A large midweek wedding celebration dominated the eastern Congo town of Goma, this week, for the first time in decades. Is the war over, or just getting ready to start, again?
We’ll have to go to our PlayStation3 to find out.
I have a mixture of distant nostalgia and abject fear when I remember my own adventures in Goma. Before Mobutu was gone the Congo (then Zaire) was a secretive and scary place, but once inside the forests were filled with beauty and magic. And that was the problem, you had to be a wizard to get out.
But the end of Mobutu – as horrible as he was – heralded an unprecedented era of barbarism. Mineral-rich Kivu province, the eastern slice of the Congo that lies astride Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, became a lawless bastion of mercenaries and thugs.
Supported by the west’s desperate need for such absolutely essential things as weapons of mass destruction, Kivu went on the auction block, and the bidders were Sony, Intel, the U.S. Defense Department and a bevy of other moral-less capitalists. They all need Coltan.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 80% of the world’s Coltan reserves are in Kivu.
Coltan is a wizard’s brew. When refined it becomes tantalum, and shortly thereafter it becomes camera lenses, cell phones, detailed instruments for surgical implants, wires and filaments in light bulbs that last 100 times longer than tungsten and its alloys are used for jet engines, missiles and all sorts of secret, wizardry things.
But where is most of it used?
Right now, that would be PlayStation3.
I find it so heartening that PlayStation3 now uses more Coltan than the Defense Department.
According to the monitoring group, Towards Freedom, there are 1300 people that die every day in Kivu from bullets or perverse rape. The massacre is a part of the Coltan War. Whoever controls Coltan gets very, very rich.
Those who mine Coltan are abused, mostly children. Those who finally collect for the sales of Coltan often shun dollars for weapon – did you hear that? “Shun Dollars”? What do they want instead?
It’s so remarkably convenient. The most sophisticated guns use Coltan. Is this what they call sustainable development?
Eleven years ago the world got antsy with this unusual war for PlayStations, and the UN Security Council sent in 20,000 troops to Kivu to regulate the slaughter and rape. Forget about child labor in the mines, that was beyond their mission.
It has worked a little bit. Enough that there are now weddings in Goma. Enough that the very distant President of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, has asked the UN soldiers to leave. Kabila rules from Kinshasa, more than a thousand miles away over impenetrable jungles and in a world as distant from Kivu as .. Well, as from Leaf Valley, Agar or the other supposedly mythical republics of the PlayStation worlds.
If they go, the modicum of stability in Goma will, well I think the term used in the “Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package” for PlayStation is , evaporize.
We better all get ready. Click here.