By Esene MatthiasGlobalization has both positive and negative sides (see J. Bayo Adekanye; 2003). But whether globalization has become a moral indicator in a social framework does not change the fact that it is an inevitable reality precipitated by the wave and tides of human civilization, anchored on science and technology. What is today christened "The Obama Phenomenon" is an effect of the Obama campaign strategy; an influence of his inspirational eloquence, a creed of change and the real "Audacity of Hope". But how much hope do the Africa people have in this face of global realities...a continent whose people are forced out of their homes; many internally displaced, and others cross international borders becoming refugees and fugitives. A people under attack by their own government and living in an environment battered by the effect of armed conflicts and still exploited by the enigma of pseudo capitalism. Many scholars believe that some Africa states operate a capitalist economic system. But they fail to realize that capitalism entails a huge capital investment and massive industrial activities. What is observed in Africa is that the few investments christened "Private sector" are actually institutions funded with public finance but administered privately by the political elite. This system of economy is not capitalistic but pseudo- capitalism because of its exploitative tendency.
This essay starts with an analysis of globalization viewing it in two respects; as a process and as a global culture. it puts President Barrack Obama on the spotlight as he emerged on the America political stage and focused on its implication for Africa. It then examines the nature of sovereignty and the question of governance as two necessary dimensions of globalization in relation to the Africa refugee crisis. The definition of refugee as it concerns the UNHCR is " a person under the 1951 United Nation (UN) convention relating to the status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) Governing the specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, persons recognized as refugees in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted humanitarian or comparable status and those granted temporary protection. Though the status of an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) is not contained in this UN classification of a refugee, for the purpose this essay, the definition shall extend to such persons so identified. The significance of this assumption is predicated on the fact that the instances of refugee have become a passing face in Africa. But the reality of "natural disaster" will still remain, giving rise to a new dimension in situation of "Complex Emergencies." And complex emergencies, whether induced by natural disaster or violent conflict, require the same instrumentality for management.
First, there is a conceptual analysis of Globalization. Some of the issues discussed here bother on the meaning, context of usage, and dynamic nature of globalization. Globalization is relatively a new concept. It is factual to admit that the concept entered our everyday vocabulary since the post cold war era. But this does not deny the fact that its phenomenon assumed a systemic process long before the First World War. Globalization from earlier conception is the visible expansion of economic means and mode of production across international political bothers. The choice of this definition is implicative. Globalization has a multidimensional functionality. In fact, it extends beyond just economic/political aspect of social reality, but includes the socio-ethical, ideological, technological and even religious aspect of social dynamics. In recent times, the concept has been expanded to include "such indicators as the spread of liberal democracy, including the new norms about International Humanitarian Law; increasing trend towards the integration of most national economies into one global economy; transformation of systems of production as well as labour relations; dominance of market forces." (See J. Bayo Adekanye). This definition is implicative to the extent that globalization in the final analysis is essentially an economic effect driving by political dominance. In fact, politics and economic factors are not mutually exclusive. A state's political dominance among other things includes economical interest. In reality, especially at the wake of modernization, a state can only expand its economic interest across international political bothers if it is able to exact its political dominance. This is evident in the balance-of- power politics between the west, led by the United States and the Soviet Union, which characterized the cold war era.
THE TREND OF GLOBALIZATION
Globalization, even though it appears in our recent vocabulary, did not just occur as an event. Rather, it evolves as a process. Its evolution can be arguably traced to the history of the origin of the modern states. In fact, Immanuel Wallenstein argued that modern trend in globalization developed between the 15th and 16th century. For Wallenstein, "this was the first time that an economic system encompassed much of the world with links that superseded national or other political bothers." The modern world economic system transcends the old empire system because it took a multipolar dimension. The old empire had a system of political unit "which through commercial monopolies combined with the use of coercion, directed the flow of economic goods from the peripherals to the centre". But the modern world economic system has developed a pattern of economic relations fostered by technological advancement and specialization. And this is arguably a capitalist world economic order. In fact, Wallenstein put it thus; " only the technique of modern capitalism enabled the modern world economy, unlike earlier attempts, to extend beyond the political boundaries of any one empire." This capitalist technique is the advancement of science and technology. The 21st century has witnessed an explosion and high rate of change in communication technologies; great speed and spread of technological changes and advances; great expansion of technical expertise and skills and media explosion. It can even be contended that the charismatic hallmark of the Obama electioneering campaign became quite a global phenomenon based on the technology of media explosion.
Practically, the level of technological advances precipitates upon the dimensions and dynamics of globalization. It is thus rational to assume that globalization has shrunken the vacuum and increases institutional and international relation. But this does not necessarily translate into economic prosperity for all people in the global village. It appeals to common sense to admit that globalization does not bring about and political and economic or even military equality. The Africa experiences are clear demonstrations of such global contradiction. Yet this contradiction experienced in the world order cannot be directly observed in the theoretical framework of globalization. In fact globalization is not intrinsically a moral indicator. It can at best be described as "amoral" within the context of balance of economic and political power among state actors. Many scholars argue that the relationship among state within the global order is such that, " the core region of north western Europe clearly benefit the most at the expense of the peripherals from this arrangement". But this argument fails to answer why the arrangement has become an imperative. Over the last two decades, many countries especially in Asia and South America are joining the global league of core region states. Malaysia and Cuba are clear examples of such states.
Meanwhile, most Africa states with equal economic comparative advantage have instead dwindled down the track of national development. In mid 1985, famine had swept across Africa from the Atlantic to the Horn and south to Mozambique. (See Bob Geldof, 1999). In 2004, Africa recoded 9.2 million refugees and 25 million Internally Displaces Persons (IDPs). This figure represents more than 28% of world refugees and IDP.s (UNCHR report, 2008). As mentioned earlier, globalization does not inherently contain the politics of balance of power and economic advantage. Globalization can only afford to create a platform where nations can determine the side to which the pendulum of economic advantage must swing. In fact, those states that are moving from the periphery to the core are driven by strong political will and good governance. Where as, the continent of Africa, especially from the early 80's to the late 90's was plaque by an overwhelming refugee crisis. And this was based on internal arm conflict caused by unbridles corruption and pervasive political interest by the political class.
THE OBAMA PHENOMENON AND GLOBAL POLITICS
Nobody may be able to speculate correctly how long Barrack Obama had conceived and prepared himself for the presidency of the United States. But anyone that has read "Dreams from my Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" would realize that president Barrack Obama had prepared himself well for the mantle of leadership with very clear ideas on a variety of policy areas, and with the company of clear-headed intellectual and policy wonks that he kept. Pulling off back to back legislative victories do not just come out of the blue in America politics. But most Africa leaders are leaders by accident (Dr. Ifeanyi Onyeonoru). The Obama Phenomenon is an effect of media potency impressed on the global consciousness; a mode of campaign weaved on inspiring charismatic eloquence. Some social commentators see the emergence of Barrack Obama on main stream America politics as the fulfillment of Martin Luther King (Jnr)'s prophecy thus: I have a dream that a time will come when people will no longer be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character". Whether there is a direct link (which off course is not observable) between the so called "prophetic dream" of Martin Luther and the emergence of Obama, or it is pure accident, has no academic relevance here. The issue worthy of note is the socio-political and intellectual antecedence of Barrack Obama. What is the justification for the Obama Phenomenon? If the world today is moving towards a unipolar world system, the United State is contentiously the pivotal of such a global world order. It follows therefore that the president of the United State has a very strong political influence on the world political stage. Today, as the world is becoming more and more complex and the barrier of space and time shrunken by technology, it becomes imperative to put in the foreground the character of political actors within the global framework, As such, a proper analysis can influence the possibility of " confidence that now and in the future people can join together to build a cooperate and peaceful global society" ( Moravsik, 1997).
During his visit to Ghana in July, 2009, Barrack Obama while addressing the Ghana's parliament remarked thus "I am speaking to you at the end of a long trip. I began in Russian for a summit between two great powers...And i have come here, to Ghana, for a simple reason: the 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome...but what happens in Accra as well". First, president Barrack Obama is quite conscious of his level of political influence as the president of the United State in balancing power on the world stage. Hence, he admitted that his visit to Russia was a meeting between two great powers (Today, 08-04-2010-President Barrack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medevez signed the ground breaking treaty on the reduction of Nuclear Weapon proliferation for a generation). And to emphasize the reality of globalization i.e. the growing network of socio-political and economic nerves criss-crossing and interconnecting all the continent of the world, Barrack Obama acknowledged that decisions bothering on global issues would not just emanate from Europe and America but also from Africa. He sated thus " this is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections... your prosperity can expand America".
Obama continually stated that, Africa is a partner in the scheme of global progress. As such, Africa deserves a space on the world stage. But one wonders who arrogates powers to states among the League of Nations? The answer is clear. Obama admits that:
"I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's own story encompasses both tragedy and triumph of the larger Africa society....Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of Africa continent...the hope of my father's generation gave way to cynicism, even despair. And the west has often approached Africa as a Patron, rather than partner. But the west is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatant. In my father's life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many"
The above extract is a summation of the dimensions of President Obama's political influence in international politics and the failure of governance in Africa within the global context. Even though Obama is truly Africa by his admittance, there are reservations if he could ever have made any significant impact within his local community let alone on the world stage assuming he was on the African soil. But Obama is what is referred to, in some quarters as "the America dream". Whatever that phrases denotes, it is clear that the American society contributed largely to his personal and political achievements. Obama triumph either because of his skin colour or not (with whites) but shares the "same America background". Obama represents a superb talent of gifted graduate from top rate America University and he represents the racial merging rather than a symbol for assimilation.
GLOBALISATION AND SOVEREIGNTY
Sovereignty today has shifted away from the traditional prerogative governments of states assume not to consider any other legitimate authority over and above it political territory. This is because the international community today is becoming more and more intolerable of gross human right violation and other acts of impunity. As such, sovereignty is valued at the ability for a state to maintain internal peace and security. Many states in Africa hide under the guise of sovereignty to perpetuate gross human right violation. In other to justify its failure to contain the refugee crisis caused by internal violence, the Sudanese government had labeled its refugees and IDP's as terrorists. President Barrack Obama admitted that the west had approached Africa as patrons instead of partners. But he denied that the west is responsible for the numerous conflicts in Africa. Much earlier literature on refugee crisis in Africa "focuses on the fact that yesterday's colonial and the boundaries that they imposed are to be held directly responsible for today's refugee crisis. (Kibreab 1985, p. 32). For Walter Rodney, slave trade and colonialism in Africa is the primary cause of underdevelopment in the region. But for J. S. Mbiti and/ or especially Peter Ekeh, the colonial experience in Africa was an epoch; an event in the history of Africa. As such, Africa should have been able to live beyond this event if it had the political will for real development. There is no doubt that the slave trade and colonial experience contributed to the underdevelopment of Africa. Indeed, Barrack Obama admitted it. In fact, Obama, in the final analysis is a product of the Africa colonial experience. But colonialism does not exclusively explain the post independent Africa refugee crisis.
GOVERNANCE AND REFUGEE CRISIS IN AFRICA
Africa accounted for the highest number of world refugees and IDPs caused by the effect of internal war in the 1980s-1990s. The post cold war era brought the number of international conflict around the globe on the down side. Meanwhile, internal conflict in Africa had increased. There had been crisis in Africa's Great Lakes region taking an international prominence in 1996. Conflict escalated in Burundi and eastern Zaire and the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Rwanda. The conflict in the Sudan remained intractable. Though election process had been initiated by the Ahmed Bashir led government in Sudan, which to a large extent, resembles an orchestration for self- secession, one wonder if this will bring lasting peace to the Darfur region. The issue of governance had been a major draw back for Africa development and management of complex emergencies. The visit of Barrack Obama to Ghana last year is very instructive. Globalization encourages the enthronement of good governance and liberal democracies. And Obama's choice of Ghana is most likely related to the relative stability in the emerging democracy in Ghana. He had emphasized that " Africa do not need strong leaders, but strong institutions". Sovereignty is no longer a legal absolute. Instead, it is been chipped away by growing number of laws, creating treaties that limit actions of pervasive impunity of states within the global context
For countries to industrialize successfully, they need to meet certain prerequisites such as a highly productive agricultural sector, functioning markets, and a stable government (See Walt Whitman Rostow ). Globalization is the hallmark of a capitalist world system. (See Marx and Engel). And colonialism intrinsically came with the exploitative tendencies of the capitalist economic system. There is no doubt that during the colonial period, Africa was a peripheral region providing materials for the development of the core western Europe. But Europe has experienced a steady developmental progress long after colonialism. Rather, Africa states that claimed to have a good economic advantage are faced with such contradictions of overwhelming hunger in the midst of plenty. Some Africa states like Ethiopia and Liberia that did not experience direct colonialism have had nothing to show for their self rule. Most Africa political elite argue that the United States have enjoyed over 200 years of self rule. But one wonder how long it took Malaysia (which cannot be said to have a liberal democracy) to develop it infrastructure to world class standard. Africa developmental and Refugee crisis are purely due to poor governance. Most Africa states have been grappling with good electoral process. Instead, Africa politicians are engage in a perverse political struggle. Even if election is argued to be a form of selection, it is valued by the sanctity of the ballot. (Bayo Okunade). And until Africa political elites begin to respect the sanctity of the ballot or there is a systemic revolutionary effort by the civil societies, Africa may remain a continent on the brisk of collapse.
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By Esene Matthias Submitted On February 14, 2011