Sierra Leone: Citizens sound off! “If I found a diamond I would…” (VOX POP)

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Pastor Emmanuel A. Momoh a miner in Kono District Eastern Sierra Leone found a  a 709-carat diamond, the second largest diamond found in Sierra Leone since the 969 ct star of Sierra Leone which was found in 1972, and handed it to the government.

A press release from State House says the president will ensure that the diamond is sold to the highest bidder in a transparent manner.

SwitSalone was in the streets of Freetown to ask everyday citizens two questions: Who owns Sierra Leone’s Diamonds? What you you do if you found a diamond?

Kathy Sesay
Kathy Sesay

Kathy Sesay, 25 from Freetown:

WHO OWNS DIAMONDS IN SIERRA LEONE?

“I think the diamonds are owned by the people through the government, because if someone finds a diamond and give to the government, the government would be able to sell and use the money to develop the country.”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND A DIAMOND?

“If I happen to find a diamond I will hand over to the government on the grounds that the government ensures that the due legal process stated in the laws of Sierra Leone with regards to the sales of diamonds is followed, and that I can personally benefit from the sales of the diamond depending on the size. If the diamond is not too big I won’t bother taking it to the government but will sell it legally to an authorised diamond dealer.”

Trevor Jex King
Trevor Jex King

Trevor Jex King, 28, from Freetown:

WHO OWNS DIAMONDS IN SIERRA LEONE?

“Diamond in Sierra Leone is owned by the people not the government, since it’s the people that own the lands. Most of these lands are owned by Chiefs and elders in the villages.  Government and these mining companies are just taking advantage over the fact that these local people do not have the mechanism, machinery and man power to mine diamonds.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND A DIAMOND?

“If I find a diamond I will sell it for my own gain to better my life rather than taking it to officials for little or no commission. It is rare for one to stumble upon such precious gem just like that without digging and shifting dirt over and again.  I won’t put in so much effort into mining and happen to find a diamond after toiling for years, just for me to take it to government, and I don’t want to be told in the end that it’s not a diamond but a stone. So why won’t I just go to any private individuals and sell it myself and have something to sustain my life and have a big investment? Than to take it where I would be told it’s a stone or given little or no commission for finding it.”

Hassan Tejan Mansaray
Hassan Tejan Mansaray

Hassan Tejan Mansaray from Port Loko:

WHO OWNS DIAMONDS IN SIERRA LEONE?

“The questions of who owns the diamonds; people or Govt? I think the Government owns the diamond.  Simply because the government is charged with the responsibility of representing the people of Sierra Leone. Since the government is issuing all licenses for mining of diamonds, notwithstanding that the laws say it all that diamonds valued above 50 carats should be reported to government. Since the government is always being asked the question “why is it that we have all these mineral resources but Sierra Leone is still poor?”. So, to find an answer to this I think all diamonds are owned and should be managed by the government of Sierra Leone.’’

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND A DIAMOND?

“Looking at my pedigree my first option is to consult my Lawyer for advice, because I don’t know all. Based on the advice, I will act accordingly. But again, based on the lack of trust of certain officials, I will smuggle the diamond out of SL and sell to other people.”

Titus Joseph Simbo
Titus Joseph Simbo

Titus Joseph Simbo, 23, from Freetown:

WHO OWNS DIAMONDS IN SIERRA LEONE?

“Before any individual starts to mine diamond in Sierra Leone, that person is supposed to have gotten a diamond mining license from the government so I think diamonds in Sierra Leone are owned by the people and it can only be owned by the government if the person that finds it has no legal diamond license to prove that he/she is not a legal miner.”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND A DIAMOND?

“If I find a diamond and I have a legal permit which is license, I’ll sell it myself and not give it to the government. I see no reason for me to give that to the government.’’