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Africa's Resources in African Hands

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By Penny Hess, Chair
African People’s Solidarity Committee

The true story of diamonds

Most of us blithely take for granted the resources available to us in our daily lives. We don’t give much thought to the brutality and suffering it takes to extract those resources for our use at the expense of the people to whom they belong.

Even as the U.S. war against the Iraqi people rages on, we continue to mindlessly pump gas into our cars without thinking of the deadly violence in the Middle East being waged so that the American people can continue to use all the oil we want.

The same holds true for diamonds, the glittering rocks of crystallized carbon worn by millions.

Long revered as rare, benign gems symbolizing the ideals of beauty and everlasting love, diamonds are the desired gift for engagements, anniversaries, graduations, or simply as an expression of love. Diamonds are thought to be the makings of heirlooms, something to pass down from generation to generation with ever appreciating value.

These myths about the diamond trade, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a look into the reality of diamonds and the real price of this seemingly innocent stone for millions of African people and others who live on the other end of the equation.

Perhaps these facts about the diamond trade can help open our eyes to the deeper reality of an entire social system built on violence, slavery, genocide and the degradation of others in order to create a generous lifestyle for us, the white people.

Maybe we can begin to wake up to the fact that nothing in our daily lives is innocent or exempt from the bloodshed and terror necessary for conquest. Not, for example, our cell phones and computers that require the mineral coltan from the Congo, where 5 million people have been slaughtered since 1998 in U.S.-backed coltan wars.

Not even our food, colleges, gas, electricity, water, banks, running shoes, or housing. Everything on this land stolen from the indigenous people, in an economy built on African slavery and colonialism around the world, has an ugly story just under the surface.

The story of diamonds is just one of them.

Next page: Certified diamonds are blood diamonds too!