During the 1990’s when the blood diamond epidemic was at its peak, there were brutal conflicts waging on in Central and Southern Africa. More specifically in Angola, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Once these conflicts caught the worlds eye, people started to demand for something to be done. This is when the United Nations crafted a refined definition of blood diamond- any diamond that is mined in areas controlled by forces opposed to the legitimate, internationally recognized government of a country and that is sold to fund military action against that government. This raises the question, was diamond mining always like this? To answer this you should travel back a hundred years to when it was discovered/invented.

The conventional means of diamond mining was initially discovered in 1886 by two brothers, Nicholas and Diederick De Beers, when they dug two diamond mines on their farm near a city known today as Kimberly. This was the catalyst that let the diamond industry grow to what is it today in Africa and all around the world. With the foundation laid by the Da Beers brothers, diamond mining began to sprout up all around Africa. Around the time the diamond industry began to kick off, a lot of the countries in Africa were still under colonial control. Angola had been controlled by the portuguese, Sierra Leone was under british control, and Liberia began as colony of African American Slaves who wished to be free of the slavers from the United States. Angola was under Portuguese control for 500 years until around the 1950s and 1960s. It was around that time the Angolan people began to become tired of being used and exploited. Three rebel groups formed around this time, the US back National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), the Soviet backed  the People’s Movement  for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA, and the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA).

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These three groups initially fought together to liberate Angola from the Portuguese between 1961 to 1974, but it evolved into battle for control in 1976 when the country gained its independence. The country began to destabilize around the time of the cold war, so the Angola people were victim to being pawns of the Soviet Union and the United States. With Sierra Leone being under the control of the British, the diamond mining operations were legitimate and very profitable.

Especially considering the De Beers brothers had a monopoly of the all the mining operations within the country. That is until the independence of the country in 1961. Independence brought a line of corrupt leaders that did nothing but take advantage of the countries resources. Around this time, these corrupt leaders nationalized the diamond mines, prompting the departure of the De Beers corporation and with it the last reminisce of legitimacy. Liberia was a prime example of democracy in the African region from its independence in 1847 up until 1979. Liberia was able to maintain that long period of stability and prosperity due to the fact it had the support of the United States.

Though that ended was brought to a halting stop in 1979 due to the increase price of rice, prompting a series of violent demonstrations and riots. With the country in disarray, a Liberian Army officer named Samuel Doe seized the opportunity to take power and executed all of the current high ranking official with in the government and proclaimed himself the dictator of Liberia.