Diamond Road

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Willem began to work alongside community elders and a crusading team of legal aid lawyers from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Eventually he became one of the lead negotiators and spokesperson for the community. In they won a landmark case for aboriginal land rights: the highest court in South Africa ruled that the Richtersveld community had been removed from their land under racist laws, and was therefore entitled to have it, and the mineral rights, returned to them, finally giving them legal control of the land and its valuable diamonds.

How Diverging Diamonds Keep You From Dying

Willem and the community have been fighting for over a decade but they are closer than ever to reclaiming their land and holding the keys to a diamond mine. The reparation funds that come with it will enable them to focus on important community development initiatives.

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For the first time in over 80 years, their future will lie in their own hands. Many experts, Willem and his fellow community members included, believe that their negotiations with the government are a landmark in the history of the new South Africa and a test case for the continent and indigenous people around the world. Maria Farmer is a Nama nurse and elder. Fences were erected and the Nama were forced inland to make a new life in the desert.

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When diamonds displaced her people, that land became the Alexkor mine and the gated mining town of Alexander Bay. Her childhood was spent not on the coast, but playing in the desert near the feared diamond mine.


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For Maria, diamonds were a curse, a stone to be loathed. She heard stories about people being imprisoned for simply picking up a diamond.

“Diamond Road Show I” poster (DIN A1)

She knew that in her world, stealing a diamond was a more serious crime than raping a woman. A lot has changed in the new South Africa, a country emerging from the shadows of apartheid and rewriting the wrongs of the past, in which diamonds divided haves from have-nots and Black from White. The land claim she helped initiate was won in , a landmark case for aboriginal land rights in South Africa. The highest court in the land ruled that her people had been removed from their land under racist laws, and were therefore entitled to have it, and the mineral rights, returned to them.

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And, as she says, for diamonds no longer to be the stone that divides. There is a huge hole in the ground where Chief Floyd Sangris used to go fishing. While Sangris and his people watched, lake water was pumped from Lac de Gras to make way for a mine. Ten years and 1. Diamond Road sees past the hype to show us the worldwide twists and turns -- and numerous hypocrisies -- involved in bringing a stone to market.

The filmmakers went to heroic lengths to get into obscure places and create a balanced and thoughtful portrait of a trade that affects us all. I urge you not to miss this deeply human story. It examines the diamond world through the lens of a number of people in different parts of the world, including Sierra Leone, India, and New York. It focuses on the poor diamond miner, the child diamond cutter, the diamond trader and others within the broader industry using each of them symbolically to represent different parts of the world today.

“Diamond Road Show I” poster (DIN A1) – BARNES & QUINCY

Many issues are raised by the documentary including the obligations of the developed world towards the developing world, especially with respect to limiting exploitation of those who live in the global south. As a study of the way a commodity can affect the lives of so many in the poorer parts of the world, and benefit the few so much in the richer parts of the world, this is a superb examination. It should be required viewing for everyone, especially those who are interested in socio-economic issues.

It is a most useful classroom tool to raise issues concerning socio-economic deprivation, poverty reduction, and other allied problems that exist in the world today. It exposes an industry where thousands of dollars exchange hands but where little of this is seen by those who dig for diamonds or cut basic stones. In the case of Sierra Leone, Diamond Road provides a clear example of how being endowed with natural resources can be a curse for development since it leads to politicians and entrepreneurs more interested in getting their share of the wealth rather than harnessing these resources for development.

The documentary also highlights the challenges of bringing the benefits of the diamond industry to its poorest participants by making the market fairer. Anyone who wants to know what can and cannot be done to improve the ground-level benefits of the diamond industry should see this documentary. What results is a multi-layered portrait of a stone steeped in a history of intrigue, conflict, love and hope.


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