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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Unity for Development': Youth Associations in North-Western Ghana
Author:Lentz, CarolaISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Ghana
Development and Technology
Miscellaneous (i.e. Demography, Refugees, Sports)
Abstract:Since the mid-1970s numerous 'youth and development associations', with membership based on origin in a particular territory or on ethnic affiliation, have been founded in northern Ghana. These associations have become significant actors in various political arenas. The present article examines the associations' history, self-image, internal organization and political as well as cultural dynamic. Taking the example of the northwest, where over 60 interviews were conducted between 1989 and 1995 with committee and ordinary members of the most important youth associations of the region, some of the problems confronting the organizations are discussed. These include conflicts in creating and delimiting the community whose interests the association seeks to represent to the outside world (territorial versus ethnic boundaries), and the problems of defining the concept of membership (automatic versus voluntary), which reflect the tensions between community and organization, the grassroots and the educated elite. Because these problems could threaten the very survival of the associations they use up a considerable proportion of their energies in becoming an 'identity' movement, transforming a heterogeneous population group into a self-aware community. The discourses, symbols and rituals connected with this level of action of the youth associations are also analysed. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.