African Lost Generation Essay

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How useful is the idea of a ‘lost generation’? The phrase and idea of a lost generation in studies of African youth, has been closely associated with the work of Cruise O’Brien. In 1996, O’Brien identified a generation of young people (loosely defined)[1] who, as a consequence of factors including political unrest, violence and economic collapse leading to the breakdown of social structures, were unable to complete a socially constructed transition from youth to adulthood – therefore remaining indefinitely young. This generation where described as lost (in a liminal and lamentable world); their inability to mature through social institutions was compounded by their respective inability to economically support themselves,…show more content…
At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean youth were politicized, traumatized and hopeful of the societal positions they could fulfil in the changing national landscape. Secondly, male-migratory labour that fed the South African mining industry throughout the 1900s allowed women in rural areas to claim independence and authority in domestic matters; they also negotiated new legal definitions of marriage and dependency to ensure that their husbands sent them stipends whether or not they chose to return home. At the mines, men negotiated their gender segregation with ‘mine marriages’ between young and relatively older men. These new social structures reproduced many of the stereotypes found in heterosexual households and had become widespread by the 1970s. They represent the changing roles of young men (becoming mine wives) and the new trajectories they followed in order to afford bridlewealth and become adult men (cf.Dunbar-Moodie:1988). The experience of socialization by youth in decades characterized by new economic circumstances or conflict not only undermines previous household structures but it also creates great variation in generational experiences, making inter-generational rapport problematic. When the household, no longer exemplar of normative values, fails to stream, reproduce, endorse or facilitate the youths transition to
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