Colonial Basis of Anomie in African Youth: Implications for Political Governance

Taiwo A. Olaiya


The festering phenomenon of morally deregulated conditions among African youths such as curricular impropriety, cult activities, from examination malpractice, cultism, viciousness, computer-related crimes, and sexual decadences depicts what Emile Durkheim (1893) used anomie to describe. Durkheim posited anomie as the inevitable expectations when societies become more complex, or organic, leading to impersonal behaviours, the dearth of the social bond, and normlessness. Emile Durkheim was a French Sociologist who had mobilised the coinage ‘anomie’ to explain the phenomenon of deregulated societies where interaction rules and expectations were breaking down. The demographic bulge in favour of youth in Africa has raised the stakes for the exacerbation of the lingering governance crisis should the youth continue to flounder in the disintegration of shared norms that hold the morality of societies firm from moral decadence. Most research studies have bordered on documenting that a good number of African youth have become enmeshed in depravities, such as lawlessness, violence, sharp practices, and scams. The focus of this paper provides an improved perspective by examining the social-economic and political foundations of irrational behaviour among African youth and the implications they portend. The paper argued that the youth in the modern States (former colonies) of Africa are unfortunate victims of a loose governance history: a manifestation of colonial masters’ ‘scramble for Africa’ without a whiff of consideration for the fate of the youth and post-independent leaders, who simply continued in the same fashion. The modern-day political praxis in Africa of low participation of youth and lack of youth liberty and self-development is a carry-over of not only the over-utilisation of elders as colonial proxies despite much aspiring youth but also the suppression of agitation by the youth against the commissioned elders. This conditioned many of the attitudes, which dominated policy-making and political victimisation of the youth in contemporary Africa. Thus, it is that colonial past that provided (or failed to provide) the definition of morality spectrum capable of insulating the youths against the festering anomic spree.

Keywords: Youth Anomie, Social Norms, Colonialism in Africa, Moral Decadence; Political Governance

DOI: 10.7176/DCS/10-7-05

Publication date:July 31st 2020

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