Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gambia: Globalization and Culture

 Article by  Sanna Jawara17 January 2012

Ramifications of globalization in all aspects of human life across the world are visible, especially on our rich traditional and cultural norms and values. Our lives and ways of living are no longer what they used to be centuries ago, when people hardly travel beyond their immediate environment or settlements, contrary to the current trend as exhibited in mass migration both internal and external.

Globalization has made the world became a thin global village. We don't have to go that far to see the economic theories relating to globalization and its impacts on our lives either individually or collectively. Our lives have now been inundated with introduction of different products and services; ranging from computers, sophisticated laptops, micro phones, mobile phones, wireless internet connections and so on, all of which help in the rapid transformation of our lives.

However, we must acknowledge that everything on this planet has its own merits and demerits and globalization is not an exception to this reality. In as much as we speak about its importance, we must also not lose sight of its side effects, especially where our traditional and cultural norms and values are concerned.

However, the motivation to come up with this issue stems from a day-long debate on the subject by the University of The Gambia and De Montfort University of UK, held last Friday in the main hall of the UTG at the Brikama Campus. At the said debate, the concept of globalization was delved into by many eminent scholars and academics who all acknowledged the importance and side effects of the subject.

Prominent developments such as the dvent of science and technology in the 21st century, the introduction of some major economic policies by the world's most powerful financial institutions; such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB); as well as the 9/11th 2001 terror attack on the US, the reactions of the US to the said inhumane action among other global issues greatly affected international relations and the ordinary business of life.

We must appreciate and acknowledge the speed and scope that globalization has gone ºbeyond the imagination of an ordinary person, because it cuts across all sectors of life including our cultural norms and values. Its impact is felt and affects virtually everything we do and say in this world. What life used to be in our traditional settings has now been greatly shaped and directed by aculturation through the influences of globalization.

Rapid industrialization accompanied by rapid migrations at local, national, sub-regional, regional and global levels are evidences of globalization, where in people could travel thousands of miles within minutes and hours contrary to when people used to travel on either foot or other primitive tools to far distance places.

The world of tourism stands out as a typical example about the effects of globalization to which our little Gambia is not an exception. The Gambia like other African countries has rich traditional cultural values, but with the world coming together as one big village, with such a speed and scope, things are no longer what they used to be as far as promotion, protection and preservation of our cherished cultures are concerned.

We have seen and felt the effects of tourism on our education, skills, labour force, brain drains among others. The unprecedented attitudinal change in our youths towards national development, which contrasted the way and manner an ideal Gambian or African child is brought up and prepared to take his or her rightful place in societal development and welfare of the family, community and nation at large. The short skirts, high shoes and other unusual forms of dresses exposing our bodies to the hazards of our immediate environment among others attest to this fact.

The way forward

To balance the impacts of globalization, as highlighted at the recent UTG De Monfort lecture Africa must adapt to the changing circumstances brought about by globalization. It was further argued that the world is no longer what it used to be when it comes to advancement in science and technology and as such the continent must either join the trend of globalization or be left behind for the worst consequences.

The only way out as others will call it, is 'thinking out of the box'; for Africa to build on its development sectors to cope with the spirit of globalization. We must build on our educational systems, health, agriculture, infrastructure among others. The youths must be ready and willing to embrace change and make effective and efficient use of latest scientific equipment at their disposal, while at the same time striving to promote our culture at all times. We cannot ignore the importance of science and technology brought to our door steps by globalization, all what is expected of us is the total change of attitude accompanied with a deep sense of self awareness.


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