This Is Africa—or Is It?

With all the jewelry-industry angst and Hollywood/NGO hype surrounding the release of Blood Diamond, one key fact was downplayed everywhere but in the movie itself: What went on in Sierra Leone is business as usual in much of Africa. In the movie, Danny Archer, the mercenary played by Leonardo DiCaprio, tries to explain this to Maddy Bowen, the journalist played by Jennifer Connelly. Government leaders, he tells her, want to profit from Africa’s natural resources until they get enough money to live in exile somewhere else, and rebel factions fight for power but don’t actually want to govern the mess that’s left after the fighting. “This is Africa,” he says throughout the film. I don’t claim to be a scholar of African politics, but it isn’t difficult to see that the political structure of most of the continent is deeply flawed and tribal hatreds run deep. The genocide
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