For the majority of Africans, globalisation seems to be a repetition of that process which unseated them from the table and robbed individuals and groups of human dignity.’ The word that caught my eye in this quote, from a Jesuit report of the Social Justice Secretariat in Rome, is the word ‘unseated.’
In the 1950s in Zimbabwe we had the Federal Government telling us a new dawn of ‘partnership’ was upon us – the concept later being refined to the relationship of rider to horse with no prizes being awarded for guessing who was rider and who was horse. The concept of partnership unseated ‘the majority of Africans’ then and the new buzzword ‘globalisation’ is unseating them now.
The report continues, ‘in the hearts of people one finds a deep uncertainty and lack of meaning and a sense that such benefits as may be derived from globalisation in Africa will only be secondary.’ If globalisation does not work for all it does not work at all. On our doorstep we have witnessed the extraordinary transformation from apartheid to freedom in a few short years in the early 1990s. It can serves as symbol. For ‘globalisation’ read ‘apartheid.’ White South Africans really thought over several decades they could engineer society to serve their interests. But it became untenable. If apartheid did not serve everyone in South Africa it ultimately served no one, and writers have remarked on the palpable feeling of relief among whites when they finally surrendered their laager in 1994.
So it will be with globalisation. But the implications are daunting for it means that we who are suffering under this new apartheid have to find ways of getting into that banqueting hall. And of course it starts on the local level. Not too many conversations in our part of the world are about globalisation. We are too enmeshed in our local woes for that. I met a man the other day on his way to Harare and, as we swerved the potholes and remarked on the power cuts and lack of medicine, etc, he simply said ‘the vote isn’t working.’ He could have said the hospitals are not working or the city council or ZESA but he went to the heart of the matter. We are ‘unseated.’
But, as with apartheid, there is never a moment when we can accept the present global system. Even if we seem powerless there is a tsunami building up somewhere that will eventually send waves in our direction and sweep away all the cruel indifference that surrounds us. To use the phrase of the poet Hopkins, the Lord will ‘easter’ in us. ‘When that day comes … I will restore your fortunes under your own eyes.’ (Zephaniah 3:20).
The Gospel symbol of the banquet of the Kingdom (Matt 22: 1-14 & Luke 14: 15-24) expresses … the hopes of Africa to share the meal of life with the rest of the world and [also] their despair and despondency in the face of famine, illness and war, excluding them from the world's banquet.