cover image Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed

Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed

John Prendergast and Fidel Bafilemba. Grand Central, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4555-8464-2

Prendergast (Not on Our Watch), the founder of Enough Project, and Bafilemba, the coordinator of the Congolese civil society network GATT-RN, narrate how “the plundering of Congo has been engineered and maintained to benefit a few people for more than 500 years.” Accompanied by photographs by actor Ryan Gosling, the text provides a broad historical overview of the central African nation, particularly the economic exploitation that has benefited Europe, the U.S., and armed groups. Congo has been used as a source of slaves, ivory, rubber, copper, uranium, diamonds, cobalt, and most recently gold and “the 3Ts” (tin, tantalum, and tungsten) indispensable in the manufacturing of electronic devices. In the stated hope that the book will inspire readers to engage in advocacy in solidarity with the Congolese people, the authors highlight local initiatives and success stories from activists—whom they call “upstanders” (as opposed to “bystanders”)—striving to put an end to the present-day conflict; one example is a collaboration between D.R.C. and U.S. activists that pushed Congress to enact legislation requiring American companies to report on their supply chains with regard to conflict minerals, which “dramatically reduced... the number of Congolese armed groups and the money that sustains them.” Idealists and activists new to the D.R.C. will find this call to arms illuminating. (Dec.)