Globalization: A Threat to Third World Existence—A Study of Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy; Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross; and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
Vivian Tah
The University of Bamenda, Bamenda, Cameroon.
DOI: 10.4236/als.2021.94019   PDF    HTML   XML   206 Downloads   1,078 Views  


This paper entitled “Globalization: A Threat to Third World Existence—A Study of Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross, and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses” demonstrates that global and local interconnectedness relegates most developing nations and intensifies crises. The paper questions the possibility of a flat space that alleviates poverty and promotes equity in all spheres of existence. The problem diagnosed here is that globalization undermines the socio-cultural and economic integrities of developing nations, thereby posing as threat to their existence in a hybridized society. The paper argues that globalization is an organized method on which imperialism operates, and undeveloped nations throttle in crises. Postcolonial theory adequately suits contextual analyses especially as it deals with centre/margin binaries and also issues concerning space and identity. Findings revealed that globalization threatens the existence of most third world societies who need socio-cultural and economic restructuring to resist such threats. The paper concludes that for most developing nations to reap the benefits of globalization there is need to develop consciousness in order to deconstruct dependency and unite efforts, skills, and resources to resist global challenges and be entrenched in global memory.

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Tah, V. (2021) Globalization: A Threat to Third World Existence—A Study of Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy; Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross; and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Advances in Literary Study, 9, 173-188. doi: 10.4236/als.2021.94019.

1. Introduction

Globalization can be described as the expansion of global linkages, the organization of social life on a global scale and the growth of a global economy. Many critics have written much on the concept of globalization. Different opinions and arguments display that globalization has diverse definitions and definite uses in current debates. The vast literature on globalization could therefore be summarized under the different opinions about globalization which Les Rowntree et al. and Frank J. Lechner and John Boli uphold in their different texts. The different schools of thoughts about globalization could be grouped under, pro-globalization; opponents of globalization; and the middle school of thought. The pro-globalization advocates argue that globalization is a logical and inevitable expression of contemporary international capitalism that will benefit all peoples and nations by increasing global commerce and wealth. Their argument is backed by the notion that by making access to capital more readily available throughout the world, globalization should eventually result in a certain global economic convergence, thus indicating that the world’s poorer countries will catch up with the more advanced economies.

Opponents of globalization on their part think that globalization promotes free-markets and export-oriented economies at the expense of localized, sustainable activities. They also dispute the empirical evidence on national development offered by critics who take the pro-globalization stance. They show highly successful developing countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia have indeed been engaged with the world market, but they have generally done so on their own terms, rather than those prescribed by the IMF and other advocates of full-fledged economic globalization. They further argue that, the free-market model commonly promoted for developing countries is not even the model used in Western industrial countries for economic development. The middle school of thought which stand between pro-globalization proponents and challengers of globalization argues that economic globalization is unavoidable. They point out that even the anti-globalization movement is made possible by the globalizing power to the internet; therefore, it is itself an expression of globalization. They further declare that while globalization holds both promises and pitfall, it can be managed at both the national and international levels to reduce economic inequalities and protect the national environment. They therefore vehemently argue that there is the need for strong and efficient governments; strengthened international institutions that are sustainably reformulated; and globalized networks of environmental, labor, and human rights groups. Rowntree et al. advance Dani Rodrik, an influential middle-ground globalization scholar’s argument that openness to global economy can indeed be highly beneficial, but that this openness must first be triggered by a country, for it to work. And they can do this by investing in education and also maintaining social cohesion. He concludes with a double opinion by saying that the world market is a source of disruption and upheaval as much as it is an opportunity for profit and economic growth.

Though globalization optimists imagine a universal global culture uniting all humankind into a single community untroubled by wars, ethnic strives, or resource shortages, this could be seen as a global utopia, considering the diverse groups of cultures with different interests that exist in the globe. Arguments in this paper reveal that while diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, it may also be the most dangerous thing to live without; because, nationality, ethnicity, cultural distinctiveness, are all the legitimate legacy of humanity. If this diversity is blurred, denied, or repressed through global homogenization, then humanity loses one of its desirable defining traits and faces the risk of extinction in global history. Mary Kaldor in Global Civil Society: An Answer to War says “globalization refers to the spread of global capitalism as well as to an array of policies (liberalization, deregulation and privatization) which facilitate this spread” (Kaldor, 2003). Ayo Kehinde share a similar opinion with Kaldor as he too posits that global North and South relationship is characterized by inequality, which is entrenched in capitalism. This unequal relationship of power is reflected in the socio-cultural and economic lives between North and South. This paper adapts a workable definition for globalization as a route through which imperial powers subtly exercise domination over cultures, economy, and state apparatuses to uphold their interests. Eleonore Kofman and Gillian Youngs write in Globalization Theory and Practice that: “Globalization has affected the management of international migration in the same way that it affected the expansion of financial capital, namely through the regulation and re-regulation of spaces of circulation” (Dalby, 2003). The process of globalization has effects not only on movement of people and financial capital, but also on the environment, on culture and on the political system. Postcolonial theory which addresses issues of domination and also encourages the pluralism of cultures is as a result important in this study because of its significant impacts in the field of globalization. The study uses Kincaid’s Lucy, wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross, and Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to underline that historical events in a global society are governed by socio-cultural and economic imperialism. The paper is structured thus: Cultural imperialism; social correlations; economic capitalism; and change, a growth mechanism. These underline how globalization pushes imperialism and also emphasize the importance of change to ensure the growth of third world nations.

2. Cultural Imperialism

Post colonial discourse is concerned with matters of suppression and representation among other issues as Bill Ashcroft et al. and John Macleod among other post colonial critics have underscored. It gives an ample insight into the problems central to globalized societies. Though globalization advocates the expansion of global trade and investments, it advances cultural imperialism, thus described as “westernalization” by Frank J. Lechner et al. because of its repressive nature which is detrimental to most societies. This section points up the impacts of globalization on developing nations in the cultural domains, especially as expressed in education and language.

Though globalization has advantages on education as it promotes online learning, it serves as a threat to developing nations whose history and cultural identity are threatened by the curriculum prescribed. Kincaid in her novel, Lucy, emphasizes how the Antiguans suffer identity crises and trauma through the education imparted on them. Lucy’s alien education jeopardises her identity and places her in a state of trauma. Though she is applauded for her dexterity in the mastery of the subject she is being taught in school, she experiences alienation which results to crisis, as she is taught a foreign history and culture. Irrespective of the fact that she tries to disassociate herself from such foreign culture and history, she suffers from trauma, which is manifested in her dream in which she sees herself being chased by daffodils which succeeded to bury her. Her experience is a symbol to express how weaker nations face the risk of being erased from the history and culture of a global society. Though Lucy is not a migrant, she experiences cultural suppression in her own locality through her education. Wa Thiong’o in Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance speaks out that:

…it was the way our teacher taught the South Africa story, from the perspective of the black experience, that brought it home to us, and the names of Shaka, Moshoeshoe, and Cetewayo became part of our collective memory. When the Mau Mau war for Kenya’s independence started in 1952, the colonial administration reacted by closing down these schools or taking them over, so as to turn the story of South Africa into that Vasco da Gama, Kruger and the Great Trek, and of course General Smuts (Wa Thiong’o, 2009).

Wa Thiong’o in the above quotation emphasizes the importance of a learning curriculum to reflect the history and culture of a people. This is because it creates awareness and familiarizes a people to their history and culture. Cultural imperialism prevails in a global context as reflected through Lucy who is taught another’s culture, and is represented through an alien lens. Her inadequacy to pronounce words in another’s accent signals her alienation as she becomes an outsider in both cultures. Most school curriculums do not reflect local realities in most developing nations. This subtle separation of indigenes from their local realities is not accidental but it is a systematic calculation to extinct a people from world history. Globalization therefore promotes cultural imperialism as seen in Lucy’s transformation which leaves her rootless in a modern society. Her attempt to disassociate herself from the foreign culture with which she comes to contact creates a psychological battle field that results in trauma. Her experiences with daffodils, contrast with that of Mariah. While she sees it as an oppressive tool that suppresses her own cultural values, Mariah on her part sees it as an emblem of peace and beauty. Mariah feels so good at the presence of daffodils which to her is a kind of rejuvenation, a source of life. She says:

Have you ever seen daffodils pushing their ways up out of the ground? And when they’re in bloom and all massed together, a breeze comes along and makes them to curtsy to the lawn stretching out in front of them. Have you ever seen that? When I see that, I feel so glad to be alive (Kincaid, 1991).

Daffodils become a representation of superior cultures. They push their way up out of the ground metaphorically signifying that superior cultures will supersede in a global society. Philip G. Altbach maintains a pessimistic view which to an extent is realistic as he thinks that neocolonialism is a continuous process and cannot be wiped out especially as education is concerned (Albach et al., 1995). Lucy’s exhaustion which is a consequence of her contact with alien educational values, contrasts with Mariah’s ecstasy driven by her contact with the same culture to which she is familiar. The contradictory emotions of both Lucy and Mariah stimulated by a sole culture, evoke binaries as the superiority of one culture is reinforced; and also symbolize the gap between advanced and developing nation in a global mélange.

Cultural imperialism is also indisputably manifested through language. Language is a cultural aspect among others, which defines the essence of a people. One very essential aspect of neocolonialism suffered by most developing nations is their incessant use of European languages which are marks of colonial inheritance. From the time of colonialism till present day, European languages are used as communication media in most third world nations. The continuous usage of such languages by indigenes even out of school milieu has devastating aftermaths as indigenes become strangers to their native languages. Wa Thiong’o in Devil on the Cross, presents a lamentable situation where the English language has drastic interference with the indigenous language, severely affecting indigenes.

Kihaahu wa Gatheeca, whose rootless state is reinforced by his foreign name, Lord Gabriel Bloodwell-Stuart-Jones, is proud to announce that his children have a firm mastering of the English language. He is even happy to make it known that his children cannot adequately express themselves in their indigenous languages, Gikuyu and Kiswahili. He says, “I don’t mind that they speak their national languages like Italian foreigners” (Wa Thiong’o, 1985). Gatheeca, consumption habits portrays him as a mimicked individual in his own locality. Kehinde advances the view that minority languages are threatened by globalization. Globalization is consequently characterized by marginalization in all perceptions. Gatheeca’s family, even in their own locality has lost their cultural authenticity in both expression and identification. Their cultural values are under extermination as it is evident that the next generation will have no clue of their cultural elements. Their fate in the globe shall be marginalization as their roots shall be difficult to trace if nothing is urgently done to revamp their cultural values.

Gatheeca’s renaming as “Lord Gabriel…” recreates a new image of him. This is a strategy the colonizer uses to implant his memory on the colonized. As such, they are subjugated and dismembered as legitimate part in the global world. There is therefore the need for an urgent cultural restoration especially in the domain of education and language because language refers to the study of signs, sign systems, and the manner in which meaning is derived as Rose Murfin and Supryia M. Ray point out in The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms (Murfin & Ray, 1979). Franz Fanon elucidates in Black Mask, White Skin that, “To speak means to be in position to use certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it is above all support to assume a culture to bear the weight of the civilization (Fanon, 1967)”. Expression in a foreign language, presupposes the superiority of that language. Globalization thus strengthens binaries and puts weaker cultures at the risk of extinction as it has been underpinned in this section.

3. Social Correlations

Globalization facilitates movements from one place to the other. Mary kaldor argues that state boundaries no longer pose restrictions in global civil societies. Consequently, integration between foreigners in a global society cannot be avoided; yet it has not been as cordial as one would have expected. An objective of globalization is to promote economic progress and harmony among the people of the globe. Derogatory social attitudes challenge this objective as growth is impossible in a social aggressive environment. Postcolonial theory which backs arguments in this paper is concerned with migrants’ experiences and denounces the harm done by the privileged to the unprivileged. A major issue presented in Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses is the consequence of migration on people. McLeod demonstrates in Beginning Postcolonialism that migration challenges the notion of home which gives an individual a sense of belonging in the world. Rushdie’s characters, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamchawala migrate “…from a great height…towards the English Channel… (Rushdie, 1989)”. Their relocation to England is motivated by the desire for a better living. But the trip is described as a fall demonstrating their yearning for better home in a foreign environment is an illusion. Their movement rather displaces them from home and they experience no sense of belonging in a global world as reflected in their social encounters.

Their experiences with the people they meet buttress marginality and prejudice. Chamchawala’s relationship with his English wife indicates social clash. He suffers trauma inflicted by his wife’s aggressive attitude towards him. Her attitude towards him is characterized by antagonism and prejudice underlining no love, indicating that they cannot complement each other in their daily activities. Social factors as well as economic factors are important elements for growth and development in any society; so Chamchawala’s offensive relationship with his wife can only retard their growth. He further loses his essence of existence as his wife describes him a as “a shadow’, a ghost” (Rushdie, 1989), indicating that he has become nonexistence in the global process. His motive of migrating is challenged because “what had taken him over was the will to live, unadulterated, irresistible, pure, and the first thing it did was to inform him that it had nothing to do with pathetic personality, that half-reconstructed affair of mimicry and voices, it intended to bypass all that…” (Rushdie, 1989). Chamchawala migrates in search for a good life which is possible through the hybridization or globalization process, but his vision is disillusioned as he is considered in his new environment as a “pathetic personality”. His experience confirms Adamu Pangmeshi’s assertion that people experience disillusionment relocating from one place to other in search for a better life (Pangmeshi, 2018). His dreams are deferred as his wretchedness is reinforced by racism and alienation which result to trauma. Ngome Jemia Maureen affirms that, racial supremacy encourages relegation, segregation, and degradation (Maureen, 2020). Chamchawala and Gibreel are debased and isolated in their new environment which emphasizes their nothingness.

Globalization is a process of hybridization that encourages a global social relationship as it has been reiterated above. Wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross assembles people from different parts of the world. The society in which they meet is characterized by social and economic exploitation. M. L. Jhingan in The Economics of Development and Planning quotes Nurkse thus: “Economic development has much to do with human endowment, social attitudes, political conditions and historical incidents” (Jhingan, 2012). In Devil on the Cross, the leaders and elites of the society demonstrate pervasive social attitudes through class distinction, extravagance, and dependency. The high status group upholds social dignity through pervasive social attitudes that ruin their economy. They constantly organize extravagant feasts where they lavish the nation’s income and display their expertise in chasing women and buying numerous ostentatious cars. They connect with other people in the globe as illustrated in the passage below:

…First things first. This feast is not a Devil’s feast, and it has not been organized by Satan. This feast has been arranged by the organization for Modern Theft and Robbery in Ilmorog to commemorate a visit by foreign guests from an organization for the thieves and robbers of the Western world, particularly from America, England, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Japan, called the International organization for Thieves and Robbers (Wa Thiong’o, 1985).

It is evident from the above passage that Globalization is all about capitalism and exploitation. Foreign agents confirm that though they come from different countries with different skin color, tongues and religion, they share one objective, “theft” which signifies exploitation. They acknowledge that “We have come to you as to our friends, who are also the local watchdogs who guard our investments. So when we are here, we feel very much at home” (Wa Thiong’o, 1985). The foreigners call the indigenes their friends because they protect their investments and are not trade orientated, so, they are not potential competitors, thus cannot be threats to their economic advancement. The indigenes who are “watchdogs” of foreign investments remain sycophants to their masters and pose as obstacles to other indigenes who are conscious of the importance of investments to the growth of their economy. Their social attitude promotes a vicious circle of poverty as they do not practice any strict savings as other societies which value economic development do. Their indifference in savings and investments results to capital deficiency, low productivity, low income, and low demand. These keep them perpetually backward and vulnerable in a global scene. As this section has underscored, it is evident that in a global setting the unprivileged undergo social marginalization and their visibility in a global setting is under threat.

4. Economic Capitalism

Economic imperialism does not necessitate settlement in different places for it to work. It is a kind of indirect rule that operates imperceptibly. John McLeod opines that imperialism is “The extension and expansion of trade and commerce under the protection of political, legal and military control” (McLeod, 2000). The liberty of integration facilitated by globalization constantly promotes the subtle expansion and domination of nations. Simon Dalby in his article entitled, Globalization, Geography and Environmental Security states that “globalization implies that the demise of nation-state is either imminent or that states will be subsumed within some transnational regional arrangements driven by some economic integration” (Dalby, 2003). Wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross highlights that economic integration does not favor most Developing nations whose economies continue to experience a downturn, putting their identities at risk in a global context as they are often knocked out of global economic competition as demonstrated in this section.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross is all about neo-imperialism and exploitation. It uses the biblical allusion of the talents to show how neo-imperialism operates. The text highlights that at the dawn of independence, the colonialists had to depart from the territories they had occupied though they are not willing to relinquish power and authority. It is evident that they must physically leave their colonies, so they take measures to ensure their economic dominion. As a result, they put in place mechanisms to secure their interest. They devise control methods by insinuating that they are preparing leadership positions for the colonized, meanwhile their intention is to continuously marginalize them and to keep their economy handicap so that they continue relying on them for their wellbeing. Charles Ngiewih Teke underlines the subtle ways in which globalization through economic and technological power reinforces center/margin binaries as the powerful North dominates the South (Teke, 2016). In wa Thiong’o’s text used in this study, such dominance is evidence as the master who represents powerful nations calls his servants and distribute investments and capital for them to multiply and protect. The relationship that binds them is master/servant relationship characterized by exploitation, which is denounced and deconstructed by postcolonial critics. There is no genuine exchange of economic talents and values as the master is dissatisfied with the servant who does not use his talents to generate profits and expand his estates. He retrieves his capital from him and adds to that of his faithful and subservient servant who had made huge profits.

Globalization is clearly perceived as neo-imperialism because the master’s plan is to indirectly make investments that will give him total control of the economy as it is evidence in Devil on the Cross. Athanasius Ako Ayuk in his article, African Center, Western Margin: Heart of Darkness and Conrad’s Exorcist Narrative notes that, “…the twenty-first, century…more global in political and economic outlook, is still marred by frenzied arguments on problems of race, but, perhaps, more especially on the politics of Western incursions in autonomous political and economic entities…” (Ayuk, 2017). Today, the West as in the past still penetrates and dominates in the socio-political and economic affairs of the African continent as well as other developing nations. The distribution of capital for servants to use their talents to multiply, illustrates egoism and exploitation which aggravates crises especially as the Africans are blind to recognize these as Ayuk emphasizes. Such blindness is visible through the servants who use their talents diligently to increase the wealth of their master though they are as Marshall Clough writes in Mau Mau Memoirs: History, Memory, and Politics that, the “proverbial farmer…is denied a meal…It is not the farmer who eats the food he has grown” (Clough, 1998). The two servants above who are faithful to their master multiply the capital he hands to them. It is obvious that they can achieve such tremendous success only by being industrious, self-disciplined, thrifty, and by practicing strict savings. They are like the proverbial farmer quoted above, as they remain famished in order to better accumulate their master’s wealth. The servant who comes to self-realization and self-consciousness that the wealth of a nation can only be produced by workers of that nation, decides not to work for others but to use his sweat and talent to work for his personal growth, and for the growth of his nation. He becomes conscious of the significance of investment in the process of growth. David Horowitz in Hemispheres North and South: Economic Disparity among Nations underlines that:

…economic growth is, to a considerable degree, the function of investment, so that investment is the potential of growth, the protection for the future is of a widening differential in standards of living. Not only does the accepted notion of the developing world’s catching up with the progress of the developed world become totally without basis in fact, but this predicament can have other sinister implications (Horowitz, 1966).

Investment as Horowitz sensitizes is the key to economic growth. The master’s growth is secured by his investment of capital. He exploits the available cheap labor of his dependent and blind servants to maximize his profits. But the servant who refuses to multiply his master’s capital understands that investment to a large extend causes economic independence and growth. He decides to shun dependency and focus on personal investments like his Master. He embraces struggle as a means of liberation from mental slavery and to restore his economic power. Christopher Clapham in Africa and the International System: The Politics of State Survival writes that, “…globalization… included a rapid increase in the mobility of capital…and functional integration in the global economy” (Clapham, 1996). Since globalization includes the mobility of capital the servant returns his master’s capital, hoping to get a loan to make his own personal investments. Matthew J. Slaughter and Phillip Swagel’s opinion in their article Asante entitled, Does Globalization Lower Wages and export Jobs? that, “An important trend in labor market in advanced economies has been a steady shift in demand away from the less skilled towards the more skilled…” (Slaughter & Swagel, 2000). This assertion is reflected in the master’s decision to retrieve his capital from his unfaithful and disobedient servant whom he considers as unskilled and shift it to his more skilled servant who had worked hard to make big profits. This demonstrates the highly competitive nature of globalization from all perceptions. That notwithstanding the servant who is now left with no capital exhibits enlightenment as he is conscious and consistent in the decision he too takes. He deconstructs slave mentality and is determined to free himself from dependency which keeps him continuously entrapped. He understands the power of unity, so, strategizes to unite with local collaborators to refurbish their economy. Molefi Kete Asante in Afrocentricity writes: “Malcolm X challenged the historical arrogance and political assertion of racial supremacy in America” (Asante, 1996). In like manner, the above servant challenges exploitation. He understands like Malcolm that, “liberation could only come from a person’s active will… Malcolm’s appeal to us was to use “any means necessary” to rid ourselves of the baggage of slavery and self-doubt (Asante, 1996). He is therefore determined to use the means at his disposal to elevate himself and his nation in the global scene. He as a result seeks both collective consciousness and unity as channels to freedom and growth, keeping in mind that victory comes from aspiration, industriousness, and a genuine vision.

5. Change, a Growth Mechanism

Globalization has put at stake the identities of most third world nations whose cultures disappear in a global congregation. Cultural cohabitation in the midst of disparity has widened gaps and encouraged exploitation that generate conflicts. Post colonial thinkers stress the importance of resistance when faced with challenges. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak who occupies a vital space as far as postcolonial criticism is concerned reacts against the persistent tendency for the third world people to be represented as the “other” and is of the opinion that the relegated should fervently fight against capitalism. Edward W. Said in a like manner holds that, the idea of oppression and difference must be debunked. Though Post colonial critics worry about the marginal representation of third world citizens, what these people should understand is that the initiative to make progress in a global context must first come from the nationals themselves and not fixed from outside. Therefore for change to be effected, mindsets should be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary oriented. This section stresses the need for most developing nations to deconstruct habits that have a backward pull in the economic sphere and reconstruct positive attitudes that improve development. These are necessary if they must face the risk of being erased from the global scene and face the task of competing on an egalitarian platform.

So far this study has used Kincaid’s Lucy; wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross; and Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses to draw attention to the challenges faced by most third world nations in the globalization process. There is the need to reconstruct mindsets to achieve sustainable change that could meet the visions shaped by globalization. For change to be realized, certain pertinent questions are asked. Rushdie in The Satanic Verses questions who we are, thereby, evoking Aristotle’s philosophy of being. James F. Anderson in Introduction to the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas confirms that:

Aristotle employs the phrase “and those things belonging to being in virtue of its own nature,” not simply “those things which appertain to or exist in being,” in order to point out that it is not the office of science to consider those things that exist in its subject accidentally but only those that are present in it essentially (Anderson, 1990).

Aristotle in the above passage underscores that change is implanted in the good will of individuals and not derived from external agents. Rushdie in The Satanic Verses maintains that, “History asks us: what manner of cause are we? Are we uncompromising, absolute, strong, or will we show ourselves to be timeservers, who compromise, trim and yield (Rushdie, 1989)? This is a clarion call for consciousness, instructing not only the characters encountered in texts used in this study but a call for a people to redefine their being in a converging society.

The economy is the engine that drives a nation. Rowntree et al. posit that, “In terms of trade, Sub-Saharan Africa’s connection with the world is limited. The level of overall trade is low both within the region and outside it” (Rowntree et al., 2003). This implies that they are mostly consumers in the global scene as they mostly import foreign goods rather than export local products that could generate wealth. Their link to the global economy is not marked by an egalitarian exchange of goods but by their dependence on loans and financial aid. These aggravate poverty and leave them at the margin in the affairs of the globe. This calls for concern and also reaffirms the need for the construction of an autonomous economic pattern that includes them in a global capitalist economic system. Change is consequently required to build an economy and personality that resist global challenges. Wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross exposes the predicaments of most developing nations in a global scene, where foreigners monopolize the industrial sector and have absolute control of the economy. They occupy a centre space as they are owners of capital while developing nations as illustrated in the text are dependent and offer only their services to foreigners to be able to survive. Mwireri’s self realization makes him refuse to depend on foreign aid for subsistence. He is aware that foreign aid cannot completely eradicate poverty and create sustainable development. As a result he takes the task to be independent and decides to set up a factory for himself.

Mwirere’s vision to be independent through his investments is blemished by some aspects which propel economic backwardness such as lack of capital, immobility factors, and low labor efficiency among other issues. Since globalization increases capital flow, Mwireri “had to go to the foreign–owned banks to negotiate a loan… so that I could buy fodder for the workers and still left with enough to buy machine ….” (Wa Thiong’o, 1985). Kehinde notes that: “Africa is totally deprived of its sovereignty, strangled economically and culturally by globalization. This continent has been sacrificed upon the Alter of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Policies; sick from poverty, disease and corrupt leadership” (Kehinde, 2016). Though Kehinde’s opinion is not void as reflected through Mwireri whose strive to emerge is challenged; the ecomomic emergence of Mwrirere’s society is not his sole responsibility; but also that of the leaders who govern that society. Therefore they have the responsibility to put up socio-economic structures that boost change and progress. Mwirere’s aspiration as an entrepreneur is strangled because he takes a loan from foreign owned banks which generate soaring interests. He fails because of insufficient capital equipment, technological backwardness, and low income. Additionally his production cost is high. This makes it difficult for him to excel in business and to resist global market competition. Clapham emphasizes the importance of capital in trade but capital is not enough for progress as Jhingan argues. Therefore, for Mwirere and other community members to succeed in trade, capital as well other as other economic and social factors are important.

Many factors challenge Mwirere’s industrialization initiative. His success is limited because of his dependence on his competitors’ technology to increase his skills and turn-out in business. They limit his success by inflating the prices of machines he request, delay supply, and feign scarcity when he is in need of spare parts. His competitors make certain that they overflow the market with similar goods, bringing down prices such that Mwireri can hardly meet with his production cost. Cornelia Navari avers in Internationalism and the State in the Twentieth Century that:

Industrialization through import substitution generally met with only limited success. The economies of many developing countries suffered from inefficiency, as well as high prices. Some of their products cost more to produce than to sell, often because the imports required to produce them cost more than the export price of the finished goods. The highest priority was given to the construction of new factories and the purchase of new machinery. But the practice often left little money for sufficient raw material… (Navari, 2000).

Navari in the above citation captures some of those factors that cause economic downturn in most developing countries as reflected in Mwirere’s business experiences. That notwithstanding, economic growth is impossible if social institutions, moral values, and political circumstances do not promote development. Other local agents who are leaders in their society exhibit ignorance and administrative incompetence as they ally with foreigners to wreck Mwirere’s local economic initiative as illustrated in the text. They also display amoral attitudes that impede national progress. Their extravagant and extraordinary social attitudes reflected in their consumption habits and on their dependency on foreign ideologies and material resources keep the entire nation susceptible. They need to deconstruct such attitudes if they must face competition on an egalitarian platform in a global society. Jean-Emmanuel Pondi in Life and Death of Muammar Al-Qadhafi: What Lessons for Africa? Questions thus:

…who in the so-called international community, really has a genuine interest to support the idea of an Africa gradually moving towards economic and financial independence and autonomy? If Africa gains financial and economic independence, what would become of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Pondi, 2013)?

The above quote displays that the challenges Mwireri faces in a market economy that encourages a free play of market forces is an approach to keep him vulnerable and dependent. His case epitomizes the quandaries of third world nations who must remain economically and financially weak so as to depend on loans from global financial institutions to push their economy. The leaders in Mwirere’s community must evolve in mindsets and integrate with industrious citizens to transform their societies to make growth possible. They need to abandon their extravagant consumption habits and practice strict savings in order to be able to invest and make better their economy so as to be remembered in world affairs. Wa Thiong’o states that:

The African eagle can fly only with his re-membered wings. Re-membering Africa will bring about the flowering of the African renaissance; and Afro modernity will play its role in the globe on the reciprocal egalitarian basis of give and take, ultimately realizing the Garveysian vision of common humanity of progress and achievement “that will wipe away the odor of prejudice, and elevate the human race to the height of real godly love and satisfaction (Wa Thiong’o, 2009).”

Wa Thiong’o provokes the Africans as well as other third world nations to re-establish their greatness and take part in the affairs of the globe. They are to recreate their images to experience a rebirth that can create a positive impact in their dealings with the world. Africans as Mwirere exemplifies, need to unite their efforts and evolve in order to reconstruct an African modernity that will empower them to deconstruct dependency and promote an egalitarian reciprocal role of give and take in global affairs. It is only through renaissance that most third world nations will be able to wash away the stink of prejudice to enjoy the numerous benefits of Globalization. Mwireri as a result, recommends the following:

“So today I say this. Let us unite, big and small to develop our own machine tools, because the sweat and the blood of our own people is in cheap and endless supply.” “Don’t be deceived by anybody into thinking that we have no iron ore. There is no natural resource that is not available in this country, oil included. But even if we had no large supply of iron ore, we could still develop what in English has been called maintenance technology, yaani, the knowledge of turning used iron ore into usable smelted iron. What do you think has permitted Japan to survive as an industrial power (Wa Thiong’o 1985)?”

Mwireri evokes some growth factors like human resources, natural resources, capital, technology, and enterprise which are needed to stimulate economic growth. He persuades and sensitizes his community members to abandon destructive social habits and unite their effort as a collective body to reconstruct their society. Therefore, challenges as experienced by characters in this study must be challenged to ensure growth and harmony. Chamchawala who experiences social relegation from his wife, must empower himself to gain her attraction, rather than search for a better life on another’s terrain. Lucy’s curriculum must also be modified to meet with local needs and challenges. And the elites in wa Thiong’o’s text must also grow in mindset. Instead of giving their children purely academic education which alienates them in the global society, they should impart in them professional and technical education that can empower them to reverse the vicious economic circle of poverty that keeps them backward in global affair. Pondi writes thus, “Blessed be the day that most senior African leaders would finally agree to usher their continent, our continent, into the concert of nations, as a continent whose intergovernmental organization, The AU—is cleansed of financial dependence” (Pondi, 2013). Unity and autonomy are ways forward to promote sustainable growth that could result in integration on equal basis.

6. Conclusion

This paper entitled, Globalization; a Threat to Third World Existence: A Study of Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy; Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross; and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses has established through its findings that globalization threatens the existence of most third world societies who need socio-cultural and economic restructuring to resist such threats. General discussions underlined that globalization increases imperialism, especially as there was no egalitarian and reciprocal relationship between advanced nations and third world nations as texts informed. Instead, most third world nations faced the risk of extinction as illustrated in the relationships between weaker and stronger characters in texts underpinning this study. With the weak constantly marginalized from all perceptions, the conclusion drawn is that, for weaker characters, as well as third world nations to enjoy the benefits of globalizations, there is a need to develop consciousness; deconstruct dependency; and unite efforts, skills, and resources to be able to resist global challenges and be entrenched in global memory.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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