Apple’s announcement yesterday was a major buzz kill. The new iPhone will only be a version of the current 4th generation, and won’t be shatter-proof (we know a lot of you are walking around with busted iPhones). We wonder what folks working in the coltan mines in the Congo, where 80% of the world’s supply of this mineral can be found, thought about Apple’s unsatisfactory announcement. For them, it’s probably just another day on the job (we use the word “job” loosely because that would imply compensation for work done – which is not always the case).

For those who don’t know, coltan is one of the key minerals used in the iPhone’s circuit board, as well as the inner workings of many other electronics including computers.  It is also what Adam Hochschild has described as one of four main reasons for ongoing deadly violence in the Congo. So much violence in fact, that it has been coined the ‘blood mineral’ – joining the ranks of the ‘blood diamond.’ In addition to the violence, working conditions in the mines can be also be deadly. We’re not here to preach, but it’s always good to be reminded of the price others pay for our technologies. For more information on how our cell phones fuel the war, check out the documentary Blood in the Mobile by filmmaker Frank Piasecki Poulsen.

To support efforts for peace in the Congo, check out Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Oxfam.

Comments

  • Lamp Fall

    Thanks for posting this…it is actually quite a complicated issue that I suggest people research well before hopping on any bandwagon or campaign. The relationship of the DRC to the United States is something that has come out regarding this issue, particularly regarding the Dood-Frank legislation – which ironically is also linked to the #occupywallst movement and corporate regulation. It would do us all well to think outside the box on this one – how can americans and congolese best cooperate on this issue? what are the responsibilities of consumers/users of iphones and electronics? what does it mean to be part of the global 1% that has the privilege and power of owning an iphone? please read:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/opinion/how-congress-devastated-congo.html?_r=1
    http://www.lawsofrule.net/2011/09/04/conflict-minerals-get-on-with-dodd-frank/

  • Lamp Fall

    What’s with the comment I left being censored? All it was indicating was some information on finding out more about the issues raised in this post. Does okayafrica not want people thinking too hard? Does OkayAfrica have some sort of policy to stifle debate on the semi-political posts found on this site? What is the purpose of semi-political, yet un-anylytical posts about congo and wall st – to encourage thought…to make politics look cool….to promote artists and ngo’s? Look, I understand if yall don’t wanna get deep – but A) censorship is wrong, in AFRICA and the US B) Music is one of the strongest forces we have in this world to create SOCIAL CHANGE – its never psuedo-political particularly in the Afrikan context…so commentary beyond commercial hype is being true to the PEOPLE, aight. C) We are the listeners of music – you want us believe what you say about the music and culture we should consume WHILE censoring us and stifling our voices? yall betta recognize, Afrika standing up, HUMANITY standing up is bigger than YE’s materialistic ass showing up to OWS, and ‘entertainment’. MUSIC IS THE WEAPON OF THE FUTURE – don’t forget the AFRIKAN roots, and buy the AMERICAN HYPE.

    • Lamp Fall

      ok, I see the comment now, my bad. Yall didn’t censor sh%t, just seemed like it at first. but I stand by all the rest of the commentary. stay trill.

  • http://daghettotymz.com M’Bwebe Ishangi

    Nice to know other hedz are writing/filming about this topic. I humbly offer a piece written in ’09, “Blood Mineralz: Lifeblood of the Cellular and Computer Industry” — http://daghettotymz.com/current/bloodmineralz/bloodmineralz.html
    The culprits behind this massive cover-up wants the world to believe America’s involvement in the Congo is to fight communizm and the “Soviet influence in Afrika,” said by writer, William Hartung, but the real deal is in securing their own interests, namely, the mineralz bought by American companies that make cellphones and laptops…

  • SW

    @Lamp Fall, your comment is spot on in regard to the relationship between U.S. (all western) companies and the DRC. It’s complicated! The crisis is further complicated when you link corruption at the humanitarian aid level when the organizations sent to help are corrupt or look past corrupt systems by local partners. The exploitation of DRC goes back to the 1800’s of Belgium’s King Leopold (for a complete history read ” King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adan Hochschild. The genocide (YES, that’s what i said!!) is a global crisis not a Congolese or U.S. issue. Clean supply chains for DRC minerals are possible (remember what the global boycotts of South African products achieved… freedom for Nelson Mandela & the end to apartheid). To find out more on conflict minerals google “U.S. Security and Exchanges Commission and conflict minerals”, “blood minerals”, “Dodd-Frank Act” or “The Enough Project”. -Social Entrepreneur Twitter:@SonjuW

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