Congoweek: Breaking the Silence

- Pakhuis de Zwijger

Between 1996 and now, one of the greatest catastrophes since World War II took place in the center of Africa, Congo. It has cost 5 to 6 million people their lives. How is it possible that a catastrophe on this scale can take place while most of us in the Netherlands are unaware of it? Where does this invisibility come from, and what is the role of the media in this? In the context of the Congoweek, we will look into the interests, bias and shortcomings in the media about these so-called ‘concealed conflicts’. Furthermore, we will look at how we can generate more attention for concealed conflicts in collaboration with the Landelijk Overleg Afrikanen (National Consultation of Africans), Congolese Action Youth Platform and Congoweek. In this way, we aim to put Amsterdam on the map within the global movement in creating awareness about conflicts in Congo.

Resources and cobalt production
Although there is little known about this conflict, the West benefits from the valuable resources of Congo: many of modern technologies such as telephones, laptops and airplanes contain cobalt that comes from this conflict area. Local communities suffer from the extraction of cobalt in Congo. Besides the environmental pollution such as drinking water pollution, human rights of Congolese locals are seriously violated by forced relocation. Despite Congo’s crucial role in the global economy, these problems are not incidental, as research of SOMO points out. The consumption of digital goods in the West therefore has serious consequences for the people and nature of Congo, however, no responsibility is taken by the Western consumers or the market. Moreover, there is little to no awareness regarding this topic. How do we move forward from this?

Fortunately there are several organizations that are coming together to shed light on this issue. One of these organizations that will attend this evening is the UK based Congolese Action Youth Platform , an active group of the young diaspora that stands up against injustices regarding Congo.

Another organization developed by the international diaspora is Congoweek, an overarching institution that unites communities worldwide to raise global consciousness about the situation in the Congo. This event is co-created with the organization Congoweek, and aims to discuss the invisibility of conflicts in Congo, ways to raise awareness and build towards a positive future. 

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