The reality of fear

Gideon J. Wabvuta

Gideon Jeph Wabvuta was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, the oldest son of an electronics technician and a former teacher. He grew up in Mbare, a ghetto in Harare, where his love for the arts was born. He grew up with dance and theater around him, but only participated briefly as a writer when he was 16. A few years later he returned to the arts as a performer and writer at a community theater group in Mbare. This strengthened his love for the arts, and led to him enroll at the University of Zimbabwe where he received arts training as an actor and writer. During his time in University, he worked with a Zimbabwean-American organization Almasi Arts as an actor, writer, and director. This resulted in him being invited to the Ojai Playwrights Conference where he wrote and performed his solo show Mbare Dreams. Soon after graduation, he joined Savanna Trust, where he was part of a troop of actors that went around the country performing on issues that include, human rights, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and domestic violence. He is currently living in the US where he is receiving his MFA in Dramatic Writing at the University of Southern California.

doi: 10.18278/aia.2.2.43

Global village is a term that gained pre-eminence around 20 years ago, becoming the descriptor for the phenomenon of globalization. Some argue that globalization is a historically recent development while others may contend that it is as old as time. Yet while the desire to expand, interact and integrate has always been part of human nature, the shine of globalization has started to wane over the past few years. What accounts for that trend?

Interaction and integration are phenomena that create cultural hybrids. Cultures do remain distinct, but carry elements of the other. This is from where the problem of globalization originates: the idea that a group’s unique cultural identity is threatened, or ‘polluted’, by foreign influences. It is important to understand that most people primarily identify with a salient aspect of their culture: Christian, Muslim, black, gay, etc. If we understand groups of people who share these identities as analogous to animal packs, it is easier to understand the visceral reactions that occur when groups feel threatened.

For example, a religious person may condone violence on homosexuals because their presence makes him fears the eradication of his own group’s values and existence. Similar conclusions can be drawn in global interactions between white police and black people. The white police fears are illogical and morality is absent in actions taken against these and other minorities. But fear is not dependent on either logic or morality.

In the wake of globalization, fear of difference has spread like a fire. New is interpreted as dangerous. While some may blame this trend on nationalist rhetoric, it should be pointed out that nationalist rhetoric makes a lot of sense when it explains how the economically disadvantaged have suffered from globalization. Jobs and opportunities have been shipped overseas. The argument comes full circle when the impoverished person views the outsider who has taken his job as a threat to his very existence.

However, it is important to remember that cultures continuously evolve and that no one culture or ideology can remain in its purest form indefinitely. Therefore, the global village will only work when the people at the bottom benefit from it. The need to expand one’s horizons comes from having exhausted what is already familiar. But the people at the bottom have barely scrapped what is around them, so why would they want to look outward?