Il costo del nostro mondo nuovo

Nel lungo reportage di Nicolas Niarchos per l’ultimo numero del New Yorker (31 maggio 2021) sui lavoratori delle miniere di cobalto congolesi, gli spaccati duri, e a tratti decisamente violenti, che da quelle vicende emergono, sono un pugno nello stomaco, per noi che dei prodotti realizzati con il minerale argenteo dai bei riflessi azzurri godiamo, dai cellulari alle so trendy auto elettriche, che tanto ci fanno sentire in pace e in equilibrio con la natura e il mondo.

Se possibile, fra i tanti fendenti che quelle righe sferrano, quello nelle parole di Odilon Kajumba, uno dei lavoratori intervistati (minatore nell’area di Kolwezi, uno dei più importanti centri per il rame e il cobalto, nel sud della Repubblica Democratica del Congo, non lontano dal confine con lo Zambia), mi ha colpito più di molte altre importanti cose contenute nel lungo articolo. Parlando dei rischi e della pericolosità del suo mestiere, Kajumba ha detto a Niarchos: «To be scared, you must first have means». Per avere paura, devi prima avere i mezzi. Persino la paura diventa lusso, che lui e i suoi compagni non possono permettersi.

E siccome il servizio di Niarchos assesta decisi e convinti uppercut, è giusto che ce li prendiamo tutti. Riporto qui alcuni brani, che credo emblematici di tante cose dei nostri tempi (e credetemi voi se vi dico che non sono i pezzi più duri e dolorosi che ho letto in quelle pagine): «In Kolwezi, children as young as three learn to pick out the purest ore from rock slabs. Soon enough, they are lugging ore for adult creuseurs [“artisanal diggers” – “scavatori artigianali” –, nda]. Teen-age boys often work perilous shifts navigating rickety shafts. Near large mines, the prostitution of women and young girls is pervasive. Other women wash raw mining material, which is often full of toxic metals and, in some cases, mildly radioactive. If a pregnant woman works with such heavy metals as cobalt, it can increase her chances of having a stillbirth or a child with birth defects. According to a recent study in The Lancet, women in southern Congo “had metal concentrations that are among the highest ever reported for pregnant women.” The study also found a strong link between fathers who worked with mining chemicals and fetal abnormalities in their children, noting that “paternal occupational mining exposure was the factor most strongly associated with birth defects.” […] Children who work in the mines are often drugged, in order to suppress hunger. Sister Catherine Mutindi, the founder of Good Shepherd Kolwezi, a Catholic charity that tries to stop child labor, said, “If the kids don’t make enough money, they have no food for the whole day. Some children we interviewed did not remember the last time they had a meal.” Researchers estimate that thousands of children work in mining in Kolwezi alone […] The lives of most creuseurs are short and marked by suffering. Many have physical and psychological injuries from mine collapses and other accidents, and from violent confrontations with the police and the Army. Ziki, the former child creuseur, recalled an incident that took place when he was about twelve: “One Friday, we were sitting down, and soldiers came into the mine—they caught us. They threw us to the ground. They sprayed us with water and then began to whip us. We began to cry and ask for mercy. And we swore to them that we would never come again to this place.” […] I asked Ziki what he thought of people who profited from cobalt mining. “I have sadness in my heart when I think of people who buy the minerals,” he said. “They make so much money, and we have to stay like this.” When I told him that Americans paid more than a thousand dollars for the latest iPhone, he replied, “It really hurts me to hear that.”».

Quanto costa, questo nostro mondo nuovo?

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