Blood diamonds in Africa

Blood Diamonds in Africa
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Blood Diamonds in Africa
The discovery of diamonds in a country was supposed to be a symbol of love, economic
and sociological growth. However, for many African countries, these precious stones have been
a curse rather than a blessing. The diamonds have fueled several conflicts in over seven countries
leading to civil wars, worker exploitation, and human suffering of unspeakable proportions
(Cleveland, 2014). These diamonds are known as blood or conflict diamonds. They are usually
produced in areas controlled by rebels, anti-government insurgencies or tyrants who mine the
precious stones and sell them to the international markets making huge profits that finance their
activities (Marchuk, 2009). They purchase various weapons and fund the military actions. As a
result, these diamonds have fueled civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (Cleveland, 2014). This paper describes the history of blood
diamonds in Africa using Todd Cleveland’s book, “The Stones of Contention: A History 0f
Africa’s Diamonds.”
Africa forms the greatest supplier of diamonds in the world. However, the discovery of
the precious stones in Africa ushered an era of unprecedented greed in which monopolistic
power arose to fuel conflicts in several African countries. At first, the discovery of diamonds in
Kimberly was in the late 1860s was a richness that awoke the area (Cleveland, 2014)). This led
to a sudden influx of foreigners and international capital. However, the inception of
discriminatory legislation and the combination of individual claims into larger corporations
pushed Africans to the margin eventually making them manual laborers in the mine fields.
Additionally, authoritarian dictatorship emerged to utilize the mineral resources and exploited
the indigenous workforce to mine the diamonds. The birth of the company De-Beers in South
Africa revolutionized the diamond industry. It enacted harsh labor policies exposing the workers
to violent and inhuman conditions leading to several deaths (Marchuk, 2009).
Mining was considered havoc as it resulted in the local population providing forced to
work with remuneration of low wages, in extremely dangerous and filthy environments
(Marchuk, 2009). The result of such working conditions was death related to respiratory tract
infections, mine fires, and even floods. In some countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and the
Democratic Republic of Congo, the money obtained from such diamonds bolstered oppressive
governments and rebels leading to bloodshed in the 1990s (Cleveland, 2014). Additionally,
various groups fought to control the diamond-rich territories with tragic results massive violation
of human rights, loss of lives and bloodshed thus the name blood diamonds. The civil war of
2013 in the Central African Republic saw two opposing sides fight to control the diamond
resources. In Angola’s extended war the war lasted for a longer period because the diamond
resources could sustain many fighting groups (Cleveland, 2014). This led to deaths of thousands,
use of children as soldiers, massive displacement of people, physical and emotional scars that
last to date. More recently, Charles Taylor from Liberia and Robert Mugabe used the diamonds
to enrich themselves and suppress their enemies (Marchuk, 2009).
However, Cleveland (2014) challenges the negative associations of conflict diamonds
with Africa in chapter 8 of his book using countries such as Namibia and Botswana. These
countries have used the diamonds to create stable states leading the instantaneous growth of the
economy. The diamonds in these countries and mined and sold under the supervision of the
government generating significant revenues to fund infrastructure projects and provide essential
services such as healthcare and education to the public. As a result, Cleveland (2014) suggests
that “the proper utilization of diamonds as with these countries offers hope to the African nations
that are still struggling to manage their diamond resources” (18). This will see the elimination of
blood diamonds from the face of African countries thus restore livelihoods and improve the
standards of living.
Also, the birth of the Kimberley certification process in the year 2003 is expected to bring
an end to the supply of blood diamonds in the world. The procedure entails an international
diamond certificate award scheme as an attempt of the industry to fight the trade of blood
diamonds. The process placed a ban on diamonds from rebel activities and war-torn countries. It
has improved corporate responsibility by stemming the supply of conflict diamonds in the
international markets. As a result of the dwindled market, the rebels are expected to stop their
activities due to lack of adequate finances. Therefore, Cleveland (2014) suggests that “the
Kimberly process is bound to ensure that diamonds are poised to play a decisive role in shaping
the future of African countries with the resource” (18). However, the Kimberley process fails to
address the atrocities committed against locals by such insurgents. When the workers suffer in
the hands of the mining companies, the process still certified these diamonds for sale in the
international market.
In conclusion, the African diamonds were real stones of contention as all the parties
involved- both locals and foreigners recognized their importance and fought to control them.
This resulted in the struggle against the oppression of the workers, deaths and untold bloodshed
in a by financing tyrants and rebel activities. However, the Kimberly process should help to turn
the precious diamond resources in Africa into wealth leading to economic growth and
Cleveland, T. (2014). Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (1st ed., pp. 15-
188). Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Marchuk, I. (2009). Confronting Blood Diamonds in Sierra Leone: The Trial of Charles Taylor.
Yale Journal Of International Affairs, 89-97. Retrieved from http://Confronting Blood
Diamonds in Sierra Leone: The Trial of Charles Taylor

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