A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
particular issue, and this is what makes it valuable in a case such as this. Even if the respondents’ views seem to the researchers to be biased, confused, or factually inaccurate, they nevertheless reflect the truth as understood by the respondents. Researchers who have been trained to see their work as having objectivity may find it difficult to accept an oral testimony approach, in which the subjectivity of the material is one of its most valued features.
How the ‘Voices of Youth’ research project was conducted
The research was carried out in three stages writing up.
: planning, fieldwork, analysis, and
Planning: To ensure that a common approach was maintained by the three country projects, a series of workshops was held which brought the three teams together to plan and analyse the work and to facilitate networking between them. The workshops were hosted by each of the teams, and the co-ordinating team in Nairobi, in rotation, enabling them to experience each others’ working environments. The first workshop was held in Bujumbura in March 2006 and provided training in SEA. The second, held in Gulu in June 2006, focused on oral testimony. Researchers had the opportunity to carry out practice interviews with displaced child mothers within Gulu municipality, clarify their research questions, and make plans for the conduct of the fieldwork.
Fieldwork: interviews were carried out between July and October 2006. The main method used was oral testimony (open-ended) interviews with selected categories of young people. In each OT interview, two or three ‘guiding questions’ were identified to form the framework for the interviews; these were tailored to focus on gender-based violence and the promotion of youth citizenship that had been identified for the research in the three projects. For example, in Gulu there were two main guiding questions for the child mothers, namely: ‘Tell us about your life during this period of war, and the problems you encountered’ and ‘How would you describe your relationship with your family, peers, in-laws, husband, etc?’ Apart from these guiding questions, the interviewers had no ready-prepared questions, and the rest of the interview proceeded much as an ordinary conversation does. In the course of the conversation much information came to the fore - about, for example, the sort of violence the interviewees had undergone and its consequences
before the interviewers eventually turned the talk around to the respondents’
hopes for their future.
As well as interviewing young people, the country projects also selected other categories of ‘key informants’ for semi-structured interviews or for focus group discussions. These categories included representatives of local authorities, parents,