Hello friends. We thought it was time to give you an update on all the happenings at Congo Calling. We have been very busy making progress on all sorts of fronts. It is not possible to share everything until it comes to fruition, but we hope the following gives you a flavour.
On 13th February, the Royal Africa Society and Frontline hosted a meeting for Congo Connect, a relatively new organisation. Their vision is to connect together those organisations working to highlight and ameliorate the suffering of people in the Congo was presented. They want to establish a coalition of organisations to increase the impact of their work. Bandi attended and shared Congo Calling’s vision about empowering people globally to demand conflict-free minerals in the new technologies we purchase. He made some excellent connections at the event – more about these as and when they come to fruition.
House of Lords
Bandi was personally invited by Lord John Alderdice to an evening of dialogue at the House of Lords on 5th February, where the key speakers were Jo Berry and Pat Magee. The event has helped establish some important links for our future parliamentary campaign work. It grew out of an event hosted by Building Bridges about justice and forgiveness, which Bandi attended in January. The event explored the role of forgiveness in moving beyond a cycle of violence.
Also on the subject of parliamentary links, we were very excited to see Vince Cable’s grandson longlisted for a children’s photojournalism prize for his work on “blood phones”, inspired by Congo Calling.
A very exciting link has been made with Facebook, which is offering Congo Calling a package of support to help with the campaign. This came out of a contact Bandi made when speaking at Campus Party in August 2012. He was invited to speak to a group of Facebook employees in London, and as a result Facebook has made some very generous offers. Some of their technical staff have already provided time to support Congo Calling in establishing the campaign and raising its profile, which includes promotion on Facebook of a series of articles.
A number of universities in the UK are interested in becoming conflict-free. Georgia Potton (Exeter University) and Bennett Collins (University of St Andrews) have agreed to coordinate responses to members of other universities interested in setting up conflict-free campus initiatives.
Exeter: The Business School and the Camborne School of Mines are both putting on modules that are looking at issues around conflict minerals, and Bandi has been invited to lecture on both modules, exploring corporate social responsibility and responsible mining practices. In addition, one of Exeter University’s Grand Challenges to their first year students is around the costs and benefits of mineral wealth. Bandi’s TEDxExeter talk initiated this work, and again he has spoken to students taking up this challenge.
The Be The Change student society is focusing on Congo and has taken on a campaign to make the university a conflict-free campus. It held a week of events focusing attention on The Congo from 11 to 15 March. The Students’ Guild has signed up to be conflict-free (the first guild in England to do so). The University of Exeter has officially joined the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative after much lobbying from Be The Change and the Students’ Guild.
School of Oriental and African Studies: SOAS students are in the early stages of putting together a conflict-free campus campaign and Bandi is in discussions with those trying to get this work off the ground.
Warwick: Bandi launched the work of a student group focusing on the Congo, and they are exploring whether a campaign for a conflict-free campus is something they want to pursue.
St Andrews: St Andrews students have already succeeded in their campaign to make their university a conflict-free campus. They have organised a conference for 19-20 April focusing on Eastern DRC, and have invited Bandi to speak.