De Beers, the company that single-handedly made the diamond industry what it is today, was founded in 1888 by British colonizer Cecil Rhodes. He went to southern Africa when he was 18 years old and eventually took over the diamond mines at Kimberley, South Africa, and other areas.
Being a ruthless capitalist, Rhodes passed laws, levied colonial taxes, and used brutal punishments on Africans to force them to work for near slave wages in diamond mines. African miners were forced to work in extremely dangerous conditions and live away from their families in shanty-like compounds. This trend continues today.
The conflict diamond atrocities that took place in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other parts of Africa are rooted in Rhodes’ violent quest for acquisition of Africa’s diamonds and natural resources for the benefit of European consumption.