At the onset, The Widow series is just a story about a widow searching for a closure on the disappearance of her husband. Then, the series ends up being a masterpiece uncovering the complexity of human tragedies, civil wars, war crimes and genocides in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, and how Rwandan leaders, working with corrupt Congolese Army (FARDC) military generals, use these tragedies to loot Coltan from DRC and smuggle it into Rwanda.
Coltan is that mineral, critical in the production of every kind of electronic, including computers, mobile phones, refractive lenses for glasses, printers, semiconductors, hard drives, automobile electronics, jet engines, and many more products of utmost importance for today's world economy, military, and research. The increased importance of Coltan in electronics is one of the main drivers of the civil wars that started in Rwanda in 1990s and coincided with the rise of warlords, militias and armies in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, most of them funded, armed, trained, and reinforced by foreign armies, especially the Rwandan Patriotic Front army. These Rwandan backed warlords converted artisanal mining operations into slave labour regimes to earn hard currency to finance their militias. When much of eastern Congo came under the control of Rwandan forces in the 1990s, Rwanda suddenly became a major exporter of coltan, benefiting from the weakness and widespread corruption of the Congolese government.
The Widow series takes a stage in the African country of DRC, with its ramifications to Rwanda. From 1990, Rwanda was rocked by a bloody civil war that culminated in a genocide in 1994, following the assassination of the Rwandan president, when their plane was shot down by the now ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front army, according to several experts and witnesses.
The Widow series, as in the Rwandan tragedy, starts with a plane crash, which officially was due to mechanical failure, but in reality was due to a bomb, planted by a Congolese general, dealing in Coltan with agents based in Rwanda and using the charities and international organizations supposed to help the Congolese people. A widow from Europe travels to DRC to find out what happened to her husband, but then found that what on surface seemed a simple airplane accident, was a sinister coverup of terrorism, murders, war crimes, and national and international corruption, all driven and evolving around the key mineral: Coltan and its smuggling through Rwanda.
In fact, The Widow series evolves around the tragedies in the countries of DRC and Rwanda, driven by illegal Coltan mining and smuggling, child labor and child soldiers, corrupt governments, mercenaries, and corrupt agents within humanitarian agencies and organizations. What is an eye opening, actually an open secret for those closely following the events in the region, is that the on-going tragedy is planned, activated, supported, and fueled by the corrupt leaders of the DRC working with the Rwanda authorities and that Rwanda leaders are the main beneficiaries of the illegal Coltan trade. The not so "widow", from United Kingdom, is caught in the middle. She would find out once she gets into Ruhengeri, Rwanda and finds out what became of her presumed dead husband.
It is a story worth watching and learning from. Along with Black Earth Rising NetFlix series (see here), The Widow gives a good picture of the roots of what has been happening in the Great Lakes Region of Africa for the last 25 years, of the actors involved, and of how Coltan is the major fuel.
The Widow series is a co-production between Amazon Prime and ITV. It is available on Amazon Prime Video. Henry Williams is the Program Creator. Kate Beckinsale plays the widow. Babs Olusanmukon play the corrupt DRC general.