With Donald Trump’s “America First”, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and now the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the talk of “deglobalization” has become louder.
Deglobalization is the world as less and less connected; countries more tribal; hostility to open borders; less regional cooperation; and the decline of global trade.
Last week, the world elite and internationalists gathered in Davos, Switzerland, after a two-year Covid-related hiatus for the World Economic Forum. Deglobalization was the big talking point.
But maybe not so soon. What is dying – or dead – is the globalization that has seen a very western-centric worldview.
Built around fiat money, the US dollar, with the world’s goods, those of giant corporations being built and distributed, Global finance being funneled by a few high finance priests like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, with wealth being redistributed via the stock exchanges from New York, Johannesburg to Nairobi, and the men and women who own their checking his pulse, flying around the world first class or in private jets to international conferences to explain his great works and set new agendas.
But there was always another globalized world outside of it, less glamorous and without billionaires in it. And even in the multitude of recent crises, a new one has always emerged.
During the two worst years of the pandemic, it was always interesting to watch, even as Covid-19 tore apart the old order. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and senior medical adviser to US President Joe Biden; and South African infectious disease scientist Salim Abdool Karim, Chair of South Africa’s Advisory Committee of Ministers on Covid-19.
Fauci spoke often about the trends and insights he gained from speaking to experts from South Africa to Asia. Karim spoke about his conversation with Fauci, an obscure European country and colleagues in Latin America.
While the world was in lockdown during the height of Covid-19 and the struggle for apartheid and vaccine hoarding rich nations have Marred the early days of the recovery, the world has also globalized in one of its largest efforts to share information and knowledge about the virus. Nowhere was this more evident than in the work done by the Addis Ababa-based Africa CDC, which was our pan-African Covid-19 Czar – from sourcing and distributing PPE to the frustrating struggle to get vaccines into African weapons
While portions of fiat money were shielded, decentralized, albeit risky, currencies thrived, and crypto adoption surged by over 300 percent in parts of Africa.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) became huge with African creatives. Nigerian record label owner Don Jazzy, an early mover into the NFT market, worked with a digital artist to add background noise to artwork and sold out in 10 minutes, making about $300,000. Creative Africa raided NFTs in a frenzy.
As we cowered at the virus, global climate justice, Black Lives Matter and fair trade movements to name a few skyrocketed, creating with ease the am most connected communities in the world ever.
Globalization isn’t dead. It just doesn’t arrive in private jets with unlimited credit cards anymore. It shows up in jeans, backpacks, Ankara dresses, Kitenge shirts and possibly dreadlocks.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer and curator of the Wall of Great Africans. [emailprotected]