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Bling: Consequences and Repercussions
Kanye West brought conflict diamonds to the attention of many with his video for Diamonds from Sierra Leone. Now, several films and documentaries look to further educate the hip hop generation about the murder and carnage caused by the world’s greed for diamonds.
Bling: Consequences and Repercussions
Little is known of Sierra Leone and how it connects to the diamonds we own.Kanye West, video for Diamonds from Sierra Leone
For many, rap music and bling seem to go hand in hand. Yet how many rappers and their young fans are aware of the human cost of bling? In his Diamonds from Sierra Leone video, Kanye West refers to conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds, mined by terrified civilians threatened by rebel forces in war zones, and traded for guns or cash to pay and feed soldiers.

In the war-torn Northern region of Sierra Leone, conflict diamonds were the focal point for a brutal and vicious civil war that resulted in forced amputations, human rights abuses and the displacement of the vast majority of Sierra Leone's rural population by the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group armed and financed by Liberia's infamous Charles Taylor. To maintain control of the diamond mines, the rebels chopped off the hands and feet of adults, teens, children and even infants. While the RUF terrorised and looted the countryside, thousands of prisoner-labourers, worked to exhaustion, digging up the gems from muddy open-pit mines. Many ended up in shallow graves, executed for suspected theft, for lack of production, or simply for sport. The international diamond industry's trading centres funded this horror by buying up to $125 million worth of diamonds a year from the RUF. Once diamonds are brought to market, their origin is difficult to trace and once polished, they can no longer be identified.

In addition, there are links between al-Qaeda and the illicit trade in conflict diamonds bought from rebels in West Africa. The vast sums of money and weapons exchanged in return for the precious stones have helped fuel some of the bloodiest civil wars in Africa.
A 17-year-old boy from Sierra Leone who lost both hands to rebels’ machetes
I think hip hop is obsessed with diamonds, they can’t go to the stage without diamonds.Jeweller David Shimanov, Kinetics of New York
Bling: Consequences and Repercussions tackles the issues behind hip hop’s obsession with diamonds and the continued illegal diamond trade in West Africa. Interviewees include David Shimanov, renowned jeweller whose A-list clientele includes some of hip hop’s most prominent rappers — 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, Fabolous and Juelz Santana, to name a few. Narrated by Hip Hop Legend Chuck D, Bling: Consequences and Repercussions will be released as a feature length documentary in the fall of 2007.
Diamonds are forever, it is often said. But lives are not. We must spare people the ordeal of war, mutilations and death for the sake of conflict diamonds. — Martin Chungong Ayafor, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Panel of Experts
Kanye West
In Bling: A Planet Rock, Jadakiss, Tego Calderon, Paul Wall and Kanye West travel to Sierra Leone to witness a nation destroyed by a decade long civil war that took over 100,000 lives and created a population of more than 200,000 amputees. The artists visit the Kono diamond mines and view the conditions of the miners, the majority of whom work for less than a dollar per day.
One of them said 'I thought those glasses were bling' and the other one said 'It's Kanye West, they'd have to be bling.' I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'm the anti-bling. Or that the word "bling" is so 1998. — Kanye West after meeting Princes William and Harry
I don't even believe in conflict diamonds. That's just a movie. Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out. Where was all that sh*t before the movie? That's the problem with people — they believe everything they read or see on TV. Unless you go to Sierra Leone and see what's going down, don't believe everything you're reading or see on TV. Trust me. If anything, there's conflict oil. Worry about the oil — you see what the oil is doing to people. You see what Bush is doing over there... oil is conflict. When you're driving your cars, you're driving conflict fuel. It's killing thousands of people a minute. Diamonds are the least of our worries. — Akon, rap star and proud owner of a diamond mine in South Africa
There are a lot of ways to demonstrate your faith. The true Christian witness is the love you show people that makes people wonder where you got that from, and you can tell them. A crucifix has become a fashion item worn by rap artists.Austen Ivereigh, Christian writer and journalist 50 Cent
Hip-hop is the most influential genre of music in the world and as an artist in hip-hop you have a responsibility to play a part and use the powers that God has blessed us with to go and do some good in the world. I just try to do what I can to make something positive around the world instead of the negative. I just took a trip to Africa. You know I just want to help make a difference out there. We are starting an organization in Sierra Leone to help the people out there who have no running water or electricity. I would encourage any jeweler to go out there and do some intensive research on where the diamonds you are buying to sell to the public are coming from and I did my fair share of homework to make sure I am not buying any conflict diamonds or supporting any form of illegal activity in the diamond trade. Even people are enslaved to mine those diamonds and we have done our homework to make sure that we are not buying any type of diamonds to encourage that at all. — Paul Wall
Paul Wall
Should rappers ditch the bling? Let me know what you think.
I think this is horrid, just like the still practiced FGM (female genital mutilation). Rappers should ditch the bling, knowing that our brothers and sisters (in the Lord) are dying out there just to decorate some ear lobes, necks, arms, teeth, etc. It is just absurd how this world is today. Let’s say NO to conflict diamonds, FGM, human trafficking, child labour, drugs, and any other contraband there is! But once again, this realistically will never end, it will just get worse, for the days are getting shorter and the Lord is at our doorstep. — Rosewood
I am a son of Sierra Leone and when the UN and the media turned their backs on the rapes/butchering/murders etc and said "Hey everyone let's all look at Kosovo aren't we great to help them," they left these poor people to their fate. I thank God for the Potter's House who invested in missionaries who preached in Sierra Leone during the war, hazarding their lives not for filthy lucre but for the Gospel. Because they risked their own lives, other lives were saved, from death, rape and mutilation. Victims found hope in a place where there was such hopelessness. I owe a great debt to you. However the other countries of the world were delighted to see Sierra Leonian diamonds and emeralds which are apparently of a better quality than South Africa's off the market as these countries had great investments in South Africa's regime. These rappers don't care about Africa. If they did they would tell these bloodstained jewels to go to hell! That's what they should do but we know it won't happen because the love of money is the root (door) to all kinds of evil. — Solomon
To do what's moral and honest they should ditch the bling but they won't. No one ever will. This day and age, all our generation cares about is looking like we got something we don't. Or maybe we do have something but we wanna show off in order to say "Hey look what I have an you don't." And what it all comes down to is having material items of dominance. We need these material items to be noticed by the opposite sex (or for some the same sex.) It's sad but it's true, we walk around buying "bling" fancy clothes etc, because we think people are thinking about us when actually the people we think are thinking about us are thinking about themselves and 50 years from now when we're old and gray we will realize nobody was thinking about us anyway. — Flaco
Saw the VH1 Bling documentary. What an eye opener. Those poor people. Living in America, one can be blinded by success. I know that many have been killed when attempting to flee. My heart goes out to the innocents that had the misfortune of being born there. I say successful people of the world need to get some effort to relieve their pain and suffering. — Jimmy T
You people are crazy! If everyone stops buying diamonds, then the people from Sierra Leone are gonna suffer immensely! Diamonds are their survival! The option that people need to take is to boycott 'blood diamonds' diamonds that are traded illegally — these are the places that encourage the conflicts, pain and suffering. Simply making sure that the diamond you are buying has come from a non-conflict area will make the conflict diamond areas go out of business! No pain! Please don't ditch the bling, just be smart and buy non-conflict diamonds. Use your brain and check out the details, by ditching diamonds completely your causing more pain and suffering to the Sierra Leoneans that are desperately trying to rebuild their lives! Help them find a brighter future, keep buying diamonds, but be smart about it, buy non-conflict diamonds and NOT blood diamonds! — Marissa
Rather than wearing and putting value into mined diamonds (conflict or otherwise), why not support cultured diamonds — they have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds, and are grown in the lab — without the conflict. Cultured diamonds are ethical! — Jennifer
It's a real shame when this isn't on CNN. Why is it that Hollywood provides more insight into the world than the 11 o'clock news? But you see grade school kids these days with huge cubic zirconia earrings and pendants. Famous people, rappers included, need to stop providing encouragement for outrageous, expensive apparel and various crap that they market. And parents are to blame for not seeing to it that their kids had good, worthwhile role models. Parents need to be parents, they need to quit buying sh*t for their kids and just spend time with them. There is this weird age barrier, that gets more pronounced now that baby-boomers are approaching retirement age. Kids are permitted to be immature longer, told that they can have things — not because they deserve them — but if they simply "behave". There are no firm rules anymore, and everyday you'll see parents trying to buy their kids' affection with material goods. People need to get their acts together, it's not about the stuff you have. It's about the people who you love and who love you. A family photograph from ten years ago is worth more than any diamond. — Chris
Everyone exploits Africa. Nobody can stand back and say "Oh I'm innocent, I don't buy diamonds" — they still buy oil don't they. What I've never understood is aren't American hip hop artists/rappers supposed to be proud of their African roots — aren't they exploiting their so called brothers as much as the next person. With their wealth and fame they could bring attention to any African cause and really make a difference. — Catherine
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Clarkyboy's Choice
Bling: A Planet Rock Bling: A Planet Rock
You might have spent thousands on the diamond you're blingin'... but do you know how much it really costs? In this riveting, unforgettable film, hip-hop celebrities Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Paul Wall and Tego Calderon travel to war-torn Sierra Leone, West Africa, and come face to face with the victims of the blood diamond industry so deeply entwined in hip-hop. The filmmakers explore the cultural significance of diamond jewelry in hip-hop and trace its evolution from early '80s old-school ghetto culture to the bling-encrusted billion-dollar industry it is today. Featuring Ishmael Beah, best-selling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier and interviews with Kanye West, Big Daddy Kane, Jadakiss and Mr. T, Bling is without question one of the most powerful films you will ever see.
USA UK Canada
Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stone Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stone
Greg Campbell looks at the dark side of the glittering image of diamonds as he explores the significance of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, the West African country formed by the British to reward African American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolution. He recounts the horrors of this war-torn nation, with child-soldiers and deranged adults who have cut off the hands and elbows of innocents or even removed fetuses from pregnant women via machete. The underlying motivation for the violence and strife of Sierra Leone is centred in the diamond trade, much of it illegal smuggling sanctioned by the cartel DeBeers. The trade has earned the name "blood diamonds" and has financed conflicts and rebellions around the world, including the al-Qaeda network. Campbell notes that this same illegal diamond trading that has wrecked Sierra Leone may provide the basis for hope as the West is compelled to address the tragic circumstances of this war-torn nation.
USA UK Canada
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Ishmael Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army — in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the US.
USA UK Canada
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Blood Diamond Blood Diamond
Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) — an ex Mercenary from Zimbabwe — and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) — a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon — who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields — has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.
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