John le Carré’s “The Mission Song”

I finished reading yesterday evening one of John le Carré’s latest books, “The Mission Song”. As in another recent book, “The Constant Gardner”, le Carré addresses situations of abuse and injustice in Africa. The plot, a kind of coup in Eastern DRC so as to allow the greedy exploitation of natural resources, looks very real and the story line – a polit thriller – is well designed and allows to enter into the mind of a person who undergoes a conversion. I am impressed by the end (those who fight with the destitute and marginalized, will end up marginalized themselves, sharing the fate of those people they fought with and defended).

Over the last years there is growing awareness of the illegal exploitation of natural resources in DRC as a source of oppression and war. Transnational corporations are increasingly forced into accepting codes of conduct (see for example the Kimberley process), but they often adhere only by mouth. Attempts to bring such corporations to court often fail as the situations are complex and intricate. It strikes me, however, and a novel like “The Mission Song” helps to raise this awareness, that in a way those of us who ask for those natural resources and are willing to pay the price for them (the price should be as low as possible, of course), stimulate some transnational corporations to do their worst. They want to profit, of course, and these kinds of profits should be questioned. But we should not forget that often their profits arise from a response to a demand coming from people who are willing to pay the price and close their eyes on what happens.

Are we amongst those people?


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