If you’ve read Adam Hochschild’s eye-opening and masterful King Leopold’s Ghost, you’ll probably have the same reaction I had when an advance copy of his newest article, “Blood and Treasure,” came across my desk: Stop multitasking and dedicate full attention to Hochschild’s piece. It appears in the March/April issue of Mother Jones, which hits the newsstands today.
Drawing on his vault of knowledge of Congolese history, Hochschild provides the historical narrative behind an issue presently devastating the communities of eastern Congo: the unregulated trade in what we at Enough call ‘conflict minerals.’ Hochschild touches on the vast array of riches plundered from Congo over the centuries – from ivory, rubber, diamonds, copper, and people – but he focuses on one treasure of timeless value: gold.
Here’s a glimpse:
Of all the minerals to be found here, none has for so long lit up the eyes of foreigners as the yellow metal that has shaped the course of conquest on almost every continent. And today, with worldwide economic troubles and ever-rising demand from electronics manufacturing (see page 51) sending its price to unimagined heights, a new gold rush is in the making in Congo. Some of the richest goldfields in all of Africa lie up this dirt road, which begins some 350 miles east of the turnaround point of Conrad’s nightmare steamboat trip up the Congo River. The journey there, I hope, will be a way of seeing some of this country’s tragic—for there is no other word for it—wealth at its point of origin, before it vanishes into jewelry stores and bank vaults and electronics plants in Europe and China, New York and California.
The 14-page spread is illustrated with photographs from award-winning photojournalist Marcus Beasdale, whose own book about Congo, Rape of a Nation, is coming out soon.
Buy the magazine (the article is subscription only online), savor the compelling narrative and photographs, and then please visit Enough’s RAISE Hope for Congo campaign to find out how you can get involved in helping end the sordid trade in conflict minerals so that the Congolese people themselves benefit from their country’s riches.
Photo: Child mining gold in eastern Congo.