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Imaginings of African Youth


The Imaginings of African Youth sponsored by ELMA Philanthropies Services (US) Inc., sought to recognize the value of the voices of African youth so that they no longer feel ignored. Imaginings was developed as a way to give to and receive from the young bright minds of Africa. The purpose of the project was to encourage information-sharing with youth groups across Southern Africa, as a critical way to inform ELMA’s future grant making.

Imaginings sought to capture all that is insightful and hopeful about African youth. It is a project that – like the explosion of light (that is its logo) – captured the actual voices, experiences and ideas of youth to brilliantly shine through. While the dark side was also inevitably uncovered – the uncertainties, the tragedies and the despair – the project ultimately revealed the diverse and meaningful totality of the experiences of youth. This was done by conducting impressionistic research and faithfully recording the discussions from focus groups.

The Imaginings of African Youth project met a need well beyond the value of a traditional faceless baseline study. It contributed toward the building of respect for youth perspectives and recognition of their talents. As one youth said, “creativity without skills is nothing but a good idea.” Imaginings, therefore, captured the need for youth to be empowered, by undergirding ideas with specific recommendations about capacity-building.