Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 31: Ghettoisation, Migration or Sexual Connection? Negotiating Survival Among Gambian Male Youths
Stella Nyanzi Introduction In The Gambia, successful livelihoods among youths are challenged by unemployment, underemployment, low employability due to limited skills, early school drop-out, high inflation rates and fledging groundnut prices (DoSFEA, 2006: 24; Heintz et al., 2008: 23–9; Jones and Chant, 2009). Important national policy frameworks such as the National Youth Policy 1998–2008 and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2007–2011 highlight the significance of youth unemployment to national development. In communities, adults and elders complain about contemporary young people suffering from delayed maturity and its disadvantages. Struggling against the current, youths either succumb to apocalyptic pronouncements of a cursed generation, or innovatively resist this marginalisation. This chapter explores how male youths cope with failing livelihoods by fantasising about exodus, in publicly derided cliques, and examines how they (re)craft values of success amid poverty. Methods and context I conducted ethnographic fieldwork between 2003 and 2007 in rural and urban parts of The Gambia. The study aimed at obtaining emic perspectives. Data collection triangulated participant observation, individual interviews, focus group discussions and policy review. The Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa. The predominantly youthful population is urbanising rapidly. The economy depends on agriculture, tourism and services. Islam is the main religion. The main ethnic groups are Mandinka, Wolof and Fula. Socialising is a gendered activity in The Gambia, and in this instance I was particularly interested in young men who hung out with other young men in ‘the voos’.1,2 Fashioning the voos The concept of ‘the...