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Congolese Civil Society of SA to commemorate all the victims of Shinkolobwe Mine

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s role in creating the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was kept secret for decades, according to historians, but the legacy of its involvement is still being felt today. Picture: AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s role in creating the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was kept secret for decades, according to historians, but the legacy of its involvement is still being felt today. Picture: AFP

Published Jun 29, 2022

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Cape Town - The Congolese Civil Society of South Africa (CCSSA) will host its annual event named “The Missing Link” to commemorate all the victims of the first atomic bomb in history.

The event is scheduled for August 6 from 1pm to 4.30pm, with a venue still to be confirmed, say organisers.

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“For seven decades, while humanity commemorates the disaster that occurred upon fellow populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, a very important piece of the disastrous puzzle still remains missed and unknown.”

According to Susan Williams, a historian at the UK Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the word “Shinkolobwe” fills her with grief and sorrow.

“It’s not a happy word, it’s one I associate with terrible grief and suffering,” she said.

She adds that few people know what, or even where, Shinkolobwe is. But this small mine in the southern province of Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), played a part in one of the most violent and devastating events in history.

“When we talk about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, we never talk about Shinkolobwe,” says Isaiah Mombilo, chairperson of the CCSSA. “Part of World War II has been forgotten and lost.”

Shinkolobwe, or Kasolo, or Chinkolobew, or Shainkolobwe, was a radium and uranium mine in the Haut-Katanga province of the DRC 20km west of Likasi.

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The mine produced uranium ore for the Manhattan Project.

Organisers say that “The Missing Link Event”, as a project initiated by the CCSSA since 2015, aims to “bring on the same page of the history of our humanity the complete figure of the disaster caused by the achievement of the atomic revolution”.

The movement says the event is a “unique space that will create the link between Shinkolobwe city in the DRC (where the precious and dangerous uranium used in the atomic bomb was extracted, irradiating humans as well as the environment); Los Alamos in the US (where the bomb was built under the Manhattan Project); New-Mexico region (where the bomb was tested, contaminating the environment) and Hiroshima- Nagasaki (the final destination of the bomb).

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Shinkolobwe was at the same time the origin of the dangerous raw material and the first victim of its voluntary massive radiation.

Under the theme “Human dignity beyond the techno- scientific progress”, the event is open to the public.

A panel including researchers, historians, activists and editorialists will help the audience make this journey from the unknown underground realities of Shinkolobwe to the well-documented catastrophe of Hiroshima-Nagasaki, with a projection to our common responsibility for a sustainable and inclusive progress.

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