The other day I had a really candid discussion with a Matatu driver, these Matatu drivers tend to be the uncensored voices that even nerdy professors need listen. This particular driver was lamenting.
‘My brother just died,’ He said.
‘Oh sorry, I said,’ how? I asked.
‘He had a tumor, he died two days ago at Kenyatta National Hospital,’ he continued.
He then continued to pore over the rather unfortunate circumstances that the led to his brother’s death.
It turns out that his brother was a member of the Akorino sect. Quite messianic and dogmatic, did not believe in modern technology nor medicine, he died from an innocuous non malignant tumor that would have been treated without so much of an incision, when he went to hospital it was already too late.
The Matatu driver continued to narrate the story of his deceased brother, ‘Ucio ndaratumagira thimu, ati thimu ni daimon,’ that one could not use a phone, because he considered phones demons from the West,’ he told me in local language.
I sat there wondering how a person in the year of Our Lord 2014 would live without a mobile phone? Mobile phones had become such indelible parts of our lives; it would be difficult to imagine a male adult living without one. What prompted a man to live such a colourless life? Did he wear clothes? What sort of blackhole had he forced upon his family? I asked myself. What sort of reactionary freak was he? I just could not figure out.
Perhaps he was one of this reactionary Africans that misconstrued globalization as de-Africanization, one who considered the modern tools, like phones, the Internet as tools of imperial re-annexation of the African continent. I know people like these, the same people who in their faux belief in socialist grandeur started the World Social Forum, in a bid to halt globalization.
Does globalization lead to the inevitable death of African cultures? If globalization leads to the global diffusion of positive values then I would not have gripe with globalization. Any aspirational society would generally welcome an infusion of positive values from wherever those values might come from. Part of the reason the anti-globalization tirade grew especially more so among the conservatives is that most thought globalization has started with the Internet age, nothing could be further from the truth.
When the Phoenecians started scouring the sea, moving around the Mediterranean, trading in goods the roots of the globalization had been planted, between then and now we have had toasted bread and other useful inventions have come up. It is simply not true that, globalization is de-Africanizing Africa, far from it globalization is Africanizing the world.
Figure this a group of Maasai Moran from their Kraal in the Maasai Mara can tell their story of conquest, of robbing lions off their wild beast kill, with nothing but a simple mobile phone. This without the subjective commentary of your regular western anthropologist explorer. They bring Maasai culture to the world, they bring the world to the Maasai Mara, an enthusiastic Londoner or Parisian who picks their video up considers travelling all the way to the Mara, not only to see the wildebeest take a plunge into the water during the migration, but also to indulge into the rich Maasai culture that he has become so much accustomed to. Before you know it the checked red and black clothe that the Maasai Moran adorns in the Mara, make it to the London or Parisian runway. That’s globalizing, that’s Africa selling herself to the world, for her own and the worlds benefit to.
Africa can give as much as it can take. It is a world of possibilities, to be nurtured by those who can see we are free to bloom and blossom in the liberty that globalization offers.