Blood diamonds or conflict diamonds are “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council”. (United Nations definition of Conflict Diamonds). (For more information about blood dimaonds, click here.)
How does a teacher help young business students understand the relationship between the diamond business, globalization, war, and the despair amidst wealth that the African people face today. Blood Dimaond (2006) is a Hollywood adventure-drama film that takes us through the complete supply chain of the diamond trade. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly make topics like blood diamonds, which most of our young students do not know much about, much more interesting to discuss and learn about in ways that most teachers (like myself) can not. (The official site of the movie can be accessed by clicking here).
The movie is set in the Sierra Leone civil war of the late 1990s. The story revolves around Danny Archer- an ex mercenary from Rhodesia with a tortured past- and Solomon Vandy- a fisherman who like most parents around the world dreams of a good future for his son. Though both men are Africans, one is white and the other black, which is enough to take their lives in different directions. Solomon is kidnapped by rebel forces and taken to work in diamond mines where he chances upon a rare and big diamond. The rebel commader sees him trying to hide the diamond. However, before Solomon is forced to give up the diamond government forces attack the rebel and Solomon is arrested. In prison, Solomon’s path crosses Archer who has been caught smuggling diamonds from the country. Archer proposes to help Solomon find his lost wife and children in exchange for the diamond. The two men are assisted by Maddy Bowen, an idealistic American journalist who finds herself attracted to the daring Archer. At each step of the way, Danny, Solomon, and Maddy find themselves having to fight the corrupt and greedy bureaucracy, rebel forces, and business interests who profit immensely from the illegal trade in African diamonds. The rest of the movie is about the search for the diamond in rebel territory, with Solomon driven by the motivation to be united with his family and Archer by the chance to get out of Africa.
The movie was well received by critics, media, and viewers. It is a great story with compelling characters. I hope it also makes people think about the human side of the global diamond trade, especially the lives lost in getting that wedding ring to the store.