Can youth in Tanzania challenge the established regime?

Pre-election meeting of the opposition in Tanzania.

Pre-election meeting of the opposition in Tanzania.

In October 2015 Tanzania underwent historical and highly-competitive elections. For the first time people had a real choice between two candidates, and over half of the voters were under the age of 35. Can the young generation challenge a system of power that has been in place since the 1960s?

The October 2015 Tanzanian elections brought a host of latent tensions to the surface, especially when it comes to the youth. The Tanzanian “youth bulge” brings with it a set of challenges in terms of development. What is more, circumstances point to an ongoing generational shift, especially when it comes to narratives of the relationship between the individual and the state, and an on-going move away from the basic national narrative. The youth are writing new national narratives based on a host of new and generationally specific circumstances and challenges.

The elections also revealed an on-going political “awakening” within the youth. The mabadiliko (Change) «movement», though lacking in direction and vision, indicated that the youth cohort is beginning to find some sort of political voice outside of the underground youth culture and informalized life-worlds in which many of the young usually express discontent. This newfound «clean» political voice carried through all the way to the top-level and forced the political elite to respond to (or at least appear to be responding to) the demands of an increasingly vocal young population.

More information: The Norwegian Council for Africa has recently relaunched an upgraded version of their website and this article was written for that occasion. Read the article, in Norwegian, here.

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