Root of problems facing indigenous youth

By Xukuri Xukuri | May 24th, 2013
Root cause of challenges facing indigenous youth is exclusion and marginalisation
Root cause of challenges facing indigenous youth is exclusion and marginalisation

Indigenous youth in Africa are the main hope for the advancement of indigenous self-determination and the preservation of the culture of their ancestors. But most indigenous youth in Africa have lost some aspects of the traditional values passed on by their forefathers. This has resulted in a sense of rootlessness and identity loss.

The youth recognise that poverty has denied them the opportunity to be active participants in determining the future of their peoples. Living in democracies, their marginalization and voicelessness stems from their small numbers. In the face of the overwhelming majority, they cannot enjoy proper representation and participation in decision-making. Thus, governments are doing little to protect indigenous minorities from the interests of the majority.

Burdened with political, social and economic challenges, African indigenous youth suffer extreme marginalization. The Human Rights Commission states that the promotion and protection of the rights of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are key to the advancement of socio-political stability and cultural diversity. But very little is being done.

However, progress can be made and indigenous youth can be included in critical processes and enabled to actively participate in decisions affecting their lives if the following recommendations are adopted:

  • All African states should immediately adopt and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 169;
  • All states should amend their national laws, policies and programmes to be in line with the UNDRIP;
  • All states should integrate the customary laws of indigenous peoples into mainstream law and policy;
  • All states should implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly as they relate to youth and their socio-economic circumstances;
  • African states and international donors should provide financial assistance and adequate capacity building for indigenous youth initiatives to allow them to achieve their full potential and engage meaningfully with states and other key players;
  • African states and international donors should support the post-2015 campaign for Peoples Goals for Sustainable Development; and
  • UN agencies should work with key African governments, such as Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, to implement these recommendations.

If these recommendations are followed, indigenous youth in Africa will be able to look forward to a life in which their rights are respected and where they play an active role in processes governing their lives.


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