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.
is known of Sierra Leone and how it connects to the diamonds
West, video for Diamonds from Sierra Leone
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.
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.
17-year-old boy from Sierra Leone who lost both hands to rebels’
think hip hop is obsessed with diamonds, they can’t
go to the stage without diamonds.
David Shimanov, Kinetics of New York
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Ivereigh, Christian writer and journalist
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
rappers ditch the bling? Let me know what you think.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
||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
||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
Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most
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.
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.
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
he brought us Jesus Walks; then college dropout Kanye West
courted controversy by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone
magazine as Jesus Christ himself. Is Kanye making a point
by portraying himself as a black Jesus?
Passion of Kanye West
violence seems to follow the rapper 50 Cent, who has himself
been shot nine times, and always wears a bulletproof vest.
Now it's claimed that 'Fiddy' makes a profit out of the misery
of parents who are burying their children.
50 Cent Bulletproof?: Rap Music and Violence