African Youth Leagues: Pawns In Struggle

Before the fall of Apartheid, teenagers faced violence from their former schoolyard mates over the color of a tee-shirt or voiced support for competing political ideologies. Homes are torched, supporters ‘necklaced’, and rival youth gangs held power in the classroom.

The struggle of the adults filtered down to the children, when the liberation movement created ‘youth leagues’, aiming to draft their supporters younger and younger. The children are seduced by free clothing and promise of money, and filled with wild notions, which in their youth, they have not fully understood.

The children are told–and they believe–that the ANC will grant them land and equity. Their rivals claim to see though it, and hold out for something better. Neither side is clearly right or wrong.

The best position for anyone to take to take isn’t entirely clear. But adults have compelled these young men to pick, and wait for violence to finally reach them.

Contemporary: Supporters of the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema, gather during clashes with police forces

Contemporary: Supporters of the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema gather during clashes with police forces.

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