Diamonds are perhaps the most expensive and desired natural resource in history. In recent times, however, diamonds have taken on a different meaning as its sales has been used to finance civil wars, namely in Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa. Sierra Leone produces about 10% of the world’s diamonds and its diamonds are some of the most valued in the world. The civil war the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group aimed at “bringing democracy” to Sierra Leone against the then centralized government of Sierra Leone. The RUF funded their fight through the sale of diamonds on the black market after they seized control of the diamond mines. Most of the atrocities (murder, amputation, etc.,) were committed by the RUF, who notoriously kidnapped children to use them as soldiers in their fight for power.
The sale of diamonds to finance these wars led to the now commonly used term, “blood diamonds,” which was further popularized in a major movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and in a song by rapper Kanye West. In the video below, an 11-year old former child soldier tells the war from his point of view, the things he was forced to do and his life following the war.
Wars have been a part of civilization since biblical times and a lot of nations were essentially built as a result of war. Most of the wars I’ve learned in my global and American history classes in high school have been nation against nation and usually follow what has become conventional in most wars: established armies, a battlefront, etc. The kind of war Sierra Leone and others have experienced in recent times (including the current one in Syria), is something new to me and I am curious to know how you think history and social studies teachers will incorporate this into their curriculum.