How has globalization affected our communities?

This article was written in response to a prompt by the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Monthly prompt to the question: Globalization: Has it been a blessing or a curse in your community?

By Tanaka ChingonzoGlobal Shapers Harare Hub

Globalization has resulted in the upheaval of traditional structures and cultures and continues to foster the empowerment of Zimbabwean people and to push them up the value chain.

A Zimbabwean saying reads, “Chakafugidza dzimba matenga.”Loosely interpreted in English it means, “The affairs of each household are beholden to and understood only by those who dwell in that household. A lot happens behind closed doors.” In the world of half a century, ago where geographical boundaries were the only true boundaries- that assertion held true. With the globalization of the last half century and the proliferation of new media of communications- mediums like the internet and mobile phones that transcend these geographical boundaries, there has been an incredible shift in global culture from its previously dispersed nature to one more united. The people of the world have come from all our different tables and come to sit at the same metaphorical dinner table to share and exchange mannerisms, culture, and beliefs.

This merging and upheaval of cultures have been a boon on every facet of human life. Science in developing countries has grown profoundly from that of much more developed countries through trade. This same global trade has seen the economies of the world develop together. The incredible innovation and mass production of the East is diffusing into Africa. The intellects of Africa and the developing world are diffusing to the West. Billions of dollars in aid are diffusing from the West into Africa. All this and more has resulted from global trade. It goes on and on.

The people of Zimbabwe have harnessed this globalization and the flow of innovation and technology to change their comparative advantages, to move up the value chain. Young people in Zimbabwe through entrepreneurship are raising their incomes and living standards and by agglomeration, those of the nation too. This has seen the emergence of entities like Techzim and citizen journalism platforms which allow communities to report their own news and surpass state censorship. ZiFM- the country’s first and only private radio station too has been founded in recent years placing the power to report news and communicate on a mass scale in the hands of citizens.

Through a much wider lens, it is easy to see how each of these micro events has had a much larger effect. Globalization has allowed the factors of production to trickle down the value chain from the state that traditionally held them — to the consumer- the citizen.

Capital has been able to flow from savers through microfinance institutions and saving cooperatives to borrowers seeking opportunities in every corner of the planet. A world bank report says the net effect of greater global integration has been that about a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in the past 20 years. Zimbabwe has experienced this first hand with a new generation of young people empowering themselves and stepping up to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This new generation of leaders is simultaneously tasked with solving more traditional problems like corruption, a struggling economy and failing urban and rural infrastructure. We too are faced with the dilution of our culture by cultures we do not fully understand leading to the development of ambiguous subcultures and an arguable loss of identity. Drug use.

When people emulate and adapt traits of cultures they do not completely understand and abandon their own, it can be argued that a nation loses its values. People in Zimbabwe view it more as an evolution of identity than an outright loss. Culture has to change for a society to survive as everything else around us changes. Jobs and the face of employment are facing. The economy is changing, and the face of life on the street continues to change as foreign culture and ideas continue to penetrate the Zimbabwean home through film, television, the internet, and music. By learning across cultures and from other nations on the global stage- as language and long distance become less and less significant barriers to trade, our nations continue to advance at light speed. Unlike any other generation before us, we have the experience and wisdom of the world due to our interconnectedness.

We are able to find and implement global solutions to the problems that face us. Entrepreneurship is growing in the Zimbabwean marketplace and its contribution to the Gross National Product continues to be more and more significant. The startup and innovation culture of Silicon Valley is developing roots in Harare and Bulawayo, leading to innovative solutions to Zimbabwean problems. Globalization has resulted in the upheaval of traditional structures and cultures and continues to foster the empowerment of Zimbabwean people and to push them up the value chain.

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