The Scientific Indian

The history of Congo (and Africa, in general) is one of unbroken plundering by the outside world. And, history repeats more keenly in African than anywhere else.

More than 5 million people have been murdered, women and children have been raped, families destroyed and unspeakable atrocities have been committed in Congo in the past decade – the consequence of the world’s insatiable demand for raw materials. Johann Hari writes in The Independant:

the debate about Congo in the West – when it exists at all – focuses on our inability to provide a decent bandage, without mentioning that we are causing the wound. It’s true the 17,000 UN forces in the country are abysmally failing to protect the civilian population, and urgently need to be super-charged. But it is even more important to stop fuelling the war in the first place by buying blood-soaked natural resources. Nkunda only has enough guns and grenades to take on the Congolese army and the UN because we buy his loot. We need to prosecute the corporations buying them for abetting crimes against humanity, and introduce a global coltan-tax to pay for a substantial peacekeeping force. To get there, we need to build an international system that values the lives of black people more than it values profit.

The world’s attention is pinned to the million unnecessary things we want to sell to each other. The whole world is a market, you and I are buyers and sellers. Profit is king. Even the great comrade says to get rich is glorious – and our chinese friends have taken it to their hearts, they lead the way in Congo and Africa. And, this is not all. Vying for our attention are the stupefyingly inane proclamations of imams, priests and rabbis. An ancient tribe’s covenant with an imaginary god is more pressing than 5 million or 500 million lives – black, brown or white. Our perceptions are fundamentally skewed. All our technological marvels only increase the imbalance.

Johann, Johann! How naive you are! Where have we got the time to ponder an international system that values the lives of black people more than it values profit…


  1. #1 Larry Ayers
    January 16, 2009

    King Leopold’s Ghost—A story of greed, terror and heroism in colonial Africa, by Adam Hochschild, is a wonderful but depressing account of Belgium and the Congo. Someone should write a history of the post-Belgium Congo.

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