Globalization is a phenomenon that every person in the world is privy to, regardless of where he or she lives. Globalization per se refers to the integration and interaction of the people, businesses, cultures, legal institutions, and governments across the world (Boudreaux, 2008). East Africa is one of the places in the world that experiences the highest impact of globalization. For example, the activities that happen at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) affect the people of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi, and Rwanda in a much bigger way. The integration of the East African communities and countries has grown in the recent years. The region’s inhabitants also have close ties with other citizens of the world. Indeed, the people of the East African region interact with people from all continents through the social media, trade, diplomatic relationships, travels, and other means.
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The issue of climate change has highlighted and promoted globalization in East Africa. The death of Ekaru Loruman is a significant event because it highlights the connectedness that the people of Turkana region have with the rest of the world. Ekaru Loruman died because of the interaction of various forces, namely, poverty, climate change, and violence (Parenti, 2012). The West’s desire to expand and influence the economic activities of other areas of the world has contributed to the proliferation of small arms in Turkana and other regions of the developing countries. Ekaru Loruman was killed by guns that came to his area because of the activities that happened in East Africa as a result of the colonial legacy. In other words, Ekaru Loruman died because of the influence that the British brought to Uganda and the larger East Africa. The colonization of the East African region by Britain and Germany led to the creation of the current East African states. The East African communities such as the Karamoja, Pokot and Turkana had inherent traditional hostilities among themselves. The hostilities were products of cattle rustling that stretched back to 1920s. However, the creation of nation states encouraged the proliferation of foreign military hardware to the region. With the effect of climate change becoming worse by the day compared to the previous century, cross-border cattle rustling and other conflicts shall prevail.
The region’s political instabilities such the ouster of Idi Amin Dada in 1979 have also enhanced the globalization of the East African region. The overthrow of Idi Amin affected the Turkana and other East African communities in one way or the other, thereby boosting the interaction of the area with the rest of the world (Roberts, 2015). This political change also presented the Karamoja (Karamojong) with the opportunity to acquire guns for the first time (Marchal, 2009). The Karamoja obtained the weapons from military barracks in their area. Other weapons came from the fleeing soldiers following the fall of Idi Amin’s regime. Traditionally, the Karamoja have used spears and arrow to raid their neighbors for cattle. However, the guns changed the dynamics of stealing cattle in the East African region because the cattle rustling communities had superior weapons that the British introduced to the area. The guns have resulted in the death of many people in the area. For example, the Oromo community used this weapon to fight the Ethiopian government. Bandits and cattle rustlers also used the arms in raids and other crimes. Militant groups such as the Lords Resistant Army (LRA) that emanated from northern Uganda attracted the attention of the international community because of the atrocities that it had committed. As such, the US government sent some of its troops to the region to trace the LRA fugitives who had been hiding in jungle. Therefore, the overthrow of Idi Amin Dada (of Uganda) in 1979 has promoted globalization in the East African area.
The issue of immigration and emigration has also boosted the scale of globalization in East Africa. The conflict in Somalia was the result of the decline of the state system under the former president, Mohamed Siad Barre, in 1991. Consequently, many Somalis left the country and settled in foreign states such as the United States and Canada as immigrants (DeShaw, 2006). Other citizens of Somalia fled to the neighboring nations such as Kenya where they are staying as immigrant or refugees. The Dadaab refugee camp in the Northern Kenya is a place where many Somalia nationals have called home since the early 1990s. However, the recent return of peace in some parts of Somalia has seen the arrival of Somali citizens who are staying in many regions of the world. Many Somalis are enjoying dual citizenship which gives them an opportunity to shuffle between their resident countries and Somalia whenever an occasion presents itself. Many of the Somalis living outside their country send remittances to their families back home. Therefore, Somalis are the part of the globalization phenomena.
The globalization of the East African region has also grown because of the rise of terror networks in the area. The collapse of Somalia government in 1991 created room for the emergence of terror groups (Hammond, 2013). The Al Shabaab is the main terror group based in Somalia. Many of Al Shabaab’s group members are Muslims converts from all over the world (Marchal, 2009). However, the majority of Al Shabaab’s foot soldiers are from the East African region. The terrorists can sneak in and out of their countries to wage war in Somalia and the neighboring countries whenever they are called to act. As such, Somalia’s Al Shabaab promotes terrorism by exploiting a globalized network of terror groups and terror cells. East African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi have sent their troops to the country to contain Al Shabaab (Stern & Berger, 2015). Globally, the globalization of terror networks has made the East African region a target. For instance, recent reports indicate that the Al Shabaab terror group has split into two functions with one faction supporting Islamic State (IS), whereas the other is supporting Al Qaeda (Marchal, 2009). The August 5th, 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar e Salaam was a clear evidence of the globalization of terror networks because Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack. The attack inspired the formation of the Al Shabaab terror network that has caused mayhem in the region by bombing several places in Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda. Al-Shabaab has been an affiliate group to Al Qaeda for some years now. For this reason, Somalia, as a failed state, has enhanced globalization of the East Africa because the resultant terrorism has attracted many Muslim fighters/terrorists from all over the region to come to the area. The United States has also joined the war on terror and resorted to the use of drone strikes to kill the terrorists. Therefore, the East African region is globalized to a larger extent.
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Foreign influence has also contributed to the rapid globalization of East Africa. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank sway the fiscal policies of East African nations because of the financial difficulties that the region experiences. The structural adjustment policy of the late 20th century played a significant role in undermining the economic growth among East African countries (Jerven, 2013). Notable among the effects of the structural adjustment policy were rampant retrenchment and the resultant unemployment. The IMF and the World Bank compelled governments to balance their expenditures with revenue. However, the policy led to mass job layoffs and an overall negative economic growth. A trade relation between the region and the rest of the world is also the part of East Africa’s experience just like in the whole world (“Free Exchange,” 2013; Rivoli, 2009). In addition, China is the biggest trading partner for the East African nations. Therefore, East African countries experience a globalized financial system, and the economy growth has been negative.
In summary, globalization is unstoppable in East Africa and the rest of the world. The region has experienced its fair share globalization in the recent years. Conflicts over economic resources and means of livelihoods have undermined the security of the area while attracting attention from the rest of the globe. For example, the collapse of some of East African governments has led to the proliferation of foreign-manufactured arms in many areas of the region. Terrorism is also an issue that has boosted globalization in East Africa because of the connectedness of terror groups and the global antiterrorism efforts of many countries. Terror groups, such as Al Shabaab, use religion (Islam) to recruit local and foreign nationals to fight for their cause. Immigration has also led to close interaction between the region and the rest of the world as many East Africans migrate to other countries to avoid persecution and civil unrests in countries such as South Sudan and Somalia.