The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world’s most resource-rich countries. The region harbors a wealth of gold, diamonds, uranium, and other highly lucrative minerals. So why are so many of the country’s people forced to live in fear and squalor? Produced by the exceptional RT Documentary channel, Congo, My Precious illustrates how the blessings of these resources have become a curse for much of the country’s struggling and weary population.
The story of the Congo has long been stained by greed, tragedy and bloodshed. Under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium, their mineral mines were operated much like slave camps, and workers were savagely abused if they failed to reach their daily quota. Much to the relief of its citizens, the country finally won its independence in 1960.
It was in that year that the film’s central interview subject was born, a husband and father named Bernard Kalume Buleri. Alas, for Buleri and countless others, the promise of independence for all proved meaningless and empty. In his frank and vulnerable testimony, he speaks of his tortured existence in his homeland, his fierce love for his family, and a previous experience during the Rwandan genocide that is among the most haunting anecdotes you’re likely to hear.
Rebel militants illegally seize the country’s mines on a regular basis, and commit heinous acts of violence and human rights violations in the process. Child slave labor is often used for their mining operations, including those involving coltan, a valuable mineral used in a variety of the world’s most popular electrical products. Rebel fractions can make as much as $120 for every kilogram of the mineral they’re able to attain, but their exploited work force must live off as little as $10 a week. As one Congolese mining supervisor explains, “It’s still mostly foreigners who profit from it, while we’re still as poor as we always have been.”
Congo, My Precious is an extremely impactful portrait of human suffering. Its subjects are burdened by the ghosts of their past, and they long for normal lives free from terror and insurmountable economic hardship.