Cécile Kyenga: The first black Italian minister that couldn’t save her country ravaged by Ebola

KYE1 Italian ophthalmologist, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge

Wed, 31 Mar 2021 Source: Joel Savage

Cécile Kashetu Kyenge is an Italian ophthalmologist, born from a wealthy family in the Congolese district of Katanga. She studied medicine and surgery and in 1983, she obtained a scholarship to study at the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore - (the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) in Rome.

Unfortunately, the grant she waited for in her country of origin, Congo, didn’t arrive, therefore, she entered Italy with a visa for study purposes. She settled in Modena in a college for missionaries and worked as a caregiver to pay for her studies. She managed to graduate, specializing in ophthalmology.

During her life activities in Italy, she married an Italian and gained her citizenship. Under Enrico Letta government, an Italian politician who was Prime Minister of Italy from 2013 to 2014, Cécile Kyenge was appointed the Minister of Integration.

For several years, Cécile contributed to sociality by working and creating nonprofit organizations, defending and being a spokesperson for immigrants’ rights.

Furthermore, she was engaged in various projects for development and goods exchange promoted by Europe in underdeveloped countries of Africa, specifically of a control committee of which she is a member.

Basically, the European Union gives funds for many kinds of projects that can involve reconstruction, soil rehabilitation, culture, or something else. It’s the duty of the committee to determine that the country which receives the money actually spend on the right project, and for nothing else.

Cécile spoke about her country, especially, the South of Congo, in particular, which is the center of the Ebola crisis because of its high concentration of cobalt, a mineral that has become fundamental for the whole world.

Being a ferromagnetic element that is used for creating the batteries of our precious smartphones, not only, its importance is even higher if we take a look at industry 4.0, but that also has the aim of spreading the use of the electric car on a mass scale, eliminating this way the use of oil in the western world.

This elimination of pollution in the advanced world is so important to them that Africa has to pay for it? If things are going to stay this way, the answer is yes. Human impact is more than visible, miners digging without any security device; dozens of thousands are regular, hundreds of thousands are undeclared, usually working for Chinese companies to sell their cobalt.

You have to consider that in some cases these workers (Congolese) that are also fathers, dig all day without finding a single gram of cobalt: These are days that they don’t get paid. The scenery gets even more obscene when these workers are children.

UNICEF has stated that 40,000 Congolese children are working in cobalt mines and it seems that they preferred them to adults since they are poorly paid. Compared to the 2 dollars that adults get per day, they only get 90 cents. The age of these little workers goes from 8 to 14 years old.

This drama brings other problems within itself, such as mass migrations of people who want to find the Western and Chinese treasure, and considerable geological damage, due to mines that made the soil extremely fragile.

Even though she is aware that Ebola in Congo didn't miraculously appear from heaven, Kyenge couldn't speak about it the fact that she is a black minister who has experienced extreme racism and the possibility of losing her ministerial post, she declined to protest a talk about it.

There is another damage that involves the native tribes that get pushed away, doesn’t matter which way. The cobalt crisis started some years ago and the dynamics seem to get worse, considering that our demand will double by 2020.

Meanwhile, royalties on mineral extractions have already increased, together with taxes those companies will have to pay, by the will of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, who seems to ignore the situation in which his people are struggling.

The European committee suggests a solution with traceability certificates but, by now, they’re just suggestions. Meanwhile, Amnesty has inquired about what are the giants of the technology industry that are collaborating with industries that respect human rights.

The data shows that only two among the dozens inquired have decided to follow a marketing strategy that is respectful of ethics, and they are Apple and Samsung. Other ones, such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Microsoft, Lenovo, Renault, and Huawei did almost nothing to control the problem.

The biggest part of this situation is China’s property, which has the role of the colonizer, again, in the African continent. Cécile, together with other European deputies are working in order to create a deal with which no country will be forced to undergo this kind of situation.

There is a long and difficult way to go, and we know that the mechanisms that are moving great industries are almost unstoppable. Nevertheless, there is an important matter that you just cannot ignore, human rights, that’s the need to be respected in every single place on Earth, even the most remote, she concludes.

Columnist: Joel Savage