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The Time of Youth: Work, Social Change, and Politics in Africa

Alcinda M. Honwana
The Time of Youth: Work, Social Change, and Politics in Africa
ISBN: 978-1-56549-471-8
ISBN: 978-1-56549-472-5
ISBN: 978-1-56549-474-9
2012/222 pages/LC: 2012003535
A Kumarian Press Book

"This clearly written, well-structured study summarizes the contemporary situation of African youth, but also regularly gestures toward a more global analysis of the generation that grew up in the shadow of structural adjustment and neoliberalism.... Highly recommended."—Choice

"An insightful and intriguing read ... highly recommended."—James A. Cox, Library Bookwatch

"One of the most comprehensive considerations to date of the situation of young people in contemporary Africa—their social, economic, and political location, and the diverse imaginings with which they seek to reproduce and reform their worlds."—Jean Comaroff, University of Chicago


Most young Africans are living in a state of "waithood," argues Alcinda Honwana, finding themselves suspended in limbo between childhood and adulthood. Failed neoliberal economic policies, bad governance, and political instability have caused stable jobs to disappear; and without jobs that pay living wages, these young people cannot become fully participating members of society. But that is only part of the story.

Examining the lives of young people in Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia, Honwana focuses on the transformative potential of the waithood generation—not only in Africa, but also globally—as young people come to believe that the struggle to overcome their predicament requires radical social and political change. From organizing protests in the streets of Maputo, Dakar, Madrid, and New York, to sparking revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the waithood generation, as we are reminded in The Time of Youth, is using its resources redress the wrongs of contemporary society.


Alcinda Honwana is visiting professor in the Development Policy and Practice program at the Open University. Previously, she was director of the Africa and the Children and Armed Conflict programs at the Social Science Research Council. Her publications include Child Soldiers in Africa and Makers and Breakers: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa.


  • Youth.
  • Waithood.
  • Aspirations.
  • Getting By.
  • Intimacy.
  • Citizenship.
  • Social Change.
  • Global Waithood.