“Stuck in Freedom Park”—Youth Transitions and Social Inclusion amongst Coloured Youths in Tafelsig, Cape Town

Keywords: youth, transitions, waithood, disaffiliation


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 article explores some of these issues by tapping into the literature on youth transition pathways, and linking them to Castel’s notion of disaffiliation. The article argues that these sources of data allowed me to describe and make sense of the different dimensions of “stuckness†experienced by the youth, and of the impact that being stuck has on their sense of belonging, inclusion and notions of citizenship. I conducted interviews with 10 out-of-school, unemployed young people who reside in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Participants were asked about their histories in the city, where they had lived, how they had ended up where they currently resided as well as their aspirations for their future, their neighbourhoods, the city and their country. The study’s findings were that short-term interventions might facilitate a slight shift in Castel’s continuum from disaffiliation to integration for at least some of the youth. However, in the long run, significant improvements in the education system, a restructuring of the economy to address unemployment, and a 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. These improvements must be accompanied by a broad range of social and cultural programmes, engaging youths from across different communities, in order to foster integration and social cohesion.

Author Biography

Mercy Magdalene Brown-Luthango, University of Cape Town
African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town