“Don’t throw away your smart phones yet” (Bandi Mbubi)
I was working at Campus Party Europe in Tempelhof, observing the results of 5 months of very hard work, when I got the opportunity to meet Bandi Mbubi. It is amazing how sometimes when you’ve worked in such an intense proyect full of obstacles to overcome, suddenly everything fits into a perfect place. I got the notion of exactly why I was there, in that proyect, in that moment, at that place. I was looking forward for the NASA talk at Campus Party Europe, when suddenly in the next stage something caught my attention. There was Bandi, in the biotech stage, ready to begin.
“Can you all please reach into your pockets and take out your mobile phones, iphones, ipads?… Can you imagine your life without it?…What you hold in your hands leaves a bloody trail”- (Bandi Mbubi, Berlin 2012)
The aquisition of tantalum or better known as coltan, a mineral used by smartphone makers in order to give us the features, the touchscreens and that connects us to the world via internet, is also connecting us to a terrible war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rape is used as a weapon, where childhood is corrupted because children are enlisted in armed groups, and where activists are forced to leave the country. This reality was suddenly slapping our faces, tearing our hearts, shocking our worlds.
“But don’t throw away your phones yet”– Bandi continued. The technology that is causing these conflicts in the Congo and its neighbor countries, is the same that has been used to free Egypt, and to make people aware of the black diamonds. It is the same tool that can lead or stop a war. It depends on how we use it, it solely depends on our level of awareness, commitment and most of all our capacity to open our hearts to a world without barriers. We can all help this cause, we can all raise awareness with our technology, we can all contribute to humanize technology. It is once again proven that we are all connected somehow. Personally, hearing this words made me want to do something, and here I am, writing about this, making this topic known between my own network and share this experience.
It is time to acknowledge the internet as a human network, a call to improve sourcing minerals policies to make a conflict free technology. We can all advocate for a better use of technology. You decide.
It is time to put pressure on tech companies and to demand conflict free technology. This a call to open your hearts and minds and use technology as a tool of freedom.
This is Congo Calling.
For more information about this project please visit http://www.congocalling.org