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The aim of this paper is to discuss achievement in South Africa

The aim of this paper is to discuss achievement in South Africa since 1976 in terms of youth and revolutionary morality as well as youth and class.During the Soweto Uprising, the youth of South Africa has firmly established itself on the national political scene:

‘[I]n 1976, South Africa’s youth took center stage and remained there throughout the unrest and strife of the 1980s and the political transformation of the 1990s.In fact, many observers see 1976 as the political watershed that culminated in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

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A direct line can be drawn between the Soweto uprising of 1976 and these elections’ (Slabbert et. al., 1994, p.9). Ever since, the youth has played a major role in the public life of the country (Worden, 2000). By being preoccupied with burning political and social problems, the youth in South Africa takes control over their own future.

Revolutionary identity, which was developed in 1976 and subsequent decades of struggle against apartheid, is still present in the young generation (Dlamini, 2005). However, youth in South Africa gradually accepts models of behavior typical for other developed nations. The development of youth subcultures is associated with the influence of new technologies and mass media as well as with increasing level of well-being of certain strata of the society (Dolby, 2001).

Another reason for this development is that the decades of universal political activism are gone. As politics became routine matter and major social change was brought about by the deeds of young revolutionaries, the attention to politics has been gradually decreasing. At the moment, young people are more interested in solving problems of economic and social nature (Saul, 2005).

Thus, other factors prove to be more important in the process of youth identity formation. Speaking about the process of youth identity formation in more detail, it is necessary to note another change that occurred in the recent period. For a long time, identity formation happened across racial lines, since blacks and whites developed subcultures of their own. Yet as the society becomes more just and integrated, there is a need to take into account all other factors influencing identity formation, such as class, gender, and ethnicity:

‘The mutual political accommodation of the essentially human characteristics (identities) of the various categories of black South Africans may accordingly prove to be one of the crucial aspects determining the future of the country’ (Zegeye, 2002, ‘The end of black politics?’, para.5).  Proceeding with the discussion of challenges young people encounter, one of the major problems the youth faces nowadays is associated with lack of social power and deep class segmentation of the society:

‘South African society is, even after the change brought about by the demise of apartheid in the 1990s, characterized by deep segmentation not only on the basis of culture, race, historical background, language and religion, but also on the basis of economic and/or class status’ (Zegeye, 2002, para.7). Many young people with string revolutionary identity and desire to contribute to social good are trapped in the vicious circle of poverty, isolation, and deprivation. It is of paramount importance for the government to unleash the creative potential of these young South Africans.

On the practical level, this can be done by offering universal access to different types of education and crating more employment opportunities for the young. With unemployment on the rise, many young people cannot reap the benefits of vertical mobility and stay in the lower class for the rest of their life, despite their ability and willingness to work hard.

Another major preoccupation for young people in South Africa is the HIV/AIDS. The spread of this disease produces a powerful impact on the patters of sexual conduct as well as sexual identity of young people (Peltzer, Pengpid & Mashego, 2006). HIV prevalence rate is especially high is young female citizens (Pettifor et. al., 2004). Apart from youth NGOs, church and religious organizations are believed to play a major role in addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS through encouraging healthy sexual behavior patterns in the representatives of 15 to 24 age group which are at the highest risk (Ruden, 2000).

Numerous youth organizations address the issue. In fact, it is necessary to mention that during the 1990s youth is South Africa manifested astonishing skills in advocacy and self-organization. As early as in 1992, the National Youth Development Forum as the united platform and the voice for the youth was founded (SAYC, n/d., ‘Historical Background’).

Summing up, it is possible to observe that revolutionary identity is still present in the youth, yet activism is directed as solving problems related to social justice, economic empowerment, and public health.


Dlamini, S.N. (2005). Youth and Identity Politics in South Africa, 1990-94. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Dolby, N.E. (2001). Constructing Race: Youth, Identity, and Popular Culture in South Africa. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Peltzer, K., Pengpid, S., & T.B.Mashego. (2006). Youth Sexuality in the Context of HIV/Aids in South Africa. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Saul, J.S. (2005). The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in South Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Slabbert, van Zyl F., Malan, C., Olivers, K., & R. Riordan. (1994). Youth in the new South Africa: Towards policy formation. Pretoria: HSRC Publishers.

Worden, N. (2000). The Making of Modern South Africa: Conquest, Segregation and Apartheid, 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Pettifor, A.E., Measham , D.M., Rees, H.V., & N.S. Padian. (November 2004). ‘Sexual Power and HIV Risk: South Africa.’ Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(11), 1996-2004.

Ruden, S. (May 17, 2000). ‘AIDS in South Africa: Why the churches matter.’ Christian Century, 117(16), 566S.

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