Journal of Cape Verdean Studies


All over Africa young people face serious economic, social and emotional challenges in their everyday lives as the generation hardest hit by the failures of neoliberalism (Honwana 2012). In the absence of political role models, this so-called ‘waithood generation’, has rejected traditionally understood notions of political participation associated with representative democracy and are taking the role of active citizens moving away from the ‘myopic obsession’ over voting and party systems.

In Cabo Verde in particular, where politics are characterised by vertical relations of everyday political life and citizen-state interactions, this paper analyses young people as a window to understanding broader socio-political and economic transformations and explore the ways in which these processes of change shape and are being shaped by the young. It highlights how despite all the challenges they face, youth are actively participating in political, social and economic developments and, in the process, constructing their own identities. Thus, departing from orthodox approaches to democracy, this paper considers dissent as central to politics, (Rancière 2011) and questions the viability of the current state of democracy and governance globally. Africa being the ‘youngest continent in the world’ with a median population of around 20 years old (Mo Ibrahim Foundation 2012), what are the implications of these acts of social disobedience and dissent for representative democracy?