"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.12.2006

forever ever?

I can't decide whether to see Blood Diamond.

On the one hand, some Sierra Leonians apparently think it's a realistic depiction of what happened in their country, and what happens in other countries. And Mr. Florida's fiance's brother is in the film. It would be cool to see him.

On the other hand, I tend to get upset in movies about Africa. They mess with languages and history. Black Hawk Down, for example, drove my friends and I crazy because the supposed Somalis in the film were all quite obviously Nigerian. Even The Lion King, wonderful as the musical is, drove me crazy because characters switched between South African and east African languages in ways that no real person would do. (I realize this is a personal problem.)

Then there's the whole "white-people-making-movies-about-Africa-and-thinking-they're-being-sensitive" thing. East African film reviewers hated The Constant Gardner because it depicted a white woman coming to save them, and because it was unrealistic. My hopes are slim that Leonardo DiCaprio won't use this to make himself look like a good American celebrity saving the dark continent.

Then there's the real issue, which is that if I see this movie, I probably won't be able to sleep at night. In the course of my research on Congo, I've learned a lot about conflict diamonds. None of it is pretty. There are lots of shady people trying to buy and sell diamonds in the DRC. And the ways they get them, and the ways those diamonds get out of the country and into the international markets in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Brussels are even more shady. Worse than that are the warlords, rebels, and government troops who use the money they make off of their control of the diamond mines to terrorize the countryside. It's shady and wrong and you don't want to ask too many questions because doing so would get you in trouble and that's not my topic anyway.

The diamonds that come out of Congo are generally used for industrial purposes. That means that, unlike conflict diamonds from elsewhere, they aren't pretty enough for jewlery, so they get used as precise cutting instruments for machines that make high-tech devices. That means those diamonds connect to me. And I'm just not sure I want to think about it any more.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sam Davidson said...

My wife and I are going to see the film tomorrow (free tickets - can't beat it).

I did think Constant Gardener was over the top, but I hear good things about Blood Diamond.

In the most recent issue of Fortune Magazine, there's a piece on the diamond trade that I think is well balanced.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 5:37:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Sam. I'll be interested to know what y'all think of Blood Diamond.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 10:20:00 AM

 

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