The Many Casualties Of Cobalt

I was born in a mine
Discovered by a child of nine
Chipping away in the dark, like 40,000 others
I watched their friends die in pain
As they dug, to sell and gain
Cobalt, like myself, to buy salt and flour

I’m blue in colour, like me there is no other, to give a long life to the phone in your hand
I’m traded on the highway, for a small amount of money, to then be shipped off to a foreign land

I was born in the Congo
My name, you will never know
I’m just another child, it don’t matter if I’m a boy or girl
I dig tunnels underground
There’s no schools here to be found
My sister looks in rivers for loose cobalt to sell

Nobody thinks to tell, of the most polluted areas in the world, we are in the top ten
My brother finds it hard to breathe, but to where can he leave, it’s not even a matter of when

I watch these kids breathe in dust
To earn their dollar a day is a must
What’s the bigger cost? Starvation or uranium poisoning
They were born without a chance
Between life and death they dance
Birth defects near the mines are just climbing

After years of studying, to be a doctor what am I witnessing, this isn’t normal, this is insanity
As some babies leave the womb, some are ready for the tomb, tomorrow, there could be an end to this reality

Don’t blame me I’m just a driver
I transport the cobalt to Tanzania
Where it gets shipped to a foreign country
Past the armed guards I drive
Where the supply chain isn’t denied
From the seaport to China all across the seas

I’m no different in anyway, I have to feed my family, a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do
I’m just a cog in a wheel, I don’t want to beg, borrow or steal, am I really any different from you?

Your phone wouldn’t be as good without me
I’m a lithium battery
And cobalt, lord knows it turns me on
I’ve revolutionized technology
Driverless cars are because of me
The Gold Rush in Silicon valley, I’m the reason

Yes I’m seen as green, unlike yesterday’s technology, with me, we’ll move past the days of gasoline
Thank me for small laptops, digital cameras and your watch, Apple, Tesla, Dell want me to sell the dream

We acknowledge there’s a few holes
In our supply chain and this we know
But we also have a duty to the shareholders
We’ve heard about child labour
Ethical sourcing is in our favour
We believe in equality all the way to the consumer

Our advertising on TV, the internet and before movies, creates a picture, one of seduction
We just buy the batteries, the buck doesn’t stop with our company, to look into this at some point is our intention

Look I just sell the phones everyday
In the Western world on minimum wage
I watch them salivate over the next release
Well my phone is everything to me
I can check Facebook, Instagram and take selfies
I want a million notifications in exchange for peace

I can talk to friends for hours, the batteries have so much power, I never leave home without it by my side
Of course I believe in equality, human rights are important to me, but my phone, this I will never be denied

I’m the Congo, a war torn country
I was once a Belgian colony
Companies plundered me then for rubber sap and elephant tusks
You see 50 years ago
I gained independence and so
I became attractive to foreign companies like Tesla, you know Elon Musk

I’m full of chaos, full of corruption, with a long history though of exploitation, I’m home to the conflict minerals you so badly need
I’m incredibly resource rich, in the world one of the least developed, and nobody seems to care when I bleed