Monday, May 4, 2009


(double click to enlarge)

a raw diamond in Koindu

illicit diamond diggers in Koindu

looking for diamonds in Koindu

Early on volunteers were warned to stay away from diamonds, diamond dealers, and the industry in general.  There was unfortunately many a school boy who went off to the diamond areas to find his fortune - few ever did. There diamond areas were somewhat lawless - men left their villages, and in doing so their civic responsibilities in order to become rich. The Diamond Corporation was puzzlingly run by  foreigners or at least partially so. The market was in Europe or in America. The diamond mining was in alluvial surface mines and was in an area to our east and north. Kenema was the seat of the Diamond trade however.  Most of the diamond mining that I saw was illicit diamond diggers. The areas where they concentrated tended to resemble wild west towns of the gold rush in America. These towns were not safe.  Not all diggers were illicit - there were licensed diggers.  It was not unusual for a man to try and sell you a diamond but being the straight arrow that I was in those days I avoided any sellers. They tended to carry the diamonds in their mouth and might walk by you, stick out their tongues with a diamond there, and try to sell it to you.    Even in those days you could see how this industry was playing havoc with family life, with civility, and with the rural social structure. 

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