From Liberia With Love
Liberia is front page news theses days. The country was founded and colonized by freed American slaves in 1821, on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there. After the Civil War, thousands of free black Americans left the United States and moved to Liberia.
Those colonists formed an elite group in Liberian society, and, over a period of 20 years, the colony continued to grow and establish economic stability. By 1847, more than 13,000 Americans had moved to Liberia, and in 1867 Liberia declared itself an independent state.
The Americans didn’t integrate into African society. They had their own social customs, culture and religious practices they brought from the United States. The Americans dominated over the various ethnic groups of native people, whom they considered primitives. The mutual mistrust and hostility between the “Americans” along the coast and the “Natives” of the interior would be a recurrent theme in the country’s history.
In 1980, a bloody coup was led by Samuel Kanyon Doe, who claimed marginalization at the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers. Doe’s regime was the country’s first dictatorship that ended 133 years of Americo-Liberian political domination.
The new government leaders lacked experience and were ill prepared to rule. Everything about the regime was corrupt, making it ripe for another coup.
Nine years later, Charles Taylor, a well known felon that escaped an American jail to participate in civil war in Liberia, led a Libyan-financed resistance group that overthrew the Doe regime. The American-educated Taylor became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa.
In 1997 Taylor became the President of Liberia. During his term of office, he was formally indicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone, accused of war crime and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War.
Currently on trial at The Hague, Taylor is accused of orchestrating bloody massacres to ensure a personal profit from the Sierra Leone diamond trade. The accusations include receiving illegally mined “blood diamonds” in return for arming the rebels in Sierra Leone responsible for atrocities.
Enter supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Prosecutors at Taylor’s trial say he gave Naomi Campbell a rough diamond while at a party hosted by then-South African President Nelson Mandela in 1997. They believe the supermodel’s testimony will prove that Taylor was lying when he said he never owned any rough diamonds, known also as blood diamonds or conflict diamonds.
Adding to the intrigue is the source of the allegation against Campbell — actress Mia Farrow — who told prosecutors in the Hague she overheard Campbell describing a “huge diamond” she received in the middle of the night from Taylor’s men during a shared stay at Nelson Mandela’s home.
“She said that in the night she had been awakened and some men were knocking at the door and they had been sent by Charles Taylor and … they had given her a huge diamond. And she said she intended to give the diamonds to Nelson Mandela’s children’s fund.”
If nothing else, Campbell’s appearance at The Hague has served to bring the focus of the world’s media to the ongoing issue of blood diamonds and the human rights abuses to which they are linked.
Marilyn Monroe – Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend: