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Africa Youth


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Africa youth culture is changing so fast due to global youth culture and media influence. This is causing a growing gap between the youth and adult worlds in Africa. Youth are disconnecting from much of African society including church and faith. What are some ways forward.

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Africa Youth

  1. 1. Africa Youth (The Issues)
  2. 3. <ul><li>“ the potency and potential of youth are extracted to sustain the power of those in authority while young people themselves feel increasingly unable to attain the promises of the new economy and society” </li></ul><ul><li>(Deborah Durham – Youth and the Social Imagination in Africa) </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>Issues facing Africa Youth </li></ul><ul><li>1. financing school </li></ul><ul><li>2. unemployment </li></ul><ul><li>3. want to get – clothes, phone, other material things </li></ul><ul><li>4. peer influence; peer pressure </li></ul><ul><li>5. feeling unloved, neglected </li></ul><ul><li>6. untrustworthy advisors – church, school, home </li></ul><ul><li>7. need encouragement </li></ul><ul><li>8. want a social life – but the church doesn’t provide an outlet </li></ul><ul><li>9. lack of vision for the future– they only think about today </li></ul><ul><li>10. abusive, absent parents – parents aren’t parenting </li></ul><ul><li>11. exploitation by men of young girls and women </li></ul>
  4. 6. <ul><li>The Power of Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>One of the areas where there is conflict between age groups is that of the power and control of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Recently the forms of knowledge have proliferated, and claims to, control of and attempts to legitimate or de-legitimate knowledge is impacting the social structure of many aspects of African society </li></ul><ul><li>Forms of knowledge is at the heart of distinctions and conflicts between young and old </li></ul><ul><li>Youth claim forms of knowledge outside the influence and understanding of older generations – school based knowledge, scientific and technical knowledge, media knowledge, and the means to progression in the modern world </li></ul><ul><li>But at the same time they may be ignorant of the social knowledge needed to function in their society or they may see this knowledge as irrelevant in a modern world </li></ul>
  5. 7. <ul><li>Economic Independence </li></ul><ul><li>In traditional African society older members of society effectively controlled subordinate groups such as women and youth, and controlled productive and reproductive resources through claims of the labour of these groups </li></ul><ul><li>Young were always traditionally dependent economically and socially on their elders in society </li></ul><ul><li>In many cases there was the subordination of the young by the old </li></ul><ul><li>Changing economic and social structures in Africa are now meaning that young people are becoming economically and socially independent </li></ul><ul><li>This is causing great conflict in many African societies as young people no longer rely on their elders for their basic necessities and social directions </li></ul><ul><li>This freedom is in turn giving young people more independence and self direction thus negating the role of the elder in African society </li></ul><ul><li>This impact is being played out in church culture where young people will not just listen or follow their elders because they are older – they now seek after leaders who earn their respect and who will engage them at their level </li></ul>
  6. 9. <ul><li>Finding a Voice </li></ul><ul><li>Use of the internet for finding out information, clarifying stories, sharing views and ideas, understanding the wider world (For a couple of months after a member of parliament in Liberia was photographed having sex with two prostitutes, various Liberian websites and chat rooms had an ongoing discussion about the social and religious implications of this) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of music to convey ideas and issues of youth (rap music is becoming a major way of exercising a youth voice because of the easy access society has to the radio and the ease with which people can comprehend its message: literacy does not exclude one from listening to music) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of blogs – the use of blogs is taking off across Africa as a new tech-savvy generation takes advantage of the growing internet access (the Kenyan Webring began in 2004 with just 10 sites – now it has more than 430, blogging on everything from politics and business to arts and culture) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of the radio – “Today, Kenya radio is experiencing a boom. Government officials say Nairobi now has 24 licensed FM operators, most of them less than four years old. Many are eager to capture the attention of young people” </li></ul>
  7. 10. <ul><li>Music as knowledge in Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Young people are often viewed as being in opposition to the rest of society. This view ignores their contribution in language, dress, and popular culture, and negates the ways they cope with economic and social pressures </li></ul><ul><li>Rap music in Africa has become a way to give a voice to young people, who are often labeled as marginal, violent, or lost in African society </li></ul><ul><li>Rap songs are often used to destroy stereotypical notions of youth culture, strengthen youth, and correct problems that appear in everyday life </li></ul><ul><li>Rap music has become a way for youth to address mass audiences and a means for youth to become knowledge holders and educators within urban contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Rap music is being used by youth to teach others about joblessness, corruption, class differences, AIDS, failing schools, lack of adequate healthcare etc </li></ul><ul><li>In the process it is empowering young people by providing them with the confidence and self-reliance </li></ul><ul><li>In a continent where speaking your mind about an issue has been seen as culturally and politically wrong then rap music is becoming a vehicle through which youth articulate their ideas without fear of repercussions </li></ul><ul><li>(Ideas from: Hooligans and Heroes by Alex Perullo) </li></ul>
  8. 12. <ul><li>Faith Journey </li></ul><ul><li>Young people are struggling with the way the Christian faith of their parents is being expressed and outworked </li></ul><ul><li>They are not so wanting to evaluate the truths of the Christian faith, rather it is the outworking of that faith </li></ul><ul><li>They see the way that church leadership and their parents express their faith as hypocritical and living a dual life (there is a difference between what their parents sing and talk about and what is lived out) </li></ul><ul><li>Young people want the chance to discuss the struggles, inequities and reality of the Christian faith in action – while their elders want them to be quiet and accept what they are told and to be ‘good Christians’ </li></ul><ul><li>In Liberia the young people expressed their frustration with me that the church leaders and their parents would not talk about ‘Where was God?” during the thirteen years of civil war. Young people didn’t want to just point the finger at God but they wanted to express their questions and fears </li></ul><ul><li>Young people have a more holistic view of faith that includes both spiritual and physical issues (emotional, intellectual and physical) that is not understood or acknowledged by the older generation </li></ul>
  9. 13. <ul><li>One Story… </li></ul><ul><li>Two nights later, I was with a group of about a dozen young Kenyans at the opposite end of the spectrum: lawyers, doctors, business owners, engineers, teachers, workers with NGO’s. I could have been with any group of young adults in Stockholm, London, Santiago, Seattle, or Boston. Too often, the conventional church was no longer working for these educated young Africans. It focused on getting souls saved, building bigger buildings, and attracting bigger crowds, but its gospel ignored the systemic injustice, corruption, poverty, violence, and suffering in which these young adults had come of age. </li></ul><ul><li>One young woman told me, “I work at an NGO that is staffed by young Kenyans like myself. All of us grew up in the church, but not one of my colleagues identifies himself as a Christian. They call themselves agnostics or atheists. But it is the god of the personal prosperity gospel that they have rejected. Their desire to make a difference shows that they really have faith in a God that nobody talks about – the God who cares about justice, poverty, oppression, and suffering.” </li></ul><ul><li>From the blog of Brian Mclaren ( </li></ul>
  10. 15. <ul><li>Young People and the Church </li></ul><ul><li>Adults in the church DO NOT WANT TO SERVE THE YOUTH! This is a cultural norm – children serve the parents, the younger serve the elders; therefore the adults don’t really want to sacrifice to minister to the youth </li></ul><ul><li>There is an attitude of “you’re supposed to know” – no one takes time to really instruct the inexperienced how to do something like plan a program, get approval for an event, work alongside people, build a team etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Concerns about jobs and education dominate young adults’ lives – financing, attending, studying for but this has little place within youth work or the church </li></ul><ul><li>Youth work is in trouble – it is outdated; not relevant to young people’s needs and concerns. It does not really representing Jesus but only religion </li></ul><ul><li>A view I heard from young people about church is that you become active in church when you are mature and ready to be serious about life – marry, have a family, etc. In other words, it’s not a place for young people who still want to enjoy the world </li></ul><ul><li>Change in youth ministry must come from within the ranks of the young adults – no one is going to “rescue” them from the problems, or change it for them. They have to be a part of the solution. </li></ul>
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