“Stuck in Freedom Park” – Youth transitions and social inclusion amongst coloured youth in Tafelsig, Cape Town
South Africa is experiencing a youth bulge, with much public debate about whether this spells success or disaster for the country’s future. Some of the critical debates highlighted in the literature on youth centre on youth transitions to adulthood, socio-economic and spatial mobility linked to issues of identity, inclusion and citizenship as well as agency and negotiation of alternative transition pathways. This paper explores some of these issues by tapping into the literature on youth transition pathways and linking this to Castell’s notion of disaffiliation. The focus is on ten out of school, unemployed young people who reside in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain in Cape Town. The paper argues that these two sets of literature allow one to describe and make sense of the different dimensions of “stuckness” experienced by the young people and the impact that it has on their sense of belonging, inclusion and notions of citizenship. Short-term interventions might facilitate a slight shift on Castell’s continuum from disaffiliation to integration for at least some of the youth. However, in the long run, significant improvements in the education system, restructuring of the economy to address unemployment and spatial reconfiguration of South African cities to reduce poverty and inequality will have a meaningful impact on the lives of young people in South Africa. This must be accompanied by a broad range of social and cultural programmes, engaging youth from across different communities, in order to foster integration and social cohesion.