Youth in urban African townships, 1945-1992 : a case study of the East London townships.
In this study an attempt is made to trace and analyse the changing nature of African youth in urban areas, with particular reference to the East London locations. The period covered is the period from the 1940s to the end of 1992. In common wisdom, an impression is often created that African youth is a homogeneous grouping. This has been particularly the case in the 1980s, when the youth of this country took to the streets and challenged the status quo in a manner unknown in South Africa's recorded history. However, the main conclusion of this study is that the African youth is not homogeneous, and has never been during the period under review. It is argued in the study that the youth divides into various categories which at times interact with one another, but are at times antagonistic to each other. It has been stressed though, that the various categories have not remained the same. Almost all underwent various changes and transformations. Some of the changes and transformations were radical, leading to the disappearance of some categories, for example, the old distinction of 'school' and 'red' youth. Where such took place, new categories have emerged, even in instances where the intentions were to bring the various categories under the roof of a single category, for example, bringing various categories under the wing of the political youth, or comrade (qabane), as was the case in the 1980s. In tracing the changing nature of African youth in urban areas, the underlying argument has been that there is no evidence of a single youth culture ever prevailing for long. This study attempts to explain why such a culture was not possible. Only a grasp of historical process will, moreover, help to explain the changing youth scene.