Rebellious Youth in Colonial Africa


Waller, Richard. 2006. “Rebellious Youth in Colonial Africa.” The Journal of African History 47 (01): 77-92. doi:10.1017/S0021853705001672.

Author: Richard Waller


That rebellious youth alarmed colonial authorities and elders alike is increasingly an issue for historians. This article surveys the issue as an introduction to the two studies that follow. It considers both the creation of images of youthful defiance as part of a debate about youth conducted largely by their seniors and the real predicaments faced by young people themselves. Concern revolved around the meanings of maturity in a changing world where models of responsible male and female adulthood, gendered expectations and future prospects were all in flux. Surviving the present and facing the future made elders anxious and divided as well as united the young. The article concludes by suggesting a number of areas, including leisure and politics, where the voice of youth might be more clearly heard, and proposes comparisons – with the past, between racial groups and between ‘town’ and ‘country’ – that link the varied experiences of the young.

Keywords: gender, colonial, generational conflict, masculinity, youth

Topics: Age, Youth, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Women, Men, Gender Roles, Political Participation, Race Regions: Africa

Year: 2006

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