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Congo and Kids

Anu Anand | 16:04 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2007

"WE ALL CARRY A PIECE OF CONGO IN OUR POCKETS"

It's true. My colleague, Mark Doyle, who is the BBC's developing world correspondent, coined that memorable phrase a few years ago in a documentary about Congo's rich mineral mines. Tantalum is an ore used to make capacitors in cell phones, DVD players, laptops and games consoles.

So the next time you watch a film on your DVD player, or send a text from your mobile phone, spare a thought for Congo, home to the world's second largest rainforest.... and home, tragically, to the worst conflict since World War Two, in which more than four million people have already died.

Interestingly, Congo also provided the uranium used by the US to build the bombs dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in WWII.

A BRIEF HISTORY:

The name 'Congo' means 'hunter' and is coined from the Bakongo ethnic group.

I'll include a link to the history of Congo for those of you who are interested, but suffice it to say, the country has been plagued by instability since its independence from Belgium in 1960. The country's first Prime Minister and President didn't get along, so power was usurped by army-head, Joseph Mobutu. Funded in part by the CIA, which wanted a bulwark against communist forces in Africa, Mobutu ruled Congo with an iron fist, extracting millions in personal wealth from the country's diamond and mineral mines.

Once the Soviet Union collapsed, the US lost interest in Mobutu and he was eventually toppled by Laurent Desire Kabila in 1997. After Kabila's assassination in 2001, his son Joseph was named head of state. Today, he rules as president after an election in which he won nearly half the votes.

But despite those elections, Congo remains in turmoil. President Kabila has ordered the rebel leader General Nkunda to surrender his forces by today. But he refuses, saying he's protecting the Tutsi minority from Hutu extremists. His forces have been accused of horrific abuses like rape, torture and murder.

TONIGHT:

Is it time for the rebels in Congo to surrender? Would that help Congo achive lasting stability? As I write this, my colleague Priya is shouting down the telephone to someone in Goma, asking if they can come to our local BBC studio.

Here's the story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7043693.stm
Here's the background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo
Email us your questions: worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

SUPER-NANNY
Do you depend on TV shows to help you raise your children?

According to a leading doctor here in the UK, parents are suffering a 'crisis of confidence' and are increasingly turning to sensationalist TV shows instead of using their own common sense to raise their kids.

Have we forgotten how to be parents?
Here's the story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/14/nparent114.xml
Post your experiences here: www.bbcnews.com/worldhaveyoursay

Ciao,
Anu

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