Thesis: Blood Diamonds of South Africa

Pages: 5 (1663 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African  ·  Buy This Paper

Blood Diamonds of South Africa

The African continent is notorious for the valuable resources that it contains underneath the earth's surface and numerous controversies have appeared as a result of people exploiting its riches in unorthodox ways. There are several African countries that have unstable leaderships as civil wars are common sight in the respective countries. Millions of Africans have suffered because of the wars that have been going on for decades now. The resources that the military needs in order to lead such wars is financed from the illegal sale of diamonds. As South Africa is one of the world's largest sources of diamonds, it had been easy for some to exploit the resources in order to fund immoral wars.

When thinking about diamonds, one would most certainly relate to a life lived in luxury, to love, and, to the joy brought by receiving a diamond as a gift. However, diamonds also have a dark side related to them and to their exploitation by evil people. Diamonds are the main money source funding numerous wars on the African continent and not only. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost with the weaponry bought with money made from the selling of diamonds.

South Africa is currently in charge of producing approximately 60% of the diamonds being legally sold worldwide. Because of the large number of diamonds present in the country, officials are aware of the fact that illegal diamonds present a threat to the well-being of legal diamond sale. (Jon Masin-Peters, 2003)

De Beers Mining Company is the biggest diamond firm in South Africa, and, as it grew stronger and increased its production, they managed to keep diamond prices up. Because of several rumors claiming that illegal diamonds are being smuggled through De Beers, the Company has decided to verify its diamonds that they don't come from a conflict region. However, they discovered that it is extremely hard to locate the exact location from where a certain diamond has been mined. A new process had been invented to insure the production of legal diamonds under the leadership of De Beers. The Kimberley process has been named after the town that served as the headquarters of De Beers during the nineteen century. Some believe that even the diamonds holding the Kimberley certification had been involved in the blood diamond trade. (Lindsay Weiss)

De Beers came up with the Kimberley process because they did not want people associating their name with the production of illegal diamonds coming from conflict areas. De Beers suffered great losses because of the discovery of diamond resources in several African countries which had chaotic leaderships. As freelancers took opportunity in creating mining fields in the respective countries, the world diamond market started to lose from the coming of smuggled diamonds. (Eric Johnson 2002)

The situations in Angola and in The Democratic Republic of Congo made it possible for smuggled diamonds to be bought by De Beers diamond buyers. Both countries have a state of crisis, and, guerrilla armies have captured most diamond fields present on the territories. The fact that the illegal diamonds did not all came to De Beers meant that diamonds had been taken to other diamond companies. Also, this meant that the market would suffer as a consequence of large amounts of diamonds appearing throughout the world. Most countries involved in the combating situations in certain African countries in a state of crisis have been reported to export diamonds, even if they did not have any diamond mines within their borders.

Sierra Leone is also a country from which diamonds are being smuggled onto the market. This occurs even if several mining companies control most of the mining fields in Sierra Leone. Because the Sierra Leone government is not concentrating in keeping illicit activities off its territories, the diamond smuggle is flourishing in the country.

The rebel army created during the Sierra Leone civil war fought the government for several years, without any of the belligerent sides wanting to surrender. People were fighting in order to gain control of the diamond fields present in the country. The leaders of the rebel army had their funds coming from the illegal sell of diamonds. Thus, they had been aware that their only chance of having success in their mission had been to keep the diamond fields.

There have been several instances in which the Sierra Leone government and the rebel army decided to put their weapons aside and declare peace. However, peace was never installed on the territory, and the government has been fighting the Revolutionary United Front to this day.

In an attempt to stop diamonds being bought from illegal sources, the UN had decided to ban all diamonds coming from non-governmental sources in Sierra Leone. The Kimberley process is also contributing in keeping smuggled diamonds of the market. The U.S. has also devised a process similar to the Kimberly one called the Clean Diamond Act. The act implies buyers refraining from buying any kind of diamond which comes from an unknown source. In spite of the issues existing with the smuggling of diamonds, De Beers officials are not willing to put great efforts in preventing illegal diamonds from being sold because the quantities of smuggled diamonds are insignificant when compared to the worldwide sale of diamonds which have a clean background. One of the main concerns that De Beers has concerning diamond smuggling is that its leaders fear that the company's image might be affected by people learning that illegal diamonds are funding the execution of innocent people in African countries.

Even if De Beers has been considered to be an important company lasting through time, some sources still relate to the blood spilled in order to mine the diamonds. Slavery had been abolished in the U.S. For a long time, but De Beers had been reported of still exploiting black people as slaves during the twentieth century. The diamond production that lasted from the half of the century and until the 1990s is connected to the immoral Apartheid system functioning during the period.

The South African black people were obliged to work in diamond mines in conditions which were subhuman. Despite they had been mining their own lands, only a few pennies were given to the workers in exchange of their work. Black people did not have all the privileges that whites have, and, even when they made strikes to ask for better working conditions, they were rapidly silenced by the white African leaders. (Davey D. 2006)

The Apartheid is considered to be one of the worst periods from South Africa history, with some sources comparing the atrocities happening during those times with those committed during the Holocaust. (Davey D. 2006)

A great number of movies, books, and articles have been written relating to the subject of illegal diamonds and their sale. Most writings refer to the conditions in which the diamonds are being mined. Workers have to work in unimaginable conditions, with their health being put to test as they subject their lungs to situations which cause awful diseases or even death. De Beers officials constantly try to defend their image in the eyes of the public. Directors and writers threaten the well-being of the company as they release works where everything related to diamonds and their production is being presented. After the appearance of several reports claiming that the workers in De Beers mines are frequently exposed to asbestos dust, the company denied all allegations and it refused to allow the medical records of its employees to be verified. According to Janine Roberts, not even the employees knew about their medical condition, as medics working at De Beers refrained from reporting any kind of disease caused by the working conditions. Plentiful miners from De Beers have retired at an early… [END OF PREVIEW]

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