The Kids Aren’t Alright

What are all those crazy Congolese teenagers dreaming of now a days? Wanting to hang out on the street corners after their bedtimes and chase endless summer days you might ask? Over at Microcon, Timothy Raeymaeker has an answer for you. In his new paper, “Forced Displacement and Youth Employment  in the Aftermath of the Congo War: From  Making a Living to Making a Life” Raeymaeker conducts an in-depth ethnography of displayed youth in Butembo and finds that all the kids, well, want to be living the city life:

When looking at their ambitions, however, the tendency is definitely towards urban professions and lifestyles: a large majority of interviewed youth (85 percent) don’t want to maintain agriculture as a primary occupation but instead envisages a future in the city in for example commerce and services (about 40 percent), intellectual labour (17 percent), artisan occupations (10 percent), or administrative jobs (10 percent). Any social programme that envisages helping displaced youth to develop their capacities should involve awareness about this quest for a socioeconomic climate attached to the imagery of city life.

Unfortunately though,  the oligopolistic nature of North-eastern Congolese markets make it difficult for migrants with out ties to break into and ultimately prevent them from achieving their future goals. Raeymaker’s ethnographic analysis of youth and markets in the Eastern DRC provides an interesting paper well worth a read.


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