No matter the age range, youth implies a group of young people in a society who have a lot of energy, new ideas, and new ways to see life and face problems.
Zimbabwe has witnessed general differences between rural and urban youth livelihoods. Be they in the form of not only geographic location but also in relation to access to basic social services such as education, healthcare also employment.
The geographic location has largely been the greatest difference between the lifestyles and livelihoods of rural and urban young Zimbabweans. This is as a direct result of the historically legacy of underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural areas where access to services is much more limited or less concentrated than in the urban. It is a developmental disparity that has led to continued rural-urban migration of young Zimbabweans in search of better life changing job opportunities or access to life improving services.This also extends to the social lifestyles of the two demographic groups.
Nelvin Katsoka an urban youth who resides in Hatfield Harare, visits his family home in Guruve frequently and has witnessed that young people in that rural area get married earlier than their peers in urban zones thus becoming active in adult responsibilities before the urban youth.
“Most rural youth also become labourers at the age of 12, serving in tobacco farms for minimal wages of at least 3 to 5 dollars per day spent in the field(maricho)to cater for their family needs”, said Nelvin.
While visiting my relatives in Murehwa, I also observed that the rural youth practice almost the same method of earning cash that is engaging in cash crop production mainly tobacco growing while those not interested in agriculture engage in brick laying.Limited service delivery by rural district councils and failure to develop infrastructure has been a major setback.
During an interview with the urban youth, most of them could not really say what differentiate themselves from the rural youth. Most of the responses were about how the urban claim to have “swagg”.
Such statements may be attributable to ignorance or alternatively a disdain by urban youths for the lifestyles and experiences of the rural youth. Youth activist Tawanda Moyo stated that as an urban youth ,he is advanced in terms of technology and things that he values.
“ Urban youth nowadays want to own technological things like laptops, tablets and iphones”, said Tawanda.
He also went on to say that because the technological gap is becoming small due to the availability of network providers in most parts of Zimbabwe, some rural youth now have smart phones.
In some cases rural youth are conscious of social sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp that are used frequently by many of Zimbabwe’s urban young. While rural youth favors phones that can play use memory cards to record and play music.
Music is therefore the one thing that ties the urban and rural youth. Both are interested in the recently set up new genre of Zimbabwean dance-hall music. It is however evident that the challenges faced by rural youth though much more daunting are no different from those in the urban. The major differences between the two is essentially a lack of infrastructure and limited opportunities for access to social services and communication.
However the bigger challenges that affect both urban and rural youth remain the same across the board. Namely, unemployment, lack of opportunities to pursue careers of their choice and poverty.