On October 7, Green Bay Packers Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers partnered with the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo for a rally attended by thousands of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the event, sponsored by the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, Rodgers was joined on stage by actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, Congolese Packers teammate Andy Mulumba, and student leaders to raise awareness about the conflict in Congo and to tell Madison students what they could do to stop key drivers of the conflict.
While the causes of the conflict are multi-faceted, violence is largely fueled by armed groups fighting for control over natural resources — especially conflict minerals: tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold — which end up in our electronics and jewelry. Raise Hope for Congo and the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, or CFCI, work to break the links between the minerals in our electronics and the violence in Congo by advocating for the creation of socially and ethically responsible supply chains in the region.
Rodgers, while announcing his commitment to CFCI’s mission, recalled his desire to get involved with Raise Hope for Congo in 2010 after realizing there was more to life than winning a Super Bowl: “After winning the Super Bowl, I thought is this it? But I wanted to be remembered for something else. In activism, a lot of the times you don't think you can do much, but you can. You can pass this resolution and have an impact.”
Chriqui, a long-time advocate for change in Congo, echoed Rodgers’ message reminding students that, as consumers, they have the power to pressure electronics and jewelry companies to support responsible sourcing. Students on over 150 campuses across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. have already joined CFCI and are working to pass resolutions to make their schools pledge to be conflict-free. UW-Madison would be the first school in the Big 10 Conference to pass a resolution.
Mulumba, Rodgers’ teammate, expressed his gratitude for bringing attention to Congo: “You don’t have to go to Congo to make an impact, everything you do here will have a direct impact to what’s happening in my country.”
The rally ended with a high-energy performance from Omekongo Dibinga as the crowd sang along: “Congo is the key to our humanity.”
Social media allowed people around the U.S. to keep up with the event as it was happening:
As the newest addition to the list of champions for Congo, Rodgers’ statements show his commitment to raising awareness of the conflict and urging American consumers to speak out against the use of conflict minerals. His celebrity platform will introduce Congo activism to a whole new audience and will significantly contribute to widespread advocacy efforts.