Between expectations and opportunities

urban youth navigating duress in a globalized southern Nigeria

The project, provisionally entitled ‘Between expectations and opportunities: urban youth navigating duress in a globalized southern Nigeria’ looks at the ways in which these youth navigate their lives in a context of long-term socioeconomic uncertainty and political insecurity. Key to understanding this navigation, is the (global) connectedness of these young Nigerians through local networks and global connectivity, through ‘old’ and new ICTs. Being increasingly connected means changing expectations, but also changing opportunities. In a context of duress, where the state is absent in providing basic needs, security and infrastructure, and where traditional and modern expectations collide, Nigerian youth has to creatively adopt ways of securing (improved) futures for themselves and their families. They are using their online and offline networks in inventive ways to work themselves up the social ladder, for example by setting up small scale businesses or building up a political career.

Mobile internet and the social media play an important role, not only in the ways in which youth use them to their future advantage practically. It’s also arguably essential for young Nigerians to inform themselves about and cope with uncertainty and insecurity in the country: a crucial aspect in dealing with the complexity of everyday life in urban centers in Nigeria’s south. Religion and humor are examples of discourses through which duress is emotionally digested and which grasp the soul of long-term endurance of societal uncertainties. This research argues that these media and these discourses on duress shape youth’s decision-making in contemporary southern Nigeria in new, inventive ways.