Africa and the Middle East

Youth, Waithood, and Protest Movements in Africa

This 2013 lecture by Professor Alcinda Honwana is a response to the struggles and hardships experienced by African youth who are stuck in the limbo of “waithood,” a developmental period of time in their lives where they are no longer in childhood but feel as though they have not yet reached adulthood. Honwana explains that the reason for recent revolts and protests in and around Africa stems from youth’s refusal to accept this period of “waithood.” She argues that youth’s recognition of their marginalized status in African countries and distrust of solutions proposed by governments has led to the development of young people’s individual identities, leading them to break traditional order. Although young people “appear to be struggling to translate the political grievances of the protest movement into a broader political agenda,” it is evident that these instances of activism have taken this next generation beyond a period of “waithood.”

Honwana, Alcinda. “Youth, Waithood, and Protest Movements in Africa.” African Arguments. 12 August 2013. Web. 9 October 2015. <>.


The Youth and the Arab Spring: Cohort Differences and Similarities

During the Arab Spring, young people in the Middle East and North Africa protested against the injustices that were inflicted on them by their respective governments. The series of youth movements were inspired by a multitude of reasons, such as high unemployment rates among young people. The authors explain, “Once considered a passive agent in the political sphere, the event of the Arab Spring have galvanized this new-found youth momentum.” As creators of change, these young people contributed to what many believe may be one of the most important transformations in modern history.

Hoffman, Michael and Amaney Jamal. “The Youth and the Arab Spring: Cohort Differences and Similarities.” Middle East Law and Governance 4. 2012. Web. 15 October 2015. <>.


The Next Generation of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In this article, Jeff Moskowitz from The Atlantic highlights the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on the younger population. This next generation is reaching a point at which they will soon become more influential in deciding the course of the two nations, many of whom have been plagued with childhood memories of broken promises for peace. With the aging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, an entire new generation of young minds will be placed in new leadership roles that could influence coexistence and peace in the region.

Moskowitz, Jeff. “The Next Generation of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The Atlantic. 9 July 2014. Web. 9 October 2015. <>.


Connected and angry, African youth groups push for democracy

As youth become more informed about the current state of their country, they become more active in working towards change and reform. Through new technology and ever increasing connectivity, even in less developed countries, young people are quickly discovering that they do not have to agree with or accept their current political and social conditions. This has become evident with many groups of African youth who are becoming organized and are using their efforts to enact change in communities that have been plagued with corruption. These youth groups will be responsible in coming years to take over outdated, corrupt and broken governmental systems, many of which have leading country figures who bend the rules to stay in power.

Lewis, David and Aaron Ross. “Connected and angry, African youth groups push for democracy.” Reuters. 1 May 2015. Web. 8 October 2015. <>.


Civic Engagement of Youth in the Middle East and North Africa

This detailed study conducted by Mercy Corps provides insight on the state of youth civic involvement in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa. According to the authors, some predictors of their level of engagement are their socio-economic status, level of media literacy, and rates of existing activism in their respective communities. Driving factors for civic engagement include limited employment opportunities as well as frustration with government institutions. Some youth are motivated to use violence, but this can be circumvented through education and new economic opportunities. This not only holds true for the Middle East and North Africa but also around the world, which is key to understand when encouraging high youth participation.

“Civic Engagement of Youth in the Middle East and North Africa.” Mercy Corps. March 2012. Web. 15 October 2015. < engagement_study_-_final.pdf>.

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