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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Creating New Leaders: Youth Involvement in Community Activism in South Africa


Less than two decades into a new democracy, South African black youth are facing social, political, and economic problems handed down to them by the oppressive Apartheid government. While many youth participate in extracurricular activities through non-governmental organizations, this thesis looks specifically at those youth that engage in projects that train them as community activists and leaders. Using two activist organizations as windows into this topic, I ask if involving youth in community activism can decrease their involvement in crime as well as increase their self-identification as community leaders. Rather than focusing on solutions that simply keep young people off the streets by providing childcare and vocational training, or reiterate HIV/AIDS prevention techniques, I examine how some youth are actively becoming leaders themselves - in the hopes that they will not just better their own lives but confront social problems at both the local and national levels.

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