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Blood Diamonds

            For ages human beings have placed great value in relatively useless gems and knickknack items, whether they are expensive stones or minerals, have relatively little value other than their visual attraction, as well as their scarcity. Of these metals and stones the diamond has been the center of individuals in the modern era; these small, carbon pieces have been valued for the beauty, and for their supposed rarity. Humans have looked far and wide for gems that could be collected and turned into jewelry. However, diamonds, rather than helping the growth of many African nations have only served to be a foundation of conflict instead. Companies such as De Beers and others have contributed to the death and destruction caused in many parts of Africa, in particular Sierra Leone, Angola, and Republic of Congo. These countries continue to suffer the effects of civil war which are funded through diamonds. Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo being big producers, sparking international concern that diamonds are being traded illegally to fund civil wars in Africa. Diamonds obtained from regions in the midst of internal strife, have led to the deaths of more than half a million people. .
             Significant diamond production began after an agreement was completed with De Beers" Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST) in 1935. This agreement gave De Beers sole mining and prospecting rights over the entire country for 99 years. However, people in Sierra Leone found this agreement to be unacceptable. In 1955 the colonial authorities scrapped SLST's national monopoly and instead focused on the Yengema and Tongo field which covered an area of about 450 square miles. In 1956, they introduced the Alluvial Mining Scheme, under which both mining and buying licenses were granted to indigenous miners. Many of these licenses came to be held by Lebanese traders who had begun to settle in Sierra Leone at the turn of the century.

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