Saturday, March 26

Democratic Republic of Congo:Blood Minerals, the Reality Show

I got this link in the mail, and I felt a little guilty as I've been skirting around the news of the outbreak of violence in the DRCongo, somewhat reluctant to write about it because the thought of writing about the DRCongo deflates me and depresses me and makes me wonder how so much can go wrong for so long in a country with such potential.

The New York Times is running a series titled Buried Treasure, Broken Nation which rehashes an old theme in a new and necessary way. Waiting to be uncovered in the first article in the series are these sombre assessments which ring depressingly true:

This is Africa’s resource curse: The wealth is unearthed by the poor, controlled by the strong, then sold to a world largely oblivious of its origins.

The bloodshed and terror have always been driven in part by the endless global thirst for Congo’s resources...
At the Tandaa Content Conference, Ian Fernandes suggested that if Africans were more proactive about telling their own story, we'd be talking about projects like the Inga Dam Project, a plan to build the world's largest and most powerful dam yet, projected to begin in 2014, rather than rehashing the same old story about conflict in the DRC.

I understand where he was coming from with that, and, on a normal day, I would heartily agree. But right now, all I can think is, we'd like to, we really would, but how can we when the likes of Laurent Nkunda are all up in our faces, rubbing our noses in all that can go so horribly wrong in Africa and, unfortunately, so often does?

Do not get me wrong: I do not believe that the people in Africa are any worse than the people elsewhere in the world. I think every country and every place on earth has its share of potential Laurent Nkundas. It's just that some other parts of the world seem to have been more successful in creating the kind of systems, structures, institutions and controls that tend to limit the unfettered expression of the basest form of humanity that almost inevitably leads to atrocities committed against fellow human beings than we have.

I wonder why? Where were we when this lesson was being taught in class? Why is it that we keep failing the exam?

Sigh. I knew if I got into this I'd sink into the doldrums. Oh well. Go on over and listen to what Shashank Bengali has to say. If you will.

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