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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Hiroshima’s first victims – the workers of DRC’s Shinkolobwe mine – remembered

Cape Town – On the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Japanese-cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Congolese Civil Society of South Africa (CCSSA) and Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education remembered the first victims of the atrocity – those who had mined the deadly uranium for the atomic bombs with bare hands at the Shinkolobwe mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The annual commemorative event was held at Gardens Commercial High School on Saturday.

On August 6, 1945 the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, and “Fat Man” on Nagasaki on August 9. The mining of the uranium at Shinkolobwe formed part of the Manhattan Project, a US-led effort to produce the first nuclear weapons.

The society’s Yves Salankang said the shadow of silence and secrecy was still on Shinkolobwe. Salankang said the Congo uranium was considered the most dangerous in the world.

Congolese Civil Society founder and director, Isaiah Mombilo said Shinkolobwe was the missing link in history, and it was important for the society to share the unspoken history of Africa and more specifically of Congo.

“This is so important for the African value, for Africans being used to do a very massive disaster of mankind in Hiroshima because we were used like slaves in that time, so that we could produce what they needed to make a bomb,” Mombilo said.

“There’s inhabitants of the area right now. They put concrete in the mine – the governor of the US – so that they could cover it but they still have a disaster around with the population being affected up to now,” Mombilo said

The mine was officially closed in 2004, however, South African British historian Garret Eriksen said artisanal or informal mining continued.

Eriksen said the possibility of nuclear warfare had never been higher.

“Our biggest problem is climate change. We’re not going to be fighting over borders, over political entities, we’re going to be fighting over water and land. Because climate change is going to make certain parts of the world unlivable and the bigger and badder countries are then going to start using their arsenals to enforce their claim over certain resources.”

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Cape Argus

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