Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been linked to human rights abuses, as well as child labour. Many children working in mines say they are physically and sexually abused. They’re forced to mine cobalt, a metal used to make telephones and computers.
Now, in a landmark lawsuit, a non-profit organisation is accusing five of the world’s largest tech companies of exploiting child labour and being complicit in the deaths of some.
DRC national, Daniel Moleka, owner of RedThread Apparel X, who conceptualised his Beni fashion collection to raise awareness of the high cost of cobalt mining that many children in the DRC are paying, says, “Considering that the DRC is my home country, it’s a subject that’s really close to my heart and I feel emotionally attached to it, especially considering all the innocent women and children who are dying on a daily basis so we can basically have our technological advancement. It’s almost as though we consider technological advancement more important than human life. That’s why I want to use the medium of fashion to raise awareness of this scourge.
“I am in the fortunate position to be financially backed by the Widal Foundation which was founded in September 2018 by the Honourable Senator Guy Loando Mboyo and his wife, Deborah Linda Loando.
The Foundation aims to reduce poverty, promote excellence and the development of the province of Tshuapa, as well as the conditions of social life of the Congolese people.
Daniel has chosen to collaborate with Fedisa student and designer, Emily Symmonds, who will work with him to raise awareness of cobalt mining in Beni in the DRC.
She says, “When I was approached by Daniel to be involved in the Beni Collection, I was captivated right from the start. The purpose of the collection – to raise awareness of the current crisis in Beni – enthralled me. I strongly believe that fashion can be a strong tool in starting conversations about current issues and bringing the issue the attention it deserves. As a young, creative fashion student, I am honoured to collaborate with such a unique and forward-thinking brand as RedThread Apparel X. I feel incredibly inspired by what they are doing with their garments going above and beyond the pure aesthetics of clothing and creating a conversation.”
The theme of the Beni Collection is Love (teaching how to love) and once it is finished, Daniel and Emily will host an event in the form of a showroom where they will showcase the collection to the public and discuss the plight many women and children are facing in the cobalt mines of the DRC.
RedThread Apparel X showcased their Anime World Collection at SA Menswear Week on 8 February in Cape Town.
More information is available on www.redthreadapparelx.co.za and
the full gallery can be viewed on https://www.instagram.com/redthread_apparel_/?hl=en