Coltan defined is a black metallic ore. An ore is a rock that contains minerals with elements within them that include metals that can be extracted from the rock and used for a number of productive purposes. In the case of coltan, this ore, once melted down into a powder, can absorb electrical charges. This makes it invaluable as a conduit for transmission of digital communication signals. So, coltan is used to create wiring that is used in all devices that utilize a signal. This includes, but isn't limited to, your cell phone, flat screen television, video game component system, lap top computer, tablet, iPad, dishwasher, and even some engine parts in your vehicle's diagnostic system. No one reading this doesn't obviously rely on a number of those devices for daily life functions. Consequently, you can easily see how coltan has quickly evolved into one of the most sought after minerals on Earth. Today, it sells for approximately $600 U.S. per pound. There are many places on Earth where coltan can be found from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Now if we were talking about a world reality where coltan, and all other resources, were being utilized for the objective of providing for people's needs, the reason the minerals are there in the first place, then there would be no problem here. Of course, in this capitalist dominated world economy, their objective for any product development is always profitability, not meeting people's needs. And the multi-national corporations who sit at the top of the economic ladder have perfected the process of achieving profits at all costs, regardless of the toll their objectives cause for the people they exploit. Another thing the capitalists have perfected is the ability to redirect most people's attention within the capitalist societies from being even the slightest bit conscious about these exploitative processes and the impact they are having on people and the planet Earth. Whether its coltan mining, or proposed oil pipelines over Indigenous people's lands in North Dakota in the U.S., most people in the U.S., Europe, Australia, etc., are completely ignorant about any of this. Its important that we do everything we can to correct this so we will reiterate the point that there are many places where coltan can be found. The problem for the capitalists is that since they are always all about profitability, and nothing else, they are only interested in being able to mine for coltan in conditions that are the most cost effective for them, regardless of the consequences for the people impacted or the planet. This is why the Congo, in Central Africa, remains the place where large percentages of coltan continues to be produced. The Congo has been destabilized by imperialism for decades. In 1960, the country had unlimited potential. Patrice Lumumba was elected as the new prime minister and his Pan-Africanist vision had great hopes for the future of the Congolese people. Since the central region of Africa remains the most mineral rich region in the world, Lumumba and his newly elected National Congolese Movement (MNC) had desires to use that mineral wealth to develop the Congo, the Congolese people, and all of Africa. One year later, Lumumba was dead - murdered by a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) supported assassination effort - the MNC was forced into hiding, and the Congo spiraled out of control into such a state of instability that schools, roads, and any level of infrastructure existed only on extremely sporadic and isolated instances. In fact, after 1960, the Congo didn't even experience another national election until 2007. So, this gives you an idea of how disrupted this region has been for the last 60 years and the CIA's involvement was motivated in large part due to its desire to protect the economic interests of the U.S. and Belgium mining companies who profited from readily exploiting the Congo's mineral resources before the MNC pledged to stop all of this madness. Its important here to note that the mining industry has historically been a major source of instability and exploitation in Africa. This is true because the mining industry, like all major industries in Africa, are controlled by foreign multi-national corporations whose only interest is taking what it can from Africa and leaving with all the wealth while leaving the masses of people there with nothing. This is model that has existed in Africa for centuries and the independence movement of the 50s and 60s has done little to stem that tide. Instead, capitalism has taken on a black face (the same way it has for the last eight years in the U.S.) where puppet leaders oversee the continued exploitation of all national resources in Africa in exchange for personal riches at the expense of the masses of Africans. This model is the living definition of neo-colonialism. As it relates to coltan mining in the Congo, let's illustrate how this devastating process actually looks for the people on the ground.
Hundreds of thousands of Africans wake up every day in the Congo, meaning seven (7) days per week. They work twelve (12) hours a day minimum in the mines, digging out the coltan by hand. Their work conditions, having no oversight whatsoever, consist of working in poorly ventilated and highly pressurized environments that are proven breeding grounds for the worse types of respiratory ailments. This explains why the typical miner has a life expectancy of less than 40 years old. On top of that, these workers are paid an average of $3 to 5 dollars per day in an economy where the average sandwich would cost at least that much on the street. These workers have families and there is obviously no way working 84 hours per week for $35.00 total is going to do anything except guarantee generations of poverty of the worst kind. So, these hardworking miners finish this exploitative day by loading the coltan into plastic lined rice sacks that they carry on their heads and shoulders over to the symbolic water movement systems that take the minerals away from the mines and on their way out of Africa and into the coffers of Apple, Samsung, and the other multi-nationals who benefit from this devious process. And since those companies are product manufacturing entities, and not mining companies, they never set foot in the Congo. That work is done by major mining companies like the Britain based Coltan Mining LTD which facilitates processing the coltan into the powder based wiring that serves the manufacturers. There are other problems the coltan mining process presents. Like all mining in Africa, its done for the purpose of identifying cheap and ready sources of the material in mind, in this case - coltan. Its not done with any type of environmental sensitivity and as I've already stated, there is no oversight since so-called neo-colonialist officials are paid to look the other way. So, the fact that coltan mining in the Congo has eliminated the natural habitat of gorillas at an alarming rate has escaped the radar of even the most vocal animal rights activists in the capitalist countries. I guess that gorilla lives don't matter if they are in Africa which shouldn't be surprising to any African reading this. As a whole, this system works perfectly for the name brand companies because it gives them the cover of plausible deniability. Meanwhile, the Africans in the Congo are sick, dead, poor, and left with nothing. No future, no hope, and no ability to grasp control of their lives.
Again, this is the standard mining process for any of the products mentioned at the beginning of this article and this process is the primary reason Africa remains poor and dependent and why the Western capitalist countries continue to own everything. Clearly, the continued white supremacist lie that Africans are lazy is easily dis-proven just by envisioning the hard labor these miners experience every day without rest. Work that the good European (white) capitalist loving communities wouldn't last one hour performing, despite all your prayers for God to bless you and your so-called free world.
As D'Angelo sang "its all a lie, its all a lie." There's never been any greatness or freedom. Just the lies of a dying capitalist system. At least it should be clear to you by now why we proclaim Africa's liberation to be the primary objective of all real Black revolutionaries in the world today. As Sekou Ture told us, imperialism will find it's grave in Africa. Its only when this devastating system of exploitation is broken that imperialism will be defeated. You can organize all the workers in every capitalist country five or six times. Until imperialism is broken in Africa, it will never be defeated. So, next time you are staring into your cell phone, watching your flat screen, driving your car, or looking at your iPad or lap top, think about that.