Generation Z, also known as Gen-Z, is the cohort born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s. They are the first generation to have grown up in a world dominated by the internet, social media, and instant gratification. In Africa, this generation is no different, but they are often portrayed as a “doomsday generation.” This portrayal is largely based on their social media behaviour, political activism, and their perceived lack of traditional values, and societal degradation of norms and morals.
Gen-Z in Africa is a diverse and dynamic group of individuals, just like any other generation. They have their own unique challenges and opportunities, and it is vital to recognize and celebrate their contributions to society. One of the defining characteristics of Gen-Z in Africa is their heavy reliance on social media. They are the first generation to have grown up with smartphones, and they spend a lot of time on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. This has led to concerns about the impact of social media on their mental health and well-being. Some studies have suggested that excessive social media use can lead to increased rates of anxiety and depression and that it can also contribute to a lack of face-to-face communication skills.
Gen-Z in Africa is also known for its political activism. This generation is more socially and politically aware than any other generation before them, and they are not afraid to speak up and demand change. This has been evident in recent protests across the continent, where young people have taken to the streets to demand better governance, social justice, and an end to police brutality. However, some have criticized Gen-Z’s political activism as being too “slacktivist,” with young people more likely to express their opinions online than to take concrete action in the real world.
Another concern surrounding Gen-Z in Africa is their perceived lack of traditional values. Some argue that this generation is less respectful of elders and less interested in traditional family structures than previous generations. This is often attributed to the influence of Western culture, as well as the breakdown of traditional social structures in urban areas. However, it is important to note that the notion of “traditional values” is a complex and contested one and that different generations have different interpretations of what these values mean. These continue to raise deep concerns about the nature of the future of African society.
Despite these concerns, there are also many positive aspects of Gen-Z culture in Africa. This generation is highly educated and technologically savvy, and they are poised to drive economic growth and development across the continent. They are also more inclusive and accepting of diversity than previous generations, and they have the potential to be a force for positive change in their communities and beyond. With methods and means completely different and oftentimes unacceptable, they shine rays of hope on the dynamic nature of the African future.
Ultimately, the portrayal of Gen-Z as a doomsday generation in Africa is not entirely accurate. While there are certainly challenges associated with this cohort, there are also many opportunities for growth and development. As with any generation, it is important to understand and appreciate the unique characteristics and perspectives of Gen-Z and to work together to build a better future for all Africans.
Written by: Chizaram D. Ezugwu (Zara Ray)