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Fifty-three years ago, a political decision changed the course of my life and I wasn’t even born when it was made.

After several bouts of ethnic hostilities in Nigeria during which thousands of Igbo people were murdered and chased out of cities, back to their ancestral communities in southeastern Nigeria, leaders from the southeast declared on May 30, 1967 that the region would breakaway from Nigeria and form the Republic of Biafra.

Diplomatic efforts to unite Nigeria failed; war spilled out and continued pouring out atrocities for three years.

The land of my birth- southeastern Nigeria- collapsed into a battlefield: Nigeria versus Biafra. …

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There was an ancient city called Great Zimbabwe built by the Shona people of southern Africa created between 1100 and 1600 AD.

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Great Zimbabwe is a medieval city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo.

There’s not much left of the city, but the remnants are quite spectacular. Whenever I think about them, I have to admit, my lips part into a smile.


Take the mystical beauty of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, an African Christian heritage that dates back to the 4th century; the resilient republicanism of the culture of Igbo people; the deep regard for matriarchy among the Asante and their beloved Queen Mothers; the enchanting traditions of poetry from the Acholi and Somali people; or the glorious gracefulness and strength of the Wolof people’s sabar dance…when I think of all this, my heart swells with pride. …

Hey, your cell phone, laptop or tablet likely has a rare metallic ore called coltan in it. Now maybe, you’ve never heard of coltan, but your device probably wouldn’t even turn on without it.

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A man displays coltan rocks at a town in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo — Reuters/Baz Ratner

Coltan is extremely useful. It contains a key metal that’s used to manufacture lightbulbs, computers, vacuum cleaners and nowadays, solar panels.

But have you ever heard of blood diamonds? Well, coltan is a blood mineral, AKA, a conflict mineral. Conflict minerals are dirty secrets that the electronic industry doesn’t want you to know about.

From Mine to Mobile Phone: The Conflict Minerals Supply Chain

Let me break it down:

Conflict minerals are natural, raw minerals that finance warfare. Rebel soldiers, oppressive dictatorships, genocides, conflict, systematic rape, human rights abuses — these things are often perpetuated and funded by money generated from the extraction and sale of conflict minerals. …


Chika Oduah

Africa-centric news, notes and observations from a journalist | poet | photographer | filmmaker | writer travelling through Africa * chika.oduah@gmail.com

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