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Neocolonialism within consumer goods is always a difficult phenomenon to address. When I began to write about Western exploitative practices in the country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (henceforth DRC), it was very difficult to see how I myself was guilty of sponsoring and driving the colonialist practices that continue today in the mining of cobalt, copper, and nickel in the DRC. While I was using my Apple iPhone to take calls and send emails concerning the DRC, I was using a device that it was “impossible to know” if child labor had mined the cobalt present within the device. Cobalt is necessary for many forms of electronic devices, including cell phones, computers, and electric cars. The overwhelming demand for these products has fueled a huge need for Congolese minerals, which has fueled conflict over these minerals.

The DRC is one of the most chronically understudied countries on the African continent even though it is the second largest in size on the continent, and this is in part due to the immensely complicated issues that threaten the DRC. I have chosen to focus upon the mining operations of Western companies not only to limit the discussion for the sake of length but also because it is the most easily influenced of all the predicaments facing the DRC. The mining corporations that oversee the harvest and exploitation of Congolese minerals within the nations could be influenced by transnational legislation and international governance, which oddly enough are the easiest and least dangerous forms of reforms to assist the DRC in its continuing decolonization efforts. An additional difficulty I have faced when writing this paper is the lack of a cohesive social media presence within the country to rally against continuing neocolonial mining efforts. This is because the issue of mining decolonization has become an issue that has been popularized to the Western world by Western reporting and academia, rather than from movements and advocates from within the country. Much of the DRC does not have access to the Internet, nor do many who are affected have the means and safety to express dissent from their situations. Throughout this paper, I will express the problems that the DRC faces in regard to Western mineral extraction from the DRC but also provide commentary upon the ways that the problems in the DRC vary from similar problems across Africa, specifically in relation to Nigerian oil extraction and South African diamond mining. While the DRC has seen little publicity about mineral extraction within the country, both Nigeria and South Africa have seen more publicity concerning their respective industries and have taken varying actions regarding their industries.


This paper was presented as part of the history course Decolonization (HIST 3023) taught by Dr. Myra Houser.



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