Rags, Rapes, and Riches: An Op Ed to Adam Hochschild’s The Blood Diamonds Myth

After a preliminary reading of Adam Hochschild’s The Blood Diamonds Myth, it was palpable that this commentary was fragmentary of a larger landscape. It just seemed as if this piece was missing something more…perhaps substance? To read this  write-up in isolation a part from it’s larger context, Hochschilds’ Blood and Treasure report would do an injustice to the imperative need for action against “conflict minerals”. From first glance, the implication of the commentary’s title, The Blood Diamonds Myth suggests that the reports of conflict materials and the mining of resources in the DRC are merely a variety of collective stories and beliefs, connoting more fiction than truth, which may easily be reflected through the lens of Western Media as in the film Blood Diamonds. However, from a perusal of Hochschild’s other comparable pieces, it is evident that he wishes to enlighten us on the point at issue, which is that “the real problem is not conflict minerals, but the fact that Congo’s long-suffering people reap only a tiny share of their country’s vast wealth”.

In the media, more attention is often focused on taking collective action against the conflict minerals as a byproduct of rebel violence, and less emphasis placed upon taking action against the exploitation of the Congolese amidst the process of acquisition of those conflict minerals. For years we’ve been hearing about the regional fighting, the coerced labor, and more prevalent the sexual violence and gang rape. It’s evident that something needs to be done. But seriously, can the savagery be reconciled by boycotting? Just because it may have worked toward the ban of “conflict diamonds” and the “anti-apartheid movement” does not mean it’s a variable to be easily plugged into what appears as a an equivalent African equation. On account of being an African state does not indicate that since boycotting worked in one part of Africa, it just as well will work for another. Furthermore, Hochschild acknowledges the uncertainty of boycotting’s consequences and alludes to the idea that a greater need for action requires a strong and operative government. However, in a state that is purely perceived as a territory dispersed with wealth, will the people ever be a priority?

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