Diamonds: a lesson in mythmaking

Publié le par hort

 
AFRICAN DIAMONDS
Jewish /European Business
Patterns of Inequality

In this essay, the writer would outline how African diamonds from Namibia. South-Africa, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Angola and Congo is owned, mined, stockpiled or sold, cut and retailed, without the majority of Africans, in the countries mentioned enjoying any economic or social benefits. In addition, the World Diamond Congress born around 1947, has no African representatives on it's governing body.  How did the concentration of ownership of African wealth end up in the hands of the Jewish community predominantly?
 
 What about the myths created by the diamond industrialist? All lies created to keep the price of diamonds high whilst keeping the cost of production low.  One could even argue that, diamond mining is a low paid, non-unionised job with practically no adherence to health and safety laws. Whilst everybody else is making a killing, those governments are not receiving any taxes- One could actually conclude-it is one of the greatest scams with a multitude of African tragedies e.g. Mbuyi Mayi, a diamond centre in the Congo has a population on 1 million residents , no access to health care as there are no state hospitals, limited power supplies and very few communications lines to the outside world. Same conditions could be found in Luderitz-another mining town in Namibia. But there is more. How did all this begin?
 
History
 
Cecil Rhodes set up a company De Beers (Name of the Boer landowner, where the first diamond was found 1867), in South-Africa in 1888. The farmer was actually illegally occupying Griqualand. By 1893. Rhodes had begun excluding everybody else from the diamond selling business. How? By giving the contract to 10 Jewish firms in London, to sell African gems. These are the firms:- Wernher, Beit& Co Brother, Mosenthal Sons & Company, A. Dunkelsbuhler, Joseph Brothers, I Cohen Compnay, Martin Lilienfield and Company.  F.F Gervers, S. Neumann and Feldheimen Company. Rhodes gave them boast and an advantage which, they maintain up to the present.
 
 Afterwards forming the World Diamond Congress which, meets bi-annually since it's inception in 1947. During the 16th century in Europe, jews were excluded from most activities except 2. 1) Cutting and polishing stones. 2) Lending money. The activities co-depended on one another. When people failed to repay money, jewels were used as repayment, which were then re-sold and invested into business sectors. E.g. Once Portugal began their navigational adventures to Goa, jewish merchants started paying sailors to buy diamonds directly from Indian miners, on their behalf. Portugal became the diamond port until the Catholic Inquisitions forced Jews to move out and upwards to Antwerp-Catholic dominated Southern Netherlands then-now in modern Belgium since 1830. The community continued re-investing their money/profits from the diamond trade into companies such as the Dutch East India Company.
 
This is the same company on it's many pit stops, landed in the Western Cape and stayed there from 1652-1814, when the British bought the Cape for £6,000,00. This area was mainly used for providing the refreshment and sexual needs of sailors on their way from The East Indies to Europe. Epstein J.E- (2982)-The Investigation So that when it came to responding to the DE Beers Diamond mining and selling monopoly, they used the oldest activity-They United themselves into a syndicate, and then, bought large amounts of stocks and shares in the companies. The leader in this deal was A Dunkelsbuhler. This company hired a young german jewish apprentice. He started off sorting and classifying diamonds. He ended up managing that business in  London. But Dunkelsbuhler wanted more control than it already had as part of an exclusive, powerful and secretive operation. They sent their main man- Ernest Oppenheimer who together with his family members from 1900 until the present see African diamonds as their personal belonging. The Africans's role is about digging diamonds.
 
Creating and maintaining myths about Diamonds.
 
Around 1930's, there was concern about the decline in prices world-wide especially De Beers bankers Morgan Bank-now Morgan Stanley. It was Morgan bank,which recommended the Lauck and N,W Ayers a top raking advertising agency in the  USA to Harry Oppenheimer. Slogans -" A diamond is forever" and "diamonds are a girl's best friend as sung by Marilyn Munroe" became embedded in languages world-wide. Even Japanese women who did not traditionally use diamond engagement rings in their courtship and marriage arrangements, were sucked into the diamond myth. Oppenheimer wanted a changed image for diamonds to more accessible to American working class people. It made economic sense since  America was the largest capitalist country. Diamonds has to be linked with love and romance. The larger the diamond meant a greater expression of the emotions.  De Beers continues to sanitize and glamourize the industry by using royalty and rich people for their own ends. De Beers gave Kylie Monogue a large solitaire pendant, which she has seen in many of her videos.
 
J.K Rowling wore diamond drop earrings at one of the many Hary Potter premires. We cannot exclude Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, Liza Minelli. Caroline Herrera, Paloma Picasso,Lee Anneberg and the British Royalty. Roberts Janine (2003)  The British Royal Family was used to hike the prices by simply wearing diamonds. Queen Elizabeth returned the "favour" by visiting De Beers mines during a well publicized trip to  South Africa. Besides the "crown jewels-African jewels", The Queen owns the following. 14 Tiaras, 46 necklaces, 98 broaches and 37 bracelets. Even during the war, it was suggested that," the Queen has a patriotic duty to wear diamonds". What kind of human being would publicly utter such an inappropriate statement in the middle of a war? This is 1940, when many soldiers and civilians were losing their lives in World War 2. Many families in  Europe were forced to live on food rations and under curfews. Answer- somewhat of a cold, calculating, uncaring, unfeeling and emotionally distant character, parading as a human.  The book- Diamonds Famous and Fatal: The History, mystery & Lore of the world's most precious gem by Leo P Kendall presents the industry as a very law abiding and playing by all the rules laid down kind of operation. There are no victims, tragedies, no racism, no greed, no sabotage and no deaths of any kind. This book never reveals the facts. It seems to have lost it's way in the spin.
 
The Reality of the Diamond Industry
 
Namibia
Most workers get 1,300 Nrands= £130. Those are the one who are unionised. Their families live in abject poverty in real hovels without access to pipe-borne water/electricity and universal free health care and education up to secondary level.  The miners must remain in enclosed compounds with the minimal facilities. Let's put it another-if you had an animal you loved, you would not treat it like how the mining companies treat these African miners. Grown men with families are forced to share bunk beds-like children, without mattresses. There is no respect for elder workers. They are separated from their families for months on end. They are X-rayed without their consent. They are exposed to more dangers than the white workers. Last but not least-they are feed with alcohol like the winery owners do with their workers in the wine business. There are few recreational facilities in the compound except alcohol.
 
 These workers always have to deal with the Diamond Protection Unit on a daily basis. Companies being and sold without their knowledge. But, the racist conditions under which these people work, go unchecked and unchallenged by either government or union. People do hazardous jobs without any insurance cover. When they die in the mines-their families receive nothing. One worker at the Western Holdings Min complained in 1976," We live like animals in the compounds without our wives…the life we lead is worse than slavery of the life of a beast of burden". When the company in question, was told the cost of improving the native Africans accommodation would be equivalent to 1/4 of a year's profits- they never bothered to carry out the renovations. So, the European workers continue to receive preferential treatment. So, no adherence to Equal Opportunities either, which seem to be above the South African/Namibian laws.
 
 SWAPO came to power, the management structure has remained the same i.e all white. Despite all these human rights abuse taking place since 1900's up to the present, De Beers and it's fellow mining companies seems almost above the law. Stellenbosch University-a top Afrikaner University created a new chair in honour of Harry Oppenheimer called-The Harry Oppenheimer Chair for the study of Human rights-is this sick joke or what? The European and Coloureds view the native Africans as "trash". All the resources are meant for their minority. Lands which were stolen prior to 1994 have not been returned to it's lawful native African owners.  Colonial mining deals struck with mining companies have been honoured instead of being dishonoured. Even beaches which, belong to the people now belong to De Beers-Surely this is illegal? Isn't it? Surely, if someone did not sign a contract-they should be honouring said contract.
 
Wrong or Right.
 
Diamonds can now be made in a laboratory with the tight chemical ingredients. Apparently this was being done as early as 1880. Then, in 1953 and 1955 General Electric carried on making diamonds using a simple oxyacetylene torch and some bottles of gas - i.e methane gas.   The story goes that De Beers quietly formed another company on the  Isle of Man to manufacture diamonds. Apparently, as long as the substance contains carbon-it can produce a diamond. Another scientist also discovered that," passing microwaves through a mixture of methane and hydrogen= diamonds. Roberts J (2003)
 
What other industries need diamonds?
 
The arms industry needs diamonds for the following purposes-: Airplane engines, torpedoes, tanks, artillery and other weapons of war. Diamonds are also needed for making radars and other electronics of war. Stabilisers, gyroscopes and guidance systems for submarines and planes needs jewelled bearings. They can be used to make the super-hard missile cone or super-hard optical glass for spacecraft instruments. Can you imagine how powerful the Oppenheimers / DE Beers felt realising the millions of trump cards they held. They could and actually use that power, at a time when  USA really, really needed supplies, to feed their weapons factories. One cannot forget Hitler as, Germany needed their diamond supplies as well. This information can be found in chapter 7- Diamonds for Hitler- Roberts J (2003). See Chapter 9; Diamonds for Hitler- The Investigations by Edward J Epstein internet site-The secret war report of the  OSS.
 
The World Diamond Congress
 
It was formed in 1947 and has held bi-annual meetings ever since. There are no African Representatives at WDC either. All the members are from non-diamond producing countries. Basically, it is likely that 5 of the six members are Jews plus one non-jewish. Members listed from their website include Eli Izhakoff, Matthew a Runci, William E Boyajian, Peter Meeus and Zvi Shur.  This is not a democratic or transparent organisation either. They talk in riddles most of the time. They never mention terms and conditions of labour, or the tactics used to cheat various African countries of taxes from their own mineral resources, racism, holding millions of Africans to ransom. This organisation and the mining companies continue to look after their interest-profit making margins. If 200 or so Africans die directly to unsafe conditions-well tough!
 
 If families in Mbuyi Mayi and Luderitz die from preventable diseases and or live with high levels of alcoholism among parents or they have no access to free schools and an acceptable quality of life or access to affordable treatment and fair wages-then tough. It is actually quite patronising when people like USA democratic senator come up with meaningless remarks like," the diamond- a symbol of love in America (world-wide)-should not be paid for by the blood of Africans"  Wake up Mr Senator- Africans have been paying with their lives for the enrichment of De Beers/the Oppenheimer/The Rupperts and the other respectable business people. Wake up Mr Senator- this method is over 400 years old. De Beers/ Oppenheimers/ The Rupperts Trivalence-Asian Canadian mining company in Guinea are new comers to this method.
 
The stealing of African resources for the! building of Europe and providing work for Europeans and Asians is not a new thing. It is called capitalism! The transformation of African resources into wealth and power for everybody else except the Africans is quite common Mr Dick Durbins-Democratic senator. Do not forget that, all your civil servants based in Africa had to do was mention the word " he might be a communist"- your embassies and your other " officials" would be helping the other side,to get rid of often times elected leaders. If the elected leader does not want to go, then you either get him murdered or fund wars, to deny people their just revolution eg Angola.
 
Stop being a hypocrite now! Eli Izhakoff, chairman of WDC had this very fine sounding hope of his industry when he said," we are committed to enactment of strong legislation that will help establish an international system to ensure that, only legitimate diamonds are traded. In addition, he said," our goal is to stop the abhorrent practices of rebel movements in Africa that use illegal diamond sales to finance their insurgencies". Perhaps, he conveniently forgot to add that, De Beers dumped all the "conflict diamonds"  on the USA. Perhaps, he is not aware that, Mobutu and his family normally came to the mines to select their share of the diamonds, which they sold in Antwerpen to "those ask no questions buyers. It smells of public relations exercise rather than, a real plan to carry out in-depth in house cleaning.
 
United Nations reports in 2001 implicated conflict diamonds also heading for Tel-Aviv. Congolese, Sierra Leone and Angolans diamonds were leaving in Israeli planes piloted by former air force pilots. In exchange for diamonds, they sellers would receive weapons, training and hard currency. These conflict were the sold at the Ramat Gan Diamond Centre. UNITA managed to keep their civil war going by selling their "conflict diamonds" to De Beers via DeBeers for 6 years between 1992-1998 through De Beers buyers-whatever that means. Unita made $4 billion. UNITA carried on the terror on unarmed civilian targets, with the sale of diamonds totalling $100 milioin-the people's birthright ended up being made into jewels for American consumption. Whist Angolans are without free education, universal health care or access to free medicines and pipe-borne water.
 
Conclusion
 
The moral of this very tragic story for the diamond producing African nations is quite simple. Unite! Demand reparation from De Beers and all their companies registered in places like Bermuda, Leichenstein, Luxembourg and Panama and in Liberia. Naivety is a hindrance to conquering that great Octopus De Beers/The Oppenheimers. How can it be that, the government and the 1.5 million people are being ransom by one family? Mathematics tells me it is near impossible. It could very well be that, Namibia government does think researching and keeping tabs on De Beers is either urgent or necessary. It is okay for an agent De Beer to be stealing from the country, without the owners asking questions.  Why are Namibian diamonds leaving the mines in armoured cars and vans, without government official knowledge?  Why is the government allowing De Beers to practise and exploitation? What the ANC and SWAPO and 4 other African governments do not want to entertain is this, 6 governments and their 83 million populations can surely get rid of this one family. Come on now Africans-you can do it!

from: king_ogie25@yahoo.com
 

Diamonds: Africa must get lion's share


By Isdore Guvamombe
The Herald
May 29, 2007

RECENTLY, diamond producing countries, mainly in Sadc, met in Luanda, Angola, under the auspices of the newly-formed African Diamond Producers' Association (Adpa) to establish a policy that should see the countries become masters and shapers of their own economic destiny on the world diamond market.

The diamond is regarded as the world's strongest mineral used both for industrial and commercial purposes and it continues to fetch high prices on the world market. According to De Beers, the world diamond industry is currently valued at US$10 billion, with Africa producing 60 percent of the world's diamonds.This is why Africa must be the main factor in influencing the prices.

There is no doubt that, years after gaining political independence, Sadc countries are mindful of the need to end the foreign stranglehold on the precious stone by introducing effective strategies and policies that are aimed at devolving sovereignty and recovering lost revenue for each member state.As many as 12 African diamond producing countries, mainly in Southern Africa, formed the association, that is headquartered in Luanda, Angola, to influence the world diamond market.Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Central Africa Republic and South Africa have sent a clear message that the time has come for them to influence the marketing and pricing of their mineral product.

They now need the lion's share.

The countries have also sought knowledge and co-operation of the Kimberly process.

This is a clear sign that Africa is rising from the ashes of mineral exploitation to self-determination against monopolistic Eurocentric companies like De Beers, Anglo-American and Rio Tinto.Since colonial times, the Anglo-Saxons, through De Beers and Rio Tinto have, like moles, dug an array of tunnels through African soils for diamonds, mostly for the benefit of their kith and kin in Europe.

Ironically Africa, which produces about 60 percent of the world's diamonds, has been receiving crumbs from the periphery of the market yet the mineral was being extracted from its soil using Africans as cheap labour.The move to control diamond trade by African countries should be taken seriously by all governments on the continent as a major step towards fair deals and fair trade, that is mutually beneficial. African countries must insist on benefiting through local cutting and polishing of diamonds and jewellery production to generate more employment for the people.

African countries are certainly moving fast to become masters of their own economic destiny and fair play companies from Russia, China and others from the Far East should also be given a chance to clinch deals with diamond producing companies in Africa in general and Sadc in particular. This will broaden the market.

Since the Zimbabwean diamond fields are expected to produce 15,5 million tonnes of diamonds, it is worthwhile trying new partnerships with the Chinese and Russians, who also have vast experience in diamond mining and processing.This would effectively end the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the mineral's exploitation, as other investors would have to buy a huge stake in order to get real value and fair price.

It is true that Africa has predominantly remained as a source of raw material while countries that add value to the precious stones have significantly benefited and this has been to our detriment.This is why there is now serious need to understand that if the local industries are transformed from being mere primary producers into full-fledged industries, there are a lot of benefits that will accrue from that.

In terms of fighting colonialism and defending political sovereignty Africans have, since the 1960s stood the test of time, in most cases cuddling together against the predatory instincts of American and British political hawks.Of course, sell-outs have been noticed here and there but Africa will never be a colony again, politically, yet economically the journey is still too long.

Signs are clear that the time has now come for Africa to end western countries' hegemony on its important resources, especially the land and diamonds.The host country Angola's Minister of Mines Mr Victor Kasongo summed up the intentions of the African countries. "It is an African initiative trying to ensure that there is value addition to our resources with the support from our members in Southern Africa.

"We have to amend our laws to enable the governments to realise this. Benefaction is the key priority," he said.Andre' Action Diakite' Jackson of DRC chairs Adpa with a secretariat headed by Edgar Diogo de Cavalho Santos, the former secretary general from Angola.Unless Adpa is taken seriously and its principles implemented, the negative trade balance that has existed since colonial times will persist through the systematic plunder of resources for the benefit of other countries.
 

Publié dans contemporary africa

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