Diamond Mischief in Sierra Leone
This story illustrates some of the tribal complexities and inherent problems in creating sustainable economies in third world nations and more specifically in West African nations such as Sierra Leone, one of the worldâs poorest countries and ranked at the bottom of just about every list of struggling nations.
Sierra Leone is a resource rich nation. Imagine working in your garden and finding a huge diamond. That is what happened to a poor woman there recently. If such a thing were to happen in the U.S., the woman would have taken the diamond to some sort of broker, paid a commission and gone home with the profits. Things are not so easy in Sierra Leone which has recently emerged from a ten year civil war in which diamonds were used to fund torture and slaughter.
Instead, the woman and her best friend followedÂ tribal custom and wentÂ to her Paramount Chief who in turn notified a friend in the Diamond Sellers Association. This friend notified a Lebanese Jew in Freetown and commenced travel there to sell it. By this time, the womanâs husband was aware of the diamond and became convinced that he and his wife were going to be cheated, he notified the police. The police then arrested the womanâs friend and began an investigation into the conduct of the Paramount Chief who should have notified the Governmentâs mining commission and transferred the gem there to be auctioned.
As it stands, the woman who found the gem received $50,000 US dollars. The gem is valued at $345,000. The government is investigating where the rest of the money went.
And this, my friends, is why Sierra Leone is screwed. Find the money and you find the hole in the hull, but no one ever finds the money. The ship of state will sink until they do.