As we’re still thriving on the high of Black Panther and the thrilling idea of the land of Wakanda, it’s important that we pay attention to the ways in which real-life African nations are still being drained of and abused for multi-million dollar resources.
According to a CBS News investigation, child labor is being used to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is used in batteries in common devices, including cell phones, laptops, and electric vehicles.
CBS News traveled to the DRC to follow the complex supply chain. A report from Amnesty International first revealed that several companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and Samsung, may use batteries produced as part of this labor chain. It’s been two years since the information for the report was gathered, but since the country is caught up in conflict, it is difficult and sometimes dangerous to get reporting done there.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates 40,000 children are working in DRC mines. More than half of the world’s supply comes from DRC and 20 percent of that is mined by hand, according to Darton Commodities Ltd.
One of the many themes in Black Panther is the power native Wakandans have due to the self-sufficiency granted by large stores of the invaluable meteoric ore vibranium, the most powerful substance known to man. They are able to use vibranium to feed their own economy and thrive as an independent nation, a world separate from the rest of the planet in so many ways. However, we know the reality is that for many African nations, such as DRC with cobalt, Sudan and Nigeria with oil, and Sierra Leone, Angola, and Botswana with diamonds, many deals made there go unregulated.
The fact that Black Panther has been so inspiring for children and adults alike is incredible and is not something to be taken lightly. But it’s important to be aware of the potential existing Wakandas we have and the ways we could move closer to that type of freedom for all.