Death of a Nation


It's so easy to ignore what is happening in other countries. We don't have to deal day to day with the images of the people left behind. The Winter, 2000 issue of Fader magazine, basically a classy hip hop magazine, focuses on the mother land - Africa - and tells of the civil war in Sierra Leone and the thousands of dead and thousands more mutilated. The signature of the rebels is to cut off the hands of their victims, leaving them both symbolically and literally helpless. Many of the mutilated are children, as are many of the rebels, themselves often abducted, press-ganged and drugged by their leaders. And, all for the control over the diamond industry, for Sierra Leone is a major diamond-producing nation, and one of the major causes of the conflict is control of the diamond-producing areas. Our (the US) gluttony for diamonds (the US accounts for more than half of the world's diamond sales), throws fuel on the fire of this internecine African conflict. Guns-for-diamonds is a reality here, and it is a further reality that the diamonds on American wrists may have contributed to the amputation of these Sierra Leonean hands. What's more, hip-hop's current "bling bling" obsession seems the more obscene for the fact that Sierra Leone's population, who pay the ultimate price for the sale o "conflict" diamonds, are the descendants of enslaved Africans - part of the same diaspora many MSN claim as their own. Take a look at these children --

Just an average day
in Sierra Leone

Left: A five-year-old shooting victim at amputee camp. Top: A son helps his father take a pull on a cigarette. Bottom: A 15 year-old daughter brandishing a rifle as a member of the RUF.

Source: The FADER, 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10010, 212.741. 7100

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Morality is contraband in war. - Mohandas K. Gandhi

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