Africa’s Severed Veins
I suggest considering those who have sanctified the memorandum on Libya with dreams of “turning Turkey into an Afro-Eurasian country” with the “severed veins of Africa”
Photograph: Fırat Turgut/Evrensel
The title of this article is inspired by Hugo Chavez. When Obama visited Venezuella, Chavez had presented him with a book in front of the cameras. The name of the book was the “Severed Veins of Latin America.” Authored by Eduardo Galeano, the book was about Latin America whose riches had been looted for centuries.
Enzo Ikah, who has been living in Turkey as a migrant for the last 12 years called me, we met and he told me about the history of Congo extending from slavery to new colonialism. To be sure, this was a history other than the official one. What I listened to was the colonialization of Congo and the labour, blood and riches oozing from the severed veins of Africa.
Firstly, some brief historical information:
Belgium’s second king, Leopold was also the emperor of Congo until 1908. During his period, the population of Congo decreased by 20 million. Horrendous torture and massacres and transfer of slaves to America and Europe were undertaken. Geophysics conference taking place in 1876 in Brussels was a strategic step for colonialization. A science delegation was remitted to the are in order “take civilisation to the Congo basis.” It was led by Henry M. Stanley. Thus the way was paved for the trade of rubber and ivory.
Let’s listen to what came afterwards from Enzo himself:
“At the period of kingdom, 18 million children were taken away from Africa as slaves. 40 percent of these were Congolese. Congo is one of the places where most of bloodshed in human history took place. The world knows about the genocide of Jews; Nazis exterminated 6 million people. But in Congo, the number of people killed was many times over and this is not known. If there is a terror attack in France, all will focus on there but millions in the Congo die and no one sees it.”
I had written about Enzo before as a portrait of a migrant. But he requested another interview from me. The reason for this is the disregard shown by the world to the brutal exploitation ongoing in Congo. And now, I present my conversation with Enzo in this column.
This is what Enzo has to say;
“I am being invited by universities to talk about Coltan mines. I present conferences. But I am surprised that not even universities have any knowledge about this subject. This is because the truth is not reaching the world. I have gone around those mines, I know them. For this reason, they pulled out three of my teeth with pliers. Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery but modern slavery in Africa still continues. Congo gained its independence in 1960; it became the Democratic Republic of Congo. But this was superficial. Because 5.4 million people lost their lives in Coltan mines. Today there is still 2 million children living in these mines.”
The numbers are extraordinary, are they not? I enquired about a few articles I have read, these were articles which reported 40 thousand children (not 2 million) working in the mines. He objected vehemently:
“These are lies… Let me tell you: the mines are located in the Masisi, Rubaya, Luwowo and Goma regions. This region is guarded by 20 thousand soldiers from the UN Monusco Mission. This is because 1.4 billion dollars are being earned from the back of this region every year. But people work for 1 dollar a day! 80% of world coltan reserves are found in Congo, 5% in Thailand, 5% in Brazil and 10% in Australia. Coltan is used in the production of plasma TVs, cameras, mobile telephones, computers, trains and the subways. For instance, you want to manufacture smart cars, right? And you have no mine! Everyone needs it. This is where the fights and conflict stem from actually. For this reason, the coltan region is also a perpetual conflict zone. People are displaced. The place became the world capital of rape. 40 women an hour are being raped. They don’t care about human rights, because they need child labourers!”
The coltan mines in Congo are so valuable that Enzo claims that the tactic of “Balkanisation” has been employed here for the annexation of the region. Here is his claim:
“In the bordering Ruanda, not even a gram of coltan can be found but they nonetheless make the greatest sales. For the trade of coltan takes place through Ruanda. There are many hands hovering over Ruanda. Now they would like to establish a buffer zone which will incorporate the coltan region. I read about peace and conflict, I know this system well. Electronic firms are also the sponsor of arms sales. A secret war is being waged in that region, with raids on villages and people dying every day.”
Enzo does not consider the parliament in Congo as legitimate. According to him, the Assembly run by the oligarchs is also convenient for the multinational companies. As such, by giving a democratic semblance to Congo, exploitation, massacres and electoral irregularities are being concealed.
The coltan mines in Congo have now taken over from ivory and rubber trade. But the people of the country are experiencing a dearth amidst riches. One of the biggest dams is also in Congo. But there is no electricity in many schools. Energy is traded abroad. The people cannot find water etc.
What Enzo told could not fit this column. The only truth is that he has to speak at every platform, Congo and Africa’s screams should be reiterated; so that what is invisible is rendered visible.
What do we see when we look at a migrant? Is it only victimisation? That this is not the case must have been evidenced adequately by Enzo’s words. And indeed each migrant, just as chroniclers, is also a rich narrator of history.
As we conclude…
I will suggest considering those who have sanctified the memorandum on Libya with dreams of “turning Turkey into an Afro-Eurasian country” with the “severed veins of Africa.”