I heard about this phenomenal Russell Simmons story today while attending the Elevating Academic Achievement: Best Practices for Educators of African American Male Students Conference today (Detroit) during the Using Public Relations to Increase Parental Participation While Simultaneously Empowering Our Youth session.
Part of the discussion was about not finding positive news in the “mainstream” media in regards to Black men/Black business/Black families that we can share with our children to enlighten them on what they can achieve.
The instructor (Lohren Carter) used this story as an example & asked how many heard about this & none of us had. She then stated that when Russell & Kimora were divorcing, the story was all over the place & no one could deny that. So I thought to myself; a dissolving black family is publicized big time but empowering African people to reap the rewards of their resource riches is on page 8 of section G (I made the story location up but you know what I mean).
Anyway, on the positive piece!
Russell Simmons Launches Diamond Empowerment Fund
Russell Simmons recently Tuesday from a fact-finding trip to South Africa. Simmons, who was accompanied by a delegation, ventured to Africa in order to find out the truth about the diamond trade in Africa. On Tuesday, Simmons and his delegation held a press conference in which they disclosed their findings, and announced their own plan of empowerment for the African communities in which diamonds are found.
Russell Simmons is a co-owner of Simmons Jewelry Company. At the press conference, Simmons announced that his company will be forming the Diamond Empowerment Fund. The goal of the fund is to procure money to assist the people and communities in Africa in their own self-empowerment.
The Diamond Fund will aid educational institutions throughout South Africa and Botswana in hope of enhancing the economic power of African people.
In addition, Simmons announced the start of the Green Initiative. The Green Initiative is launched with the goal of raising money for the Diamond Empowerment Fund. To do so, Simmons will produce specially designed Green Initiative jewelry. Simmons will allocate twenty five percent of the profits from the sale of the Green Initiative jewelry to the Diamond Empowerment Fund.
Simmons also announced various other findings at the press conference. Although the diamond trade has been given a negative connotation in America, he found that it brings many positives to African people.
“I have witnessed, firsthand, that diamonds can be, as they are in Botswana, the difference between extreme poverty and total stability…The people of Botswana have health care, education and a comfortable life thanks, almost exclusively, to their diamond resources. I met with Botswana President Festus Mogae and former South African President Nelson Mandela. I visited orphanages, the HIV clinics, the schools and the mines. I even saw skilled African workers in Botswana sorting, cutting and polishing diamonds, a complete contradiction to what Americans believe about the diamond mining process. This is a shining example of how all extractive industries should operate in Africa and throughout the world.”
Dr. Ben Chavis, who traveled with Simmons, said, “We went to South Africa and Botswana both to see, firsthand, how the diamond industry contributes to the quality of life there, and to listen to the people share with us their aspirations for how this natural resource can help them realize their dreams, hopes and desires for a better life. We now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the diamond industry is a strong force that helps to improve the quality of life of the people of Southern Africa.” (Source: Sound Slam)
Back to me:
I applaud Russell’s efforts & hope that others join him & see what os going on in Sierra Leone & other West African countries. Well wait, Kanye did open up his big assed mouth on this topic with his hit/conscious song Diamonds (From Sierra Leone), this time he made sense.
What are Conflict Diamonds:
Conflict diamonds are diamonds illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa. The United Nations (UN) defines conflict diamonds as “…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.” These diamonds are sometimes referred to as “blood diamonds.” (Source: Diamondfacts.org)
Conflict diamonds captured the world’s attention during the extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. During this time, it is estimated that conflict diamonds represented approximately 4% of the world’s diamond production. Illicit rough diamonds have also been used by rebels to fund conflicts in Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo Brazzaville).
Today, the flow of conflict diamonds has been reduced to considerably less than 1%.
There are three diamond producing countries that account for this small percentage. Firstly, the Republic of Congo has been suspended from participation in the Kimberley Process owing to areas of non-compliance. Secondly, Liberia and the Ivory Coast are under United Nations Security Council Resolutions to prohibit the extraction and trading of diamonds. Despite both the Republic of Congo and Liberia benefiting from internationally recognized peace agreements, diamonds from these countries may be referred to as “conflict diamonds”. (Source: Diamondfacts.org)
It has been said that war is the price of peace… Angola and Sierra Leone have already paid too much. Let them live a better life. — Juan Larrain, Chairman of the Monitoring Mechanism on sanctions against UNITA