Suffering in the Congo: the High Price of Technology

congo-2In all likelihood, the Smartphone that many Westerners carry around all day, checking messages, taking ‘selfies’ and downloading apps, was manufactured with minerals extracted from a nation decimated by genocide and imperialistic plunder.  Much of the cobalt and tantalum used in the electronics industry is harvested from central Africa, and mainly from one former Belgian colony.

Beginning with the murderous, genocidal King Leopold II of Belgium, who was responsible for the murder of nearly 10 million people in the 19th century, and leading up to the US corporate raiders of this century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been continually robbed of its rich human and natural resources.  In 1961 the Belgian capitalist elite and the CIA backed the assassination of democratically elected president Patrice Lumumba.  This set in motion the turmoil and suffering the people of the Congo now live with today.  Lumumba, like countless other leaders around the world, was disposed of by the Western hegemony because of his gall to defend his own people against foreign robber barons.  Ignored by a subservient United Nations, the new junta government murdered Lumumba by firing squad.

The US and Belgium, along with most of the West, then installed the murderous dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko.  Despite his looting the country of billions of dollars and committing brutal and heinous human rights violations, Seko, enjoyed a close friendship with several US presidents and was honored at the White House by Ronald Reagan several times.  Following his exile, the DRC was plunged into mayhem for over a decade.  And it is estimated that 6 to 10 million Congolese have been killed in what can only be termed as genocide.

Slavery, land grabs and violence have decimated this beautiful land with seemingly no end in sight.  The systematic rape, mutilation and torture of women and children has been used to demoralize and dehumanize millions of Congolese, while the mainstream media generally ignores their plight and world leaders mostly look on with apathy.  And today this travesty continues chiefly by the support of US foreign policy which lends aid to its rival nations, Rwanda and Uganda, as its presidents, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Musuveni, strip it clean of its natural resources for Western corporate interests.

It is in this way more than any other that Western colonialism never ended in Africa.  It continues through the vehicle of free trade and globalization, which mask the ugliest facets of neoliberalist policies.  And it continues through the blind exploitation of resources for the sake of Western technology and insatiable consumerism.  The Congolese have no agency while such powers are permitted to plunder for profit.  And the carnage will only grow beyond what is arguably the biggest genocide the world has seen since World War II.

Kenn Orphan  2014

(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)

*For more information on this issue I highly suggest reading the fine journalistic work of Andre Vltchek.

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