Blood Diamond Review
Blood Diamond Reaction Paper One of the greatest ills, committed by the United States on the African people, was the exploitation of African labor. The slave trade became the most “successful” African commodity until the middle of the 1800’s, when westerner’s began to exploit other natural resources of the continent. The expansion of capital in Africa enabled the US and Europe to fund both the scientific and industrial revolutions.
In addition, when Apartheid began in 1948, after WWII to segregate black, white, Indian and colored people from each other, three defining systems were established: a legal system, a socioeconomic system, and a political system. It segregated the land and people by law and set up city ordinances segregating most areas of public life including education. As one might predict, the African people were disenfranchised, creating political and financial unrest. In 1994, Apartheid was dismantled, but the social, economic and ideological impacts of the western world will remain indefinitely (Khapoya 115-146).
Only $13.90 / page
One African commodity still exploited today is the diamond. The year 1868, marked the beginning of the diamond trade, when astounding amounts of diamonds were unexpectedly discovered in the inland area now known as Kimberly, South Africa. By the beginning of the 20th century, Cecil Rhoades, a British entrepreneur had rendered nearly one million square miles of Africa under British dominion and had gained control of over 90% of the world’s diamond output (Sweet).
The movie “Blood Diamond” is a modern day example of the political and economic corruption established and perpetuated by the diamond trade and Cecil Rhoades. For the greater part of the 20th century, Africa was in a state of civil war. The economic and political unrest of the people bred a culture of fear, instability, aggression and greed. Disenfranchised, the African people sought opportunities for economic and political freedom offered by the diamond trade. As the movie portrayed, the offer came at a very steep price and often against better moral judgment.
Children were coerced into soldiers of war, families were separated, townships were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Africans lost their lives. The historical precedent had been set however, in order to get anything done in Africa the white man was needed and it was the white man who perpetuated corruption. This can be seen in Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film. In one memorable dialogue he stated, “People killing each other is the way of life. It’s the way it’s always been. ” For some, it seemed, the only choice was to either be a victim or an oppressor.
Despite political efforts by the United States to prohibit the sale of indirect and direct diamonds from combat zones, the diamond trade was readily used to purchase fire arms and finance civil war. The inability to track the diamonds made it nearly impossible to detect diamonds from combat zones. In addition, the U. S. and our consumer culture are responsible for 2/3 of the diamond purchases worldwide; this is a startling fact considering the blood and misery engendered in obtaining them.
As a college graduate with a degree in Liberal Studies, I have taken more than one class dealing with the history, literature or ideologies of the African people. I was taught about the collectivist culture, paternalistic in nature, as one can see in the character, Solomon. Solomon was brave, selfless, and loyal and eternally dedicated to his family. Until watching the movie, however, I had no idea the exploitation continued. Someone once said, “Ignorance is bliss,” and it’s quite possible I am just that blissful, but I’m not entirely convinced.
Instead, I am more apt to believe the capitalistic nature of our economy concealed the truth from us the consumer. Intellectuals and educators are generally known for exposing the truth, so why was I so unaware about the current situation within Africa? I will never be able to answer that question, but I can no longer choose ignorance. Works Cited Khapoya, Vincent B. The African Experience: an Introduction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998. Print. Sweet, Matthew. “Cecil Rhodes: a Bad Man in Africa. ” Editorial. Independent. Independent. co. uk, 16 Mar. 2002. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.