The Force Publique of Lithium-ion Batteries

By | 15 February 2023

‘For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches.’
— Patrice Lumumba

Then, our eldest cousin counseled us;
the small children —

The dried apricots,
aren’t apricots at all,
they are the ears of orphans,
See here

proof, his henna-stained fingers traced
the helix’s half-fold

they sell their ears

our protests

we don’t want to eat
the ears of children


our eldest cousin warned

you must,
otherwise they bled for nothing
and the demand for apricots
will dry up
then what will they sell?

pushing apricots our Eucharist,
into holy cherub mouths saving us lowly third sphere angels

tongues dancing over downy hairs,
chewing over sweet-sour rubber lambs blood.

Now, I cut apricot halves
forming sunrise mandalas on parchment,

pressing my fingerprints into their candied skin,
playing knuckles with their stones,

they’re browning in my kiln
and I’m telling my own children —

these are not apricots at all
they are the ears of small children

and when they cry
they don’t want to eat the sweetmeats

I say

You must
otherwise, what will they sell?

During Belgian’s colonial rule of the ‘Congo Free State’ the Force Publique military were responsible for enforcing rubber quotas.
Severed hands became a currency for shortfalls in rubber. It’s been estimated that 10 million people died during this forgotten Holocaust.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt—an essential ingredient in Lithium-ion rechargeable
batteries, such as the ones used in our smartphones, laptops and electric cars. The DRC cobalt mines have been rife with human rights
abuses, including child labour, as detailed in The Washington Post article The Cobalt Pipeline by Todd C. Frankel.

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