By Andrea Bellew
Georges Nzabanita, a study abroad student from Congo, Africa who left last semester, started a Conflict Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) chapter here at Georgetown College. CFCI is a national organization that is affiliated with Raise Hope for Congo and the Enough Project.
Their main issue involves the electronics people buy worldwide, such as iPhones, cameras and laptops. Almost every piece of technology produced in the world contains these four minerals: tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. These minerals are mined pretty much exclusively in the Congo, where violence rages daily.
Congo has an unstable government, so the people become helplessly enslaved over these minerals because they’re worth so much and the land is rich in these natural resources that the entire world uses.
Armed forces come in and take over the villages so that they can force people to mine and smuggle the minerals across the border to Rwanda and Uganda. The smuggled minerals eventually get mixed into the products that people buy all the time.
The money made from those products is used to buy more weapons, which continually escalates the problem, especially in a country that has the worst problem with rape.
Rape is used as a weapon there. The death toll in Congo appropriately reflects their troubles; it has the biggest death toll since WWII.
The Enough Project compiled a list of companies that shows which companies are tracking their supply chain.
At the top of the list are the companies who have tracked their supply chain the most, and at the bottom are ones who do not so well. It is hard to completely determine at this point whether or not someone is using conflict minerals in their technology, but the companies at the top are the ones who are taking the most steps to determine this.
On our campus, CFCI is trying to raise awareness about what happens in Congo and how their consumer choices are possibly causing death. CFCI is also attempting to get the college’s administration to pass a Conflict Free Resolution.
Signing the resolution would be a symbolic step towards buying from companies that are at the top of that list, the ones who are taking the most steps to track their supplies.
The resolution was put through the administration last semester, but they denied it, so CFCI is going to do more events this semester in order to strengthen the organization
Eventually, CFCI will put the resolution through administration again in hopes of its passing.
For anyone who wants to get involved, weekly meetings are held on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. in the Arnett Room of the LRC.
This week, however, CFCI is showing a documentary at 8 p.m. called “Blood in the Mobile,” which is a Nexus event in Asher 112.
This is their first event of the semester, but they have been taking pictures of people holding signs for their Facebook page, which is GC Conflict Free Campus Initiative. Their weekly meetings will resume the week after next.