Book Chapter

African Youth at a Crossroads

Introduction Across the globe, today’s youth are often paradoxically considered both ‘agents of change’ who are driven by their aspirations for a better life and ‘a lost gen-eration’ who are trapped by their economic vulnerability. Nowhere is this contradiction more pronounced than in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, Africa’s youth are frequently portrayed as having a bifurcated identity, emphasized by scholarly references to this diverse constituency as ‘Hooligans and Heroes’ (Perullo 2005), ‘Heroes or Villains’ (Seekings 1993), ‘Vanguard or Vandals’ (Abbink and van Kessel 2005), ‘Makers and Breakers’ (Honwana and De Boeck 2005), and ‘Troublemakers or Peacemakers’ (McEvoy-Levy 2013).