By Clif Kodero
According to most African economists, the main cause of poverty in the global south is the disruption of the economic systems of these states with the introduction of free market by the colonialists from Europe.
In addition, developing world scholars emphasize the role of capitalism and globalization as causes of increasing income inequality. The overall argument is that even though slavery and colonialism are over, the system of slavery is still as alive as before. The effect is that as the wealth increases in the developed world, the developing world gets poorer.
Kenya is an example of how the system set up during colonial times has not helped steer the country out of poverty and underdevelopment. Even though the British left Kenya in 1964, the structure that they had set stayed. These structures supported a system that was based on acquisition of profit, technological advancements, individual empowerment, and respect for personal property.
In many ways, this system was day and night to African culture. Instead of profit, Africans traded to meet the immediate needs, Africans had no private property, property was communal, there was nothing like individual empowerment, the individual was a part of the society. The Maasai community perhaps exemplifies the nature of African economic system. The Masaaiâ€™s collective responsibility for the land has been interfered with by the new system of private ownership. The Maasai have thus surrendered to poverty and underdevelopment.
It is apparent that globalization has become a threat to the poor rather than an opportunity for global action to eradicate poverty. The concept of absolute freedom that underlies the rationale for globalization is the same notion used to justify slavery and colonization.
It is anchored on the belief that the strong, however, defined, should be free to exercise their strength without moral or legal limitations that protect the weak. The result of globalization is essentially antagonism between the developed world, and the developing world where a large majority of the populace live in misery.
In my view, it is another form of mental slavery where a sort of cultural imperialism seeks to enslave the mind of the poor, leaving in it a cultureless, or culturally disoriented people. Eventually, the colonized mind has nothing to offer but to depend on the colonial master as the only thinking man. How would the Maasai survive? Will the Maasai survive the cultural erosion as well as have a sustainable culture?
With the opening up of the global market, most of the African farmers lost their local markets because the consumers decided to go for the cheap clothes imported from abroad- mainly USA and Europe. The resulting effect was a great loss of jobs for millions of people who were employed in the cotton industry. Within no time, millions of people were hit by massive and aggressive poverty.
Schools were closed and the governments lost millions of revenues in the formerly lucrative cotton industry. Within a decade, a tone of industries was closed. Most governments lost tonnes of revenues, unemployment skyrocketed and corruption thrived. Economic liberation and World Bank/ IMF strategies had failed the poor nations. Most of the countries ended being indebted instead of being free from debt, structural adjustment policies became a white elephant.