The Congo’s role in creating the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was kept secret for decades, but the legacy of its involvement is still being felt today.
“The word Shinkolobwe fills me with grief and sorrow,” says Susan Williams, a historian at the UK Institute of Commonwealth Studies. “It’s not a happy word, it’s one I associate with terrible grief and suffering.”
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.
More than 7,500 miles away, on 6 August, bells will toll across Hiroshima, Japan, to mark 75 years since the atomic bomb fell on the city. Dignitaries and survivors will gather to remember those who died in the blast and resulting radioactive fallout. Thousands of lanterns carrying messages of peace will be set afloat on the Motoyasu River. Three days later, similar commemorations will be held in Nagasaki.
No such ceremony will take place in the DRC. Yet both nations are inextricably linked by the atomic bomb, the effects of which are still being felt to this day.
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