Africa Comes to the Oscars

The week before the Academy Awards, the Diamond Information Center usually hosts a lavish suite celebrating diamond jewelry. But this year, it worried that wouldn't feel right. Given the worldwide economic downturn, DIC thought a lot of flash would be out of step with the prevailing mood. So the organization decided on an approach that would target the conscience as much as the desire for glitz. The result was a (comparatively) low-key dinner and a cocktail party at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles that was filled with celebrities, jewelry, fashion people, and jewelry designers (African students who won De Beers' “Shining Light Diamond Design” competition). Yet, despite the big names in attendance, the party's real guest of honor—and in many ways, its reason for being—was a small, serious man who most attendees had never heard of. He was Festus Mogae, the former pre

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