Can you hear me now? That’s what Rhyme Like A Girl and my talented friend Nasambu are asking in their new video for In The Congo, to bring more awareness to the decades long conflict in eastern Congo that is fueled by the global demand for its minerals essential to our mobile phones, laptops and other electronics.
The song and video are the first collaborative effort of its kind to shed light on what some call the Third World War, an almost 20 year conflict financed by the exploitation of minerals like tin, tungsten, gold and tantalum. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the bloodiest since World War Two: more than 5 million deaths, the rape of 300,000 women in the past 15 years, 3 million displaced refugees and the systematic abuse of children as forced laborers to work in the mines and as soldiers to fight among the many armed groups fighting over the valuable ores. The Congo contains at least 64% of the world’s supply of coltan, the ore from which tantalum is derived, which is used to make capacitors for electronics like mobile phones, laptops and tablets among other things.
The video is produced and directed by Zavara Mponjika, the respected hip hop pioneer and filmmaker from Tanzania and features New York based female hip hop group Rhyme Like A Girl and Los Angeles based Kenyan Afro-Soul artist Nasambu. Mponjika headed the group KwanzaUnit credited with influencing BonzoFlava, the popular east African genre and pioneering the Bonzo Hip Hop movement. Rhyme Like A Girl is led by Toni Blackman, an award-winning artist and activist who was the first ever hip hop artist selected by the US State Department to work as a cultural ambassador and Nasambu is the founder of Activate Afrika, a group and movement for positive change in Africa.
They are joining forces together across borders to highlight an ongoing humanitarian crisis often overlooked by mainstream media and the general public. We need to raise our social consciousness about the need for more green technology and fair trade electronics. These devices are so ubiquitous, as consumers, we can’t even go one day without them and with the insatiable demand for newer, faster products every season, the vicious cycle continues in search of more minerals and more profit at the expense of extreme human suffering in Africa. What can you do to help? Please spread this video and watch Bandi Mbubi’s TED talk about how to demand fair trade cell phones and the documentary Blood in the Mobile.