democracy” and wrote a weekly newsletter opposed to Malawi’s president. He was murdered in 2011. Manji explained that, “Chasowa represents a generation of politicized young Africans who will speak uncomfortable truths to the powerful and have tragically lost their lives in the process.”[57]

In Zimbabwe, strongman Robert Mugabe arrested 45 people and had them tortured for watching online reports of North African protests in 2011, but China awarded him the Confucius Peace Prize in 2015 (previous winners were Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin). They were charged with treason for inciting public revolt, although most people there are too preoccupied with survival to be politically active. Six of the activists were fined and given community service hours as a court decided not to put them in jail. When Serbian Otpor leader Srdja Popovic met in South Africa with Zimbabweans who were trying to oust Robert Mugabe in 2003, he was surprised by how much they knew about Optor. Their slogan was the familiar Zwakana (Enough!). Popovic commented, “If the people in rural Zimbabwe are inspired by what we have done in Belgrade, there is something bigger we don’t see.”[58] He added that people keep coming to Optor for instruction.

In Dakar, Senegal, the slogan was also “Enough is Enough!” (Y’en a Marre!), founded by hip-hop musicians, brought youth to the streets to stop the approval of constitutional amendments pushed by President Abdoulaye Wade. They helped remove him from office in February 2012 with the slogan “my voting card, my weapon.” Youth used hip-hop to motivate a voter registration drive for first-time voters with the slogan “my voter card, my vote.” As usual, when police harassed the young activists, the movement grew stronger. The young activists valued being unaligned with political parties and campaigned to create a ”New Type of Senegalese” who is a responsible citizen. Young hip-hop musicians also used their songs to protest government corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, meeting together to “develop new strategies to rise up.”[59] They launched Filimbi, a youth movement to encourage youth political activism and produced a song to promote its goals for democracy in 2016. Hip-hop youth were prosecuted for rebellion and plotting a coup against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos; 17 young people were charged in 2016.

Occupy Nigeria was a protest movement involving tens of thousands, organized in 2012 against abolition of government fuel subsidies and corruption, resulting in concessions from President Goodluck Jonathan. A popular Nigerian blogger, Tolu Ogunlesi wrote, “A culture of citizen protests appears to be sweeping the continent.” In a country where a majority live on less that $2 a day, Occupy Nigeria responded in nine days to subsidy cuts with a national strike in major cities as youth protested on the streets. They criticized government ministers on Twitter and YouTube at a time when 23% of youth were unemployed. University students organized blogs and websites and livestreamed videos in support of the movement. Lacking structure, young activists tried to negotiate a settlement with the government without leaders and specific demands, so the organized old guard moved in as the unions and opposition politicians took over. A Nigerian observed, “It is unprecedented that Nigerians across economic divides will unite to fight a cause.”[60] The establishment took credit for youth achievements when the government rescinded the fuel subsidies cuts. The movement was documented in Fuelling Poverty (2012) by Ishaya Bako.

In Ethiopia, a new opposition group, called the Blue (Semayawi) Party organized peaceful protests with around 10,000 anti-government demonstrators in 2013. They demanded “Justice,” “Respect for the Constitution,” release of political prisoners, and separation of church and state (the government favors Orthodox Christians over Muslims). About a hundred leaders were arrested and some beaten. The leader of the Blue Party, Yenekal Getinet explained his party represents the desire for change among the 70% of Ethiopians under age of 35, who want to break away from the Marxist ideas of the older generation.[61] I asked Taika, who lives in the capital, about this; “I have heard about this group but not as much as I should have as I am living in a supposed ‘democratic’ country.”

Ghanaians protesting government corruption and fuel shortage organized an “Occupy Ghana” protest on Facebook in July 2014 with thousands of followers, plus Twitter support. They marched into the president’s office. A Facebook post noted how all social classes were hurt by the economic situation; “I saw people like you and I, the Facebookers, the known young middle classers, who greet our poor neighbors every morning with a wave and a condescending how are you?, now anxious about how you can buy fuel, or pay for that mortgage, or service that car loan…”[62] President John Dramani Mahama responded with a Tweet, “I want to assure you that we will create change.”

Sudan’s Rebellion

Sudan is most often mentioned as the SSA inheritor of the Arab Spring. Similar to MENA countries, it has high youth unemployment, corruption, and rising costs of living. Before 2011, Sudan was the only Arab country to rebel and oust two military dictatorships.[63] It was also the first Sunni Muslim country to be governed by Islamic law. Sudan is the SSA country most like North Africa in its religion, culture and language (Growing up Global compares the impact of globalization on a Sudanese village and a New York neighborhood[64]). It has an educated urban population that gets news from Al Jazeera on TV and 42% of the population is below age 14.

Popular revolts had overthrown governments in 1964 and 1985, but the democratic governments were replaced by military coups. President Omar Al-Bashir ruled corruptly since 1989 when he led an Islamist-backed military coup. He worked closely with the IMF and World Bank and directed foreign investment to the oil industry, although 80% of the people worked in agriculture and almost half were poor. Similar to Egypt, the military is invested in industries. Bashir installed Sharia law in 1989 and abolished political parties in 1990. Bashir’s National Congress Party copied its platform from its earlier incarnation as the Muslim Brotherhood. Over half of the north is Arab, while the minority who identity themselves as Africans are treated as second-class citizens. Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur against the non-Arab population starting in 2003.

The Sudanese pro-democracy movement is called Girifna, meaning fed up, (similar to the global slogan Enough!). It adopted the color orange (like the Ukrainian rebels) and V-for-victory sign as a logo (first used by Allied soldiers in World War II, then used in counter-culture protests).[65] University students helped form Grifna in 2009. A video about Grifna is available in Arabic. [66]One of their resources is donations from Sudanese expatriates who give money and computer expertise and another resource is US sanctions against El Bashir’s regime. As in other countries, rigged elections in 2010 triggered protesters’ movement for a fair vote and they used Facebook and leaflets to garner support. Several large protests occurred in the North after the split with South Sudan in 2011 to protest austerity cuts to pay back $40 billion in international debt, at a time when the South took three-fourths of the oil reserves. Activists used Facebook and text message to organize demonstrations in February 2011 and the government used Facebook to publicize a fake demonstration in order to arrest activists who showed up.

More protests were triggered by new austerity plans in 2012 resulting in the Sudan Revolts. In the “Sudanese Spring” in June 2012 thousands of students protested on the streets, armed with sticks and stones. The deaths of four Dafuri students led to days of protests by pro-democracy activists. Students chanted, “No to high prices, no to corruption” and “Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan together as one.” After almost two months and about a dozen deaths, the police arrested thousands of people to end the demonstrations.

In September protests broke out again in response to the YouTube film blaspheming Prophet Mohammed, made by an Egyptian living in California. Over 10,000 people joined the protest in Khartoum where the US and German embassies were vandalized. Security forces killed three protesters while protecting the embassies, leading to anti-Bashir chants. September 2013 saw the largest protest in many years, against ending fuel subsidies. Students from secondary schools turned out shouting “down with the regime.” Bashir replied that his government was “guarded by God.”

Demonstrators carried banners proclaiming “our revolution is peaceful.” Hashtags against government violence included #SudanRevolts and #Abena (We Refuse). A member of Sudan Change, Amjed Farid explained, “It was about the economic crisis but after our blood was shed in the streets, we are saying this government should go, this regime has to go, and it should go now because it killed us. We demand a responsible government that can lead us out of these hardships.”[67]

GRIFNA wrote to IMF head Christine Lagarde in 2013 explaining that lifting subsidies on food and fuel is an “unbearable burden” in a country where almost half the population lives below the poverty line.[68] They complained that almost 80% of the budget is spent on military security rather than programs to help the people. The letter asked that Lagarde not negotiate loans with El Bashir, who they equated with Hitler.

Girifna utilized tactics from previous global struggles, duplicating a Serbian ad they found online where a young man washes a white T-shirt with the ruler’s face on it and pulls it out of the water to remove the stain. “The government’s harsh crackdown on Girifna’s peaceful organizing activities is a testament to the potential power of youth activism,” reported Olivia Bueno, a leader in the International Refugee Rights Initiative.[69] One of the university student activists said his father told him he was wasting his time, but he believes change can happen slowly, indicating generational optimism as a resource for change. This is our Arab Spring, this is the African Spring,” an activist named Ahmad told NBC news. (Videos and photos of the resistance are online.[70]) He explained, “We’re tired of this corrupt government. They started shooting at people, aiming at them. We will not put up with this anymore.”

The 2013 protests started with the urban poor, sporadically protesting the end of fuel and cooking gas subsidies suggested by the IMF. Amnesty International reported that more than 200 protesters were killed in Was Madani and Khartoum. Police fired live bullets killing more than 50 protesters including a well-known pharmacist from an affluent family Salah Sanhouri, age 28. He was well known on Facebook. When middle-class people saw tweeted gruesome photos of dead protesters online, they got involved, chanting “freedom.” Students played a large part on the streets and the doctors’ association went on strike in support. “As usual, the regime said it was fighting terrorists, and demonstrators did attack police vehicles, government buildings, and banks.

Security forces sent phony Facebook and text messages telling rebels where to assemble, and then arrested those who showed up. The largest newspaper Al-Intiaha was closed, along with several others, and several TV news stations. The foreign minister explained, “If the revolution is created by the media, we have to be serious in dealing with it.”[71] Failure to meet the challenges of poverty “could result in Sudan’s becoming a conduit for an immense wave of societal change throughout the continent. Many Africans, increasingly connected to the global community, are watching the winds of change blow.”[72] Political opposition groups, youth organizations, and unions joined in the Coordination of Sudanese Change Forces in September 2013, demanding elections for a new government. Islamist movements, however, typically are more organized than the pro-democracy ones. The protests lacked organization, unlike the 1985 uprising coordinated by unions and leaders of professional organizations.[73] Protests continued. Opposition leaders called for a popular uprising to overthrow the president in 2015.


The Dark Spring in Burkina Faso

The “Dark Spring” boiled up in Burkina Faso in October 2014 after President Blaise Campaore tried to re-write the constitution to allow himself to seek another term after 27 years in office. He took power in a 1987 coup when he was 36 and a protégé of Muammar Gaddafi (and some say had CIA support). About 60% of the population is under age 25 and the average yearly income is around $300 a year.[74] The capital in Koudougou is filled with many unemployed young people who set fire to parliament as the vote was to take place and took over the headquarters of state television. Young people campaigned against Campaore, forming groups such as the Citizen Broom (Le Balai Citoyen) whose Facebook page attracted over 20,000 followers. They repeated the slogan of youth-led uprisings, “Enough!” Also, “Burkina will have its Egypt” and “Tunisia is in Koudougou.” They started a radio station to encourage activist to prevent the coup and featured hip-hop artists. A young activist, Alli Konseiga predicted, “Young people in countries with leaders who act like our former presidents will be inspired by us.”[75] The previous endnote includes a video of the demonstrations with huge crowds of mostly young men on the streets.

The military took over similar to Egypt after the ouster of President Morsi, saying they were on the side of the people and announcing the creation of a transitional government. Opposition parties rejected military rule but the military tried to use force to prevent civilian take-over of the government, but then backed off. Young protesters carried signs in French saying, “The military confiscated our revolution.” The president said, “I have heard the message,” withdrew his proposed law, resigned and fled the country. Reporter David Blair said deposing the president was the “first successful revolution in the history of sub-Saharan Africa since the Arab Spring.”[76] A former diplomat named Michel Kafando was appointed to head a civilian government, so protesters prevented military rule. Young people also took to the streets of Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.[77]

A military coup loyal to Campaore kidnapped the interim president and prime minister in September 2015. Labor unions called for a strike and world leaders such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the coup. At least three people were killed in street demonstrations, reported on by #Iwili and a new radio station set up to report on the events and call on people to demonstrate against the coup. Two days later President Kafando and his ministers were freed.

South African Youth Focus on Education and Housing

After Nigeria, South Africa is the leading African economy, one of the emerging BRICS nations. Almost half the population is under 24 with over half of them unemployed despite ANC promises to create more jobs. Inequality and poverty are widespread and South Africa one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS (18% of adults), leaving many children orphans. South Africa has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world and 47% of the people live in poverty. The official unemployment rate is 25%, but over half of young black men are unemployed and large numbers of young South Africans have never had a job. Whites still control most of the farm land and generally have higher standards of living, even though apartheid that began in 1948 ended in 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected president. The average white family has five times the income of the average black family. Young people interviewed by Rhodes University were pessimistic about their economic opportunities and politics.[78] One of them said, “I voted because I wanted freedom. But I will not vote again because there is nothing to be gained.” Another said voting doesn’t improve services, so protests are common, facilitated by cell phone and Internet communication as usual.

About 80% of the population is South African is black and many have tribal loyalties. Tribalism is still influential as evidenced by 11 official languages. . A 2012 survey found that most South Africans identify themselves by race, ethnicity, or language rather than first as South Africans.[79] The percentage of nationalists is lower among young people. Some tribes require circumcision of teen boys in initiation rituals. In the Eastern Cape Province, since 2006 nearly 500 young men died as a result of the botched cutting during the ritual,[80] indicating following tradition can be problematic.

Nicholas Drushella, an American who teaches in a private South African high school in a rural area emailed:


While the country has an incredible amount of resources, those resources and the wealth are concentrated to a very small number of individuals. The Gini coefficient is one of, if not the highest, in the world. This has far reaching impacts on development, and the gap between the rich and the poor is enormous. This extends particularly to education. South Africa has an excellent university system but those who thrive (or even get through) come from cities and more wealthy backgrounds. The system of education in South Africa is deeply troubled, particularly for rural students who have less resources. They are expected to travel far distances and pay fees, despite not having access to any information on this. Nkomazi, the region where we work, has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world. The level of youth unemployment in South Africa is astronomical, much like other African nations.


In South African school where Drushella teaches, one of his students, Nomthandazo, a girl, 16, reports on their problems; “Some teachers do their work very lazy; especially when the sun is hot they don’t feel like teaching. The school furniture is not very pleasing, for some learners vandalize it. Some learners disrespect others and their teachers which is the cause of most conflicts.” Youths struggle with basic issues such as access to decent housing and education. A young activist named Ntuthuzo Ndzomo joined Equal Education when he was a student to protest “messed up” education.[81] He advocates, “Young people need to be more involved. They’re angry and tired of inequality. Their involvement is important for us to more forward.”

History education issues revolved round the language of instruction. In 1976 black students led the Soweto uprising to protest apartheid and the government decree that Afrikaans be used as a language of instruction in secondary schools. Banners read, “If we must do Afrikaans, [Prime Minister] Vorster must do Zulu.” Soweto was the home of school boycotts and a famous uprising of 10,000 students against the introduction of Afrikaans.[82] Up to 1,000 young people were shot by police, commemorated on Youth Day. The Congress of South African Students was organized in 1979, a leader of school boycotts against apartheid. Young radicals also organized in unions, the ANC Youth League, the United Democratic Front, the South African Student organization, the Black Peoples Convention, and organized discussions of the Black Consciousness Movement. They marched in every major city, closed schools and boycotted exams, and occupied city centers similar to recent protests in public squares, preparing the way for the first democratic elections in 1991. Mandela developed reconciliation groups to try to ease racial tensions and established a youth council in 1997.

Under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela, South Africa established a National Youth Policy initiative to encourage youth participation and leadership. Mandela advocated, “Youth are the valued possession of the nation. Without them there can be no future. Their needs are immense and urgent. They are the centre of reconstruction and development.”[83] The plan states that governments on all levels should have “youth desks,” to work with young people but not staffed by youth themselves.[84] Looking at the policy, it emphasis economics—entrepreneurship and employment, as well as access to education and health care for various groups of young people (disabled, rural, female, etc).

A 15-year old boy named Lebohang said after Mandela’s funeral in December 2013, “I’d like to believe everyone has a photo of Mandela in their house,” but loyalty to the ANC has eroded. Their heroes had flaws. Youth activists opposed the neoliberal economic policies adopted by President Nelson Mandela. A member of Right2Know campaign against government secrecy, Mark Weinberg said his lowest moments were going to Parliament and seeing heroes of the liberation struggle “dressed in power suits, bowing to the Minister of State Security and voting for the secrecy bill.”[85] Weinberg observed that since the early 1990s the ANC began demobilizing citizens, “promoting the neoliberal dogma that citizens are consumers who should wait patiently for services and compete individually for opportunities in a growing economy.” University graduates are angry with the government about the lack of jobs.

The African National Congress (ANC) received much criticism for ignoring the poor when in power, evidenced in police attacks on activists in the shack-dwellers movement for decent housing, but the ANC was re-elected in 2014. The dwellers struggle with long lines for water and lack of sanitation. The slums are governed by local committees. The Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers were able to work together to make sure children went to school, reduce crime, reduce the use of crystal meth and build a semi-autonomous community.[86]

In August 2011, members of the ANC’s Youth League demonstrated to call for the ouster of ANC President Jacob Zuma. The Youth League was led by 30-year-old Julius Malema.[87] He claimed to represent the poorest of the poor and advocated nationalizing the mines and seizing white-owned farmland. He joined the ANC’s Young Pioneers group at age nine and became regional head of the Youth League at age 14. He was expelled from the ANC in March 2012 due to his opposition to Zuma who remained in power. Malema formed his own populist party called the Economic Freedom Fighters inspired by Venezuelan Hugo Chávez, built a palace for himself, and faced charges of corruption and money laundering.

Police violence continues, most infamously when police killed 34 striking platinum mineworkers in 2012. A miner said he felt betrayed by the Mandala’s ANC; “The ANC is no longer the party of the poor man, the working man. They care only about enriching themselves.” At Nelson Mandela’s state funeral the next year, President Zuma was booed due to corruption in his government and charges he raped the young daughter of an ANC activist. The anti-corruption Public Protector group criticized him for spending $15 million of state funds on his private home. The top court ordered him to pay it back in March 2016. ANC had its worst outcomes in elections in August 2016 since the days of Mandala’ presidency, loosing control of parliament. Corruption scandals and international divisions weakened the ANC.

A Soweto slum resident, Monky (age 16) reported little progress in 2014; “There are no things for young people. You have to walk a long distance to get to a library.”[88] Lebohang, 15, also lives in an all-black neighborhood in Soweto where boys hang out on the street corners. He observed that the kids who really need help, the ones who drop out of school, don’t have guidance. Youth do have a soccer field, houses with yards and some have computers. Most of his friends have mobile phones because they love technology. However, an average of 50 people are murdered each day and almost half of the people live in poverty in shantytowns. Although South Africa now has the largest program to treat its 6.4 million HIV+ people, the number of infections is increasing.[89] In the past President Zuma just recommended taking a shower after intercourse to prevent infection.

“The Born Free” generation in South Africa is focused on their own future, not the apartheid past, as stated in a 2013 video.[90] A 24-year-old TV producer, Akhumzi Jezile says youth don’t react the same way as older people; “We cannot talk about apartheid every day forever,” but they’ve led education campaigns to end HIV, crime, and substance abuse. About 40% of the South African population grew up in the Rainbow Nation led by Mandala. They’re critical of the ANC and the greed shown by its leaders, but they don’t trust the opposition either. As in other parts of the world, older activists accuse the Born Frees of being apathetic and apolitical. A hip-hop singer named HHP sang in his song “Harambe,” that, “I’m not the political type. Not the type to fake an image for the sake of this whole consciousness type.”[91] Other young people think it’s time for the youth to step forward, concluding that, “Africa is like a rough diamond that needs to be refined by youth.”

Similar to youth globally, they’re more likely to socialize with friends of different races than old people and much less likely to have faith in political leaders, according to a Reconciliation Barometer yearly survey.[92] Even slum dwellers are overwhelmingly optimistic despite the fact that their rates of unemployment and poverty are twice as high as the general population. Miles, 18, explained, “We young people have the potential to come up with new strategies of how to save the country, how to do things better, how to accommodate everybody in this country.”

Young freedom fighters stress their independence from the ANC and other political parties and use direct democracy to liberate the poor, in groups such as the Mandela Park Backyarders and Abahlali baseMjondolo for shack dwellers’ housing rights. The former aims to facilitate communication between “socialists, other radical groups and backyarders across South Africa.” The latter group says although Mandela said all people would have homes, “Today there is only housing for ANC members,” and “Black Boers” (Boers is the term for white Afrikaners with Dutch or German ancestry) or “Black Diamonds.” Abahlali baseMjondolo states that it is not just about housing but creating dignity. The shack dwellers’ movement began in 2005 with a road blockade to resist eviction of a slum. The largest grassroots organization, the shack dwellers’ movement spread from Durban to Cape Town and other cities. Abahlai is not affiliated with ANC or any other political party.

A founding member of Abahlai, S’bu Zikode was a Boy Scout who learned about equality and justice. He said, “I couldn’t take seeing homeless people, especially when their houses are bulldozed as if they are not human beings, so I thought I would contribute to finding a solution.” Corrupt leaders are their main problem, but he believes the poor are now treated with more respect.[93] Similar to other youth activists globally, they reject alliance with any political parties including the ANC, relying on self-organization and direct action. In 2013, they occupied land in Durban and named it Marikana in honor of the 34 mine workers who were killed by police while striking against poor working conditions and pay.

Peace is another theme for young activists. I interviewed a high school student named Justice, available on video.[94] After graduating from high school as student president, he started a youth organization called Young Peace Activists in the rural region of Acornhoek in Mpumalanga and then at his Wits University in Johannesburg. In December 2014 Justice organized a youth peace conference at his former high school in Acornhoek and continues to organize youth as peace activists.

Reporter Sarah Wild investigated activism in 2014, finding that class influences with the poor concerned about housing and delivery of government services, but all groups challenged by ANC dominance.[95] White middle-class issues include crime and violence, culture and animal rights such as rhino killings, and feeling excluded from the political process. Local community groups are influencial in the post-apartheid era, such as a local ANC branch, ward committees, or community police forums. A member of a graffiti artists group warned that activism organized by NGOs could derail organizing in local communities. Youth activists, such as Janet Jobson who manages a youth group called Activate, explained that activism is about principles but party politics is about power struggles that prevail in South Africa. The Tokolos Stencil Collective aims to “terrorize the South African elite: those who screw us with forced removals, privatization, gentrification.” Their graffiti also features women’s right to public spaces and is anti-homophobia.

The youth unemployment rate is 50%, partly because of poor education (over 75% of students in 2014 received low quality schooling) and a high drop out rate from high school.[96] No useful job centers are available to youth and looking for a job requires access to the Internet and printing (and sometimes bribes to gatekeepers) and other costs that jobless youth can’t afford.[97] Black youth are more disadvantaged than white young people. Although South Africa is 80% black, they comprise less than a quarter of the university students at the most respected and oldest public university, the University of Cape Town. The language of instruction is English. Only 5% of the faculty is black; looking at all 26 public universities, only 14% of full professors are black.[98] Students protested the lack of black students and faculty in 2015, occupying the student government office in an effort to “decolonize” the university, shown in a video.[99] Faculty spoke about the need to recognize the ongoing impact of colonialism and deconstruct and reconstruct the university, as discussed in a video of a panel discussion.[100]

In March, a student threw feces at a campus statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British colonialist who donated land to the university, part of a call for “Rhodes Must Fall” in the “poo protest.” The statue was removed the next month leading an activist student to comment, “We finally got the white man to sit down and listen to us.”[101] The #rhodesmustfall movement was led by black students joined by white allies. Students did marathon readings of anti-colonist author Fantz Fanon and Steve Biko, the leader of the black consciousness movement. They also demanded more black faculty members and students and a more African curriculum. Similar to other young activists, South Africans support intersecting causes. Rhodes was followed by #FeesMustFall and #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh.

South African students demanded free education (university fees are around $8,800 a year) and an end to outsourcing university support employees. A BBC TV reporter said youth delivered “a potent new message” because the ANC and other political parties didn’t participated in the grassroots protest. Graduate student Mikaela Erskog, a member of the Black Student Movement, believes the protests illustrate “a shifting of generationally-embedded ideologies in a real challenge to the existing relations of power…Unlike elders who refuse to transform the older of things—the movements are re-imagining what a truly transformed African university might look like.”[102] Their student movement aims to “decolonize the mind.”

In the largest Born Free student demonstrations since apartheid ended in 1994, in October following the Rhodes demonstration, young men threw rocks after a week of student demonstrations by both black and white students against proposed hikes in university fees in one of the most unequal major economies where over half the people living below the official poverty rate.[103] The police reacted with stun grenades, rubber bullets and chemical water cannons. A BBC news report showed a young woman trying to stop the violence to no avail. The #FeesMustFall movement closed 17 major universities and rallied large crowds at parliament in Pretoria.

The National Shutdown Collective organized students from 19 universities; many were members of student movements such as the Black Student Movement and Uprising. The Communist Party Minister of Education Blade Nzimande supported a price increase and said “students must fall,” not the statue. Students won when President Zuma agreed at a press conference to no increase in university fees in 2016 but he ignored other demands. Students won a “historic victory over South African neoliberalism,” commented Professor Patrick Bond.[104] Student leader Mcebo Dlamini predicted: “The ANC government will never give us free education. We must take it.”  In September university student protests shut down three universities to demand free education after the government announced that 2017 tuition fee increases would be capped at 8%. Police fired at the crowds. Although Zuma thought that his party would rule “until Jesus comes,” that year the ANC lost elections in black-majority cities, including Pretoria, as voters rejected the party’s corruption and lack of responsiveness to voter needs. About 10% of the population owns more than 90% of the assets. Black students are four times less likely to attend college than white students. Voters turned to the Democratic Alliance party with many young black leaders such as the party’s head Mmusi Maimane, age 36.

When the government announced 8% tuition increases in October 2016, students went on strike again in #FeesMustFall in over half the universities, asking for free university education. Activists said they were fighting a “generational struggle” for justice, highlighted by lack of support from ANC leaders.[105] Rose, age 19, explained, “Our parents don’t understand…but they have been brainwashed.” Photos show students holding rocks and sticks to throw at police who fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas. Protesters also sang protest songs from Apartheid days and most protests were peaceful. The government claimed demonstrators caused $40 million in damages, up from one million in 2015. President Zuma said the country can’t afford free education for all but supports assistance for poorer students.


We’ve seen that the youth bulge and youth ability to communicate and organize electronically creates a powerful force. Their lack of economic opportunity predicts continued upheavals. The worst drought in more than a generation is another problem facing southern and eastern African nations, leaving millions without adequate food and starving livestock. Youths’ desire to help others needs to be tapped by governments, NGOs, religious groups, volunteer agencies, and their schools. Above all, African youth need job training and job creation. As Felix and Taika advocate, Africans must figure out solutions based on their own cultures, not their former colonial rulers who are discussed in the next chapter on Europe.


Discussion Questions and Activities

  1. Do you think Bill Gates is accurate when he predicts there will be almost no poor countries by 2035? Why or why not?
  2. How is widespread use of the cellphone changing Africa?
  3. How does SSA’s education compares with your primary and secondary school education? How would you do away with school fees so all children can attend school?
  4. Felix and Taika are critical of Western influence on African identity. Discuss.
  5. Did an African Spring occur? If not, why not? Include discussion of the conditions required for a successful move towards democracy.
  6. How are South Africa’s “Born Frees” similar to their age mates globally?


Media Activities

Emmanuelle’s Gift is the true story of a teenager who bicycled all over Nigeria with only one leg to raise funds and awareness/rights for the disabled in his country where the disabled generally had no income or rights. 2005

Lost Boys of Sudan. A documentary about two orphaned young boys to who make it to the US. 2004.

The Boys of Baraka. A documentary about a school in rural Kenya where delinquent black teenage boys from Baltimore are sent to help them get on track, and they do.  The funding for the school is cut due to political upheaval. 2006, plus an update on the boys in 2010.[106]

God Grew Tired of Us. Documentary about three of the lost boys of Sudan who walked for five years to escape war and ended up in the US. 2006

War Dance. Ugandan schools compete in music competition. The focus is on kids from a refugee camp fir the Acholi tribe. Some of the children were forced to be soldiers, some are orphans. 2007

Nairobi Half Life. A young aspiring actor, Mwas migrated from a village in rural Kenya to Nairobi where he is exposed to slum life and gang crime. 2013


  1. Compare and contrast young people’s issues and themes in my video interviews from Ethiopia

South Africa


[1] “Elevating the Next Generation of Change-Makers,” Johnson & Johnson

[2] Kingsley Ighobor, “Leaders Awakening to the Need for Joy-Creation Programmes,” Africa Renewal, May 2013.

[3] Lori Ashford, “Africa’s Youthful Population: Risk or Opportunity?”, Population Reference Bureau, June 2007.

[4] “Africa Literacy Facts,” African Library Project.


[6] David Brooks, “The Real Africa,” New York Times, May 8, 2014.


[8] World Bank blog, “Voices and Views: Middle East and North Africa,” November 25, 2013.

[9] She also interned at

[10] Velani Dibba, “Arab Spring’s Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa,” International Policy Digest, May 11, 2013.

[11] Ogochukwu Ekwenchi, et al., “Youth, Popular Discourses and Power: A Critical Analysis of Three Nollywood Feature Films,” Covenant Journal of Communication, Vol. 1, No. 2, December 2013.

[12] Michael Wines, “From a Rwandan Dump to the Hall of Harvard,” New York Times, October 22, 2014.

[13] Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji, editors. African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions. Fahaum/Pamabazuka, 2012, p. 30.

[14] Jocelyne Sambira, “Africa’s Mobile Youth Drive Change,” Africa Renewal, May 2013.

[15] Graham Peebles, “Famine and Government Neglect in Ethiopia,” NationofChange, January 9, 2016.



[18] Nicholas Kulish, “Rwanda Reaches for New Economic Model,” New York Times, March 23, 2014.

[19] Jerome Roos, “Malawi’s Homegrown Miracle,” ROAR Magazine, January 6, 2011.

[20] Wiza Jalakasi, “What It’s Really Like to Be Young, Black, and an African Tech Startup Entrepreneur (in Africa),”, August 16, 2016.

[21] Kathambi Kinoti, “Land Graps,” Open Democracy, February 10, 2012.

[22] Lamido Sanusi, “Africa Must Get Real About Chinese Ties,” Financial Times, March 11, 2013.

[23] Norimitsu Onishi, “African Economies, and Hopes for New Era, Are Shaken by China,” New York Times, January 25, 2016.

[24] “African Good Government Prize Again Withheld,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 14, 2013.

[25] Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner. Find Me Unafraid. Ecco, 2015, p. 163.


Craig Phillips, “Jessica Posner Odede,” PBS blog, February 9, 2015.

[27] Interview with Ahmad Alhendawi, “Africa’s Greatest Assets are its Young People,” Africa Renewal, May 2013.

[28] Ighobor, op.cit.



[31] Jones Adu-Gyamfi, “Young People’s Participation in the Formulation and Implementation of Ghana’s Youth Policy,” Youth Voice Journal, August 2014.

Dr Jones Adu- Gyamfi (2014) Young People’s Participation in the Formulation and Implementation of Ghana’s Youth Policy


[33] Francois Bonnici, “Africa Must Do More to Harness Young People’s Entrepreneurial Drive,” The Conversation, August 12, 2016.

[34] Matt Swagler, “In the Third World and the Quartier: African Youth Activism after National Independence in Francophone Africa,” April 18, 2013.

[35] Alcinda Honwana. The Time of Youth. Kumarian Press, 2012.

Youth and Revolution in Tunisia. Zed Books, 2013.

“Youth, Waithood and Protest Movements in Africa, African Arguments, August 12, 2013.

[36] Jolyon Ford, “Democracy and Change,” African Futures, July 14, 2012.

[37] Richard Joseph, “Democracy at Bay: The Arab Spring and Sub-Saharan Africa,” Africa Plus blog, September 3, 2013.

[38] Velani Dibba, “Arab Spring’s Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa,” International Policy Digest, May 11, 2013.

[39] tps://

[40] Graham Peebles, “When Enough is Enough: Rise Up People of Ethiopia,” EthioFreedom, May 23, 2014.

[41] Jason Nicholson, “Sudan: African Sequel to the Arab Spring?,” Small Wars Journal, March 29, 2013.

[42] Leo Zeilig, “The Student-Intelligentsia in sub-Saharan Africa,” Review of African Political Economy,” Vol. 36, No. 119, 2009.


[43] Ibid, p. 21.

[44] Judith Evans, “The Maldives: A Democratic Revolution,” Open Democracy, 2008.

[45] Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji, editors. African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions. Fahaum/Pamabazuka, 2012, Chapter 1.

[46] Firoze Manji, “On the African Awakenings” speech, June 22, 2011.

[47] George Lawson, “Revolution, Non-Violence, and the Arab Spring,” IDEAS reports, 2012.

[48] Firoze Manji, “On the African Awakenings” speech, June 22, 2011.

[49] Kola Ibrahim, “Middle East and North African Revolts and Revolutions: Is Africa Immune? Global Research, December 29, 2013.

[50] George Lakey, “What About the Rest of Africa?,” Nation of Change, February 8, 2012.


[52] “’Fuck you Mugabe” Says Lumumba in New Party Launch,” The Zimbabwean, June 15, 2016.

[53] Jason Burke and Caty Enders, “’Now We Are Waking Up,’” The Guardian, July 11, 2016.

[54] Zachariah Mampilly, Urban Protests and Rural Violence in Africa,” African Futures, February 4, 2013.

[55] Firoze Manji and Sokari Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions. Pambazuka Press, 2012.

[56] Akin Iwilade, “Crisis as Opportunity: Youth, Social Media and the Renegotiation of Power in Africa,” Journal of Youth Studies, 2013.

[57] Ama Biney, “Youth Unite for a Better World,” Pambazuka News: Pan-African Voices for a Better World, Issue 635, June 20, 2013, p. 33.

[58] William Dobson, The Dictator’s Learning Curve. Doubleday, 2012.

[59] Kate Lamb, “In Congo, Hip-Hop Gives Youth a Political Voice,” Al Jazeera, October 11, 2015.

[60] Jide Ojo, “Pains and Gains of January 2012 Protests,” Punch, January 30, 2012.

[61] Peter Heinlein, “Opposition Protest Could Mark Change in Ethiopian Policy,” Voice of America, June 3, 2013.

[62] L. Abena Annan, “Fed Up With the Country’s Economic Woes, Ghanaians Launch Their Own Occupy Movement,” Global Voices, July 4,2014.

[63] Leah Sherwood, “Women at a Crossroads: Sudanese Women and Political Transformation,” Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 13, No. 8, October 2012.

[64] Cindi Katz. Growing up Global. University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

[65] Rebecca Hamilton, “Activist Group Girifna Aims to Educate Voters in Sudan,” The Washington Post World, August 14, 2010.

TheGirifna website is


[67] Akshaya Kumar, “7 Things You Should Know About #SudanRevolts,” ThinkProgress, September 30, 2013.

[68] “IMF: Do Not Subsidize Genocide,” GIRIFNA

[69] Rebecca Hamilton, “Activist Group Girifna Aims to Educate Voters in Sudan,” The Washington Post, August 14, 2010.


[71] Joris Levrink, “Spirit of Revolt Drifts South as Austerity Protests Rock Sudan,” ROAR Magazine, October 2, 2013.

[72] Nicholson, “Sudan” op cit.

[73] Alex De Waal, “Making Sense of the Protests in Khartoum,” World Peace Foundation, September 2013.

[74] “Burkina Faso ‘Black Spring’ Protests,” Channel 4 News UK, October 30, 2014.

[75] Abdoulaye Bah, “Burkina Faso is Taking Steps Towards Democracy,” OximityNews, November 21, 2014.

[76] David Blair, “African Protesters Launch ‘Black Spring’ in Burkina Faso,” The Telegraph, October 30, 2014.

[77] Javier Blas, “Africa’s Leaders Wake Up to the Black Spring of Burkina Faso,” Financial Times, November 3, 2014.

[78] Alex Dewaal, “Youth, Conflict and Governance in Africa,” World Peace Foundation, March 11, 2014.

[79] Bill Keller, “South Africa’s Growing Pains,” New York Times, February 16, 2014.

[80] “In South Africa, Circumcision Ritual Becomes Health Crisis,” CBS News, June 4, 2014.


[82] Karen Wells. Childhood in a Global Perspective. Polity Press, 2015, p. 148.

Monique Marks. Young Warriors: Youth Politics, Identity and Violence in South Africa. Witts University Press, 2001

Baruch Hirson. Year of Fire, Year of Ash: The Soweto Schoolchildren’s Revolt that Shook Apartheid. Zed Books, 2016.



[85] Sarah Wild, “Desire for Change Unites Post-Apartheid Activism,” Mail & Guardian, February 21, 2014.

[86] “Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers,” CHOSA

[87] Milton Nkosi, “Malema and Zuma Battle for the Soul,” BBC News, August 30, 2011.

Fiona Forde. An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the New AMC. Picador Africa, 2011.

[88] Charlene Thomas-Bailey, “Cities Debate: Teenagers Talk,” The Guardian, January 29, 2014.

[89] “South Africa Targets Screening Whole Population for AIDS,” The International News, July 24, 2014.



[92] Rebecca Davis, “SA Reconciliation Barometer 2012: the Young and the Restless,” Daily Maverick, July 27, 2014.

[93] Sarah Wild, “Desire For Change Unites Post-Apartheid Activism,” Mail & Guardian, February 21, 2014. Interview by Fatima Asmal.


[95] Sarah Wild, “Desire For Change Unites Post-Apartheid Activism, Mail & Guardian, February 21, 2014.

[96] Khavheni Shope, “Apartheid Still Haunts South Africa’s Education System,” TeleSUR, October 12, 2016.

[97] Zoheb Khan, “South Africa’s Youth Speak Out on the High Cost of Finding Work,” The Conversation, June 20, 2016.

[98] Norimmitsu, “Students in South Africa Protest Slow Pace of Change,” New York Times, September 8, 2015.


[100] “Panel Discussion: Decolonizing the University,” April 23, 2015.

[101] “Rhodes Statue Removed in Cape Town as Crowd Celebrates,” BBC News, April 9, 2015.

[102] Mikaela Erskog, “South African Students Rise Up to Demand Free Education,” ROAR Magazine, October 24, 2015.

[103] Patrick Bond, “South African Student Protests,” TeleSUR, October 24, 2015.

[104] Sarah Lazare, “’Mass Struggle Works,” Common Dreams, October 23, 2015.

[105] Jason Burke, “South African Student Leaders Vow to Continue Tuition Fee Protests,” The Guardian, October 7, 2016



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