Youth Gangs in Urban Africa: A Comparative Study of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa

Project status


This study explores the contrasting ways in which the local and the global interact to shape urban street gang culture, formation and behaviour across Africa and over time. By doing so, it aims to help scholars and policymakers develop responses to urban insecurity that are better tailored to their unique contexts, helping to avoid importing solutions developed in other cities that may not always be locally appropriate. To provide focus, the research team brings together four scholars specialising in youth, urban history, conflict and gang studies to conduct in-depth field interviews with gangs and their communities in Nigeria (Lagos) and South Africa (Cape Town). These findings will be combined with the team’s recent research in Sierra Leone to generate an original comparative analysis of the histories and contemporary dynamics shaping street-gangs in these cases. The focus will then be expanded continental-wide, to produce the first in-depth, interdisciplinary comparative study of urban street gangs across Africa

Research team

Dr Kieran Mitton, King's College London; Professor Ibrahim Abdullah, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone; Dr Guy Lamb, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Professor Ayodeji Olukoju, University of Lagos, Nigeria

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