Stuck: Rwandan Youth and the Struggle for Adulthood

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University of Georgia Press, 2012 - Political Science - 281 pages
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Young people are transforming the global landscape. As the human popu­lation today is younger and more urban than ever before, prospects for achieving adulthood dwindle while urban migration soars. Devastated by genocide, hailed as a spectacular success, and critiqued for its human rights record, the Central African nation of Rwanda provides a compelling setting for grasping new challenges to the world's youth.

Spotlighting failed masculinity, urban desperation, and forceful governance, Marc Sommers tells the dramatic story of young Rwandans who are “stuck,” striving against near-impossible odds to become adults. In Rwandan culture, female youth must wait, often in vain, for male youth to build a house before they can marry. Only then can male and female youth gain acceptance as adults. However, Rwanda's severe housing crisis means that most male youth are on a treadmill toward failure, unable to build their house yet having no choice but to try. What follows is too often tragic. Rural youth face a future as failed adults, while many who migrate to the capital fail to secure a stable life and turn fatalistic about contracting HIV/AIDS.

Featuring insightful interviews with youth, adults, and government officials, Stuck tells the story of an ambitious, controlling government trying to gov­ern an exceptionally young and poor population in a densely populated and rapidly urbanizing country. This pioneering book sheds new light on the struggle to come of age and suggests new pathways toward the attainment of security, development, and coexistence in Africa and beyond.

Published in association with the United States Institute of Peace


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List of Illustrations
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Appendix BetWager Performance Contracts on the Umudugudu Level

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About the author (2012)

Marc Sommers is an internationally recognized youth expert and a visiting researcher with Boston University's African Studies Center. Sommers is a 2011–2012 Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was a USIP Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow in 2009–2010. He is the author of six previous books including Islands of Education: Schooling, Civil War, and the Southern Sudanese (1983–2004) and Fear in Bongoland: Burundi Refugees in Urban Tanzania, which received the Margaret Mead Award in 2003.

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