Getting Ready for Life : Life Strategies of Town Youth in Mozambique and Tanzania

Abstract: The aim of this dissertation is to explore how and under what conditions life strategies of young men and women unfold in the towns of Masasi in southern Tanzania and Montepuez in northern Mozambique. These towns are located in regions which in their national contexts are perceived as peripheral and rural. The thesis examines the life strategies of youth, with particular emphasis on livelihood, education and mobility. How the life strategies can be related to the representations of young people in national and local discourses, and how global processes are involved in young people’s daily lives are also examined. The fieldwork was conducted between 2002 and 2004 and the main part of the empirical material consists of structured and semi-structured interviews.Many young people are under substantial pressure to support themselves and their families, but a conflict exists between the expectations on youth to contribute to the household economy and their possibilities to do so. There is also a contradiction between being needed for labour and being trusted with responsibilities. Harsh economic conditions, combined with a weak position in terms of power, increase the vulnerability of young people in these places.Global processes influence young people’s lives, primarily expressed through changed patterns of consumption. However, there is a feeling of exclusion from globalisation in terms of work. Self-employment is promoted as a solution to poverty by the government and by various organisations, but young people contest this discourse and demand ‘real’ employment for themselves and for their children. Young people’s mobility experiences are mainly local due to a local social network and limited resources. Those with larger resources tend to be more mobile and the more privileged youth aspire to move to the larger cities or abroad. Agriculture is a complementary livelihood strategy, which implies that the rural economy still has an important function as a safety net within the urban landscape.