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Introduction: Globalization and Transnational Migrations: An Overview

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Africans now live in a world that is significantly different from anything they had previously experienced since the end of World War II. It is a world shaped by contemporary globalization. The uniqueness of our global interconnectedness (Sachs, 2005, p. 213) and the vast new power of modern technology have seemingly set in motion a global partnership designed to work together for change. The global process has intensified in recent times not only by changing the very nature of our world but also by creating cultural and social processes that transcend boundaries (Appadurai 1991, p. 192; 1996). The framework for understanding the crucial and difficult issues arising from this phenomenon is to show how the recipients of globalization have plugged into different aspects of this experience but in accordance with their differentiated and respective capabilities as an imperative of global realities. This calls for serious consideration and interrogation. The interpretation of globalization as an engine of growth and development has thrown up a serious debate between the supporters (global-enthusiasts) and antagonists (globalskeptics) of the phenomenon. But the debate in several respects has not sufficiently revealed in practice and in reality the several ambiguities embedded in this “engine of growth and development” analysis. So while the ideas and practices of globalization that have shaped and engaged the world's economy, social geography and human interactions have received copious attention, they have not been well shown in the case of Africa either as a multiplicity of sites and effects, competing impulses, or as personal or group experiences.

The challenges of globalization are unique, enormous, and varied. The world has come to recognize interdependence and interconnectedness as the most significant features of the age of globalization. However, Olukoshi (2004) has posited that the processes that created globalization are such that its benefits can hardly be equal and just for all groups or classes of individuals, whether within or across states, regions, and even the world as a whole. So, how much has the world been alive to the lived experience of Africans in the age of globalization? How well have Africans themselves responded to the windows of opportunity created by globalization? How should Africans as a significant part of humanity “brush off opposition and make faster headway toward the goal of a single world economy, free of all barriers to trade or investment between different states?” (Singer, 2002, p. 54). In other words, do we all as members of the human race share the same commitments to survival, an end to extreme poverty, and the elevation of human dignity? As a corollary to the foregoing, the question also arises as to how much room for manoeuvre is available to the African at home and in the Diaspora to cope with the changes or take advantage of globalization and the forces it unleashed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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