It Has Been in My Mind: How Former Tanzanian Youth Activists Remember and Justify their Present Social Actions

Literature on activism in Sub-Saharan Africa gives us a good glimpse of how activism work operates at a point in time. However, there are few studies that show the long term effects of activist work over time especially how founding ideas are reworked and diverge from their initial use. My paper will examine how a group of Tanzanian former activists retrace, remember and justify their present actions and worldviews based on their involvement in a youth activist group in the 2000s. It will be a retrospective and present analysis of their activist work nearly fifteen years since their inception. It is a study based on the work of youth activist group called Aang Serian peace village, which means “House of Peace” in Masai language. Aang Serian was based in Arusha, Tanzania.  Aang Serian advocated the use of Tanzanian traditions as a basis for developing solutions for youth marginalization in urban areas during the transition period from socialism to market economy in Tanzania. Using interviews with former members, their discussions in social media and participant observation spanning over fifteen years, I show how the former member of Aang Serian argue their involvement in the activist work constitute them as a distinct group and individuals, a process that have changed how their think and act with different actors. These former activist use the term Aang Serian spirit to characterize their distinct identity and mode of social action. My paper will suggest that studies that pay attention to activism and its effects over time can illuminate the ways that individuals and groups citizen identities are transformed and sustained, changes that are sometimes difficult to access during the moment itself.


Mohamed . Ifakara Health Institute .

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