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THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN
Saloneâ€™s â€œDIAMONDS ARE FOREVER!â€
â€œDiamonds are forever,
They are all I need to please me.
They can stimulate and tease me,
They won’t leave in the night.
I’ve no fear that they might desert meâ€¦
“I don’t need love,
For what good will love do me?
Diamonds never lie to me,
For when love’s gone,
They’ll lustre onâ€¦.â€
– Shirley Bassey, from the soundtrack of the movie that starred Sean Connery as James Bond, â€œDiamonds are Foreverâ€.
Diamonds and erotic loveÂ – engagement and wedding rings given by males toÂ females – are fused in the global consciousness -Â from Freetown to Paris, Dubai to Beijing, New York to Moscow.Â In the abovementioned 1972 film theme song for â€œDiamonds are Foreverâ€ by Shirley Bassey, she sang that diamonds are superior to erotic love. That was an earth-shaking statement. Diamonds AND Sierra Leone are fused in global consciousness.Â The political boundaries of Sierra Leone are shaped like a diamond that has gone through the best of diamond jewelers in New York. Sadly, in spite of Sierra Leone having been the source of the FOURTH BIGGEST DIAMOND IN THE WORLD â€“ â€œThe Star of Sierra Leoneâ€ â€“ and some of the biggest diamonds used by some of the most powerful and wealthiest people on planet earth, the people of Sierra Leone have gained very little since the industrial mining of diamonds started in the 1930s.Â Instead of diamonds being a blessing to Sierra Leone, it has been a typical example of an AfricanÂ â€œresource curseâ€ â€“ not only because of theÂ irreparable and irreversible environmental damage as the diamonds are being mined; but more so, because diamonds have awakened the worst of greed and insensitive predation of the political and bureaucratic elite, which escalated during the eleven years civil war â€“ 1991 to 2002 â€“ when the ferociousÂ quest for diamonds by armed combatants, mercenaries, government soldiers, international troopsâ€¦. was the rationale for the meting out on the hapless citizenry some of the most sordid brutality seen in modern history.Â
The diamonds that almost littered the rough and muddy roads of the diamond-rich Kono District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone from the 1930s to the 1970s and couldÂ be easily picked up by a five year old child are no more.Â Diamonds in the district today are largely mined by large scale industrial companies like Koidu Holdings. They dig a mile deep into the granite rocks.Â They shatter homes and lives for miles around them.Â I suspect successive governments of Sierra Leone since Independence in 1961 have no technology, or, professionals with integrity, to monitor exactly how much diamonds are being mined and exported by these companies â€“ they meekly take what these companies give out to them, with childish naivetÃ©. I suspect that the Kimberley Certification process concocted after the civil war in Sierra Leone to prevent â€œblood diamondsâ€ reaching the international market has been a charade to salve the consciences of the global diamond merchants in South Africa and the West â€“ but, the SLAVE MENTALITY of governments in Sierra Leone have themÂ accepting with slavish minds thisÂ global diamond status quo.Â I have an idea to reverse this pathetic scenario for Sierra Leoneans/Africans.
The Guruâ€™s â€œDiamond Ideaâ€.
We are going on a global quest for ALL the diamonds that have been mined from Sierra Leone (and Africa) and have been made into exquisite jewelry.Â We are going to search for the STORIES of LOVE around theseÂ diamond jewelries; and rubbish Shirley Basseyâ€™s song that diamonds are superior to love.Â Â Have in mind, please, that the entire jewelry diamond trade has been an illusion created by two white men â€“ the famous British colonialist, Cecil Rhodes, who founded Debeers about 1898; and Harry Oppenheimer, the American who bought part of Debeers about 1938, and together with a US advertising agency, N.Y. Ayer, set in motion the concept of a diamond as the ultimate symbol of romance for hard-working citizens. The story line sold to people was this: by putting an almost valuelessÂ rock called a diamond on the finger of their sweetheart, the breadwinner was not only displaying unparalleled affection, but also displaying enviable social status. And the bigger the diamond, the better! I aim to ride on the wave of this crafted illusion.
â€œThe Star of Sierra Leoneâ€
The 968.9-caratÂ â€œStar of Sierra Leoneâ€ diamond was discovered by miners on February 14, 1972, in theÂ DimincoÂ (National Diamond Mining Company) alluvial mines in Koidu town, Kono District, in Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.Â Â It ranks as the fourth-largest gem-quality diamond in the world. On October 3, 1972, Sierra Leone’s then President, Siaka Stevens (APC Leader), announced that Harry Winston, the famous New York city jeweler, had purchased the Star of Sierra Leone for about $2.5 million. It was recut into a 42-carat pear shape by New York cutting firm, Lazare Kaplan. The rough diamond also produced 17 additional diamonds, of which 13 were deemed flawless. The largest single finished gem was a flawless pear-shaped diamond of 53.96 carats. Six of the diamonds cut from the original rough diamond were later set byÂ Harry Winston into the “Star of Sierra Leone” brooch – it is likely worth more than $6 million. A rare characteristic of the stone is its perfect chemical purity: it is ranked as a â€œType IIa Diamondâ€, a category which includes less than 1% of all diamonds.
â€œDiamonds are Foreverâ€ Advertisements
Diamonds are not by themselves rare minerals.Â Debeers monopolized the diamond industry globally which started by 1898 in South Afriica. He bought nearly all diamonds sold.Â He prevented a glut in the market. He gave the impression that diamonds were extremely rare. Then, by 1938, US entrepreneur, Harry Oppenheimer, bought part of DebeersÂ With a United States advertising agency, N.Y. Ayer, the greatest advertising marketing feat in human history was unfolded. In the US alone, diamond jewelry revenues were estimated at $24 billion in 2012; and by 2020, 54% of the USâ€™ jewelry trade of $78 billion compriseÂ of diamonds â€“ almost $40 billion. The same goes for the global jewelry annual market of $229 billion, largely in the West, and China, Japan, the Arab Middle East, and IndiaÂ
In Japan in 1967, only 5% of Japanese women used diamond rings for their engagement; by 1981, the number has jumped to 60% of Japanese women. Japan never had a tradition of romantic marriages, making diamonds a tough sell for brides. But by using slick advertising, playing up diamonds as a symbol of the modern West, or a way to break from traditional Japanese norm, De Beers was able to build a billion-dollar-a-year industry.Â Now, one of the â€˜stories of jewelry diamondsâ€™.
Exciting Diamond Stories!!
Let us take a close look at the â€œTaylor-Burton Diamondâ€. The original rough diamond was found in 1966 in the Premier Mine in South Africa.Â It weighed 241 carats.Â It was to be auctioned in the US after being made by jewelers into a much-talked-about jewelry. The diamond was flown to Gstaad in Switzerland so that the most famous Hollywood actress of the time, Elizabeth Taylor, could see it. After she had seen it, it was flown back to the United States for the auction. Taylor’s equally famous husband, the actor Richard Burton,Â had set a maximum bid of $1 million for the diamond. The sale proceeded in increments of $10,000 after $500,000, and only two people remained at the bid of $650,000. At $1 million, Yugler, who was bidding for Taylor and Burton, dropped out of the auction. Other famous names that put in a bid for the diamond included one of the most famous US jewelers, Harry Winston; another was the Sultan of Brunei (reputed to me one of the richest men in the world); another was the Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis (made more famous when he married Jacqueline Kennedy, the wife ofÂ the assassinated John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States; “Jackie”, and she was famously known, was the most famousÂ fashion icon of her era). Richard Burton had initially lost out on the diamond auction. His reaction?
Burton wrote in his diary: “I turned into a raving maniac â€¦I was going to get that diamond if it cost me my life or 2 million dollars -Â whichever was the greater. “Â In the 1970s, the celebrated love affair of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (whoÂ married Elizabeth Taylor; divorced Elizabeth Taylor; and married ElizabethÂ Taylor for the second time) was daily in nearly all the US media, with the same intensity that the Western media devoted to Princess Diana, the deceased first wife of the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles. Richard Burton managed to buy the diamond for a million dollars, a record then, three times what was previously paid for a diamond jewelry. The diamond was subsequently named the “Taylor- Burton Diamond”.
There are diamonds on the fingers of hundreds of millions of ladies in the richest countries of the world â€“ each diamond carries a story we are going to track down among the famous and powerful, and link to the diamonds of Africa, AND Sierra Leone. To sheen our quest, there is the 1971Â Hollywood filmÂ “Diamonds Are Forever”, which starred the sexiest film star of his era, Sean Connery, from a novel by one of the greatest novelist of his time, Ian Flemming.Â Then, there is the movie â€œBlood Diamondsâ€, set against the backdrop of the civil war of the 1990s in Sierra Leone. Itâ€™s the story of Danny Archer (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) â€“ an ex mercenary from Zimbabwe â€“ and Solomon Vandy (played by Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman of Sierra Leone, whose son had been kidnapped by the rebels, and made to murder and maim civilians. Archerâ€™s main goal was to get from Vandy a rare pink diamond; Vandyâ€™s obsession was to save his son from the nasty rebels. It was a stirring story of an African fatherâ€™sÂ LOVE triumphing over the GREED of the venal white man. See my story lineâ€¦?
We are going to soften the â€˜heartsâ€™ and kindle the consciences of the millions of women who may have â€˜bloodâ€™ on their hands (at best, a lot of dirt in their minds because of the millions of Africans who slave night and day to dig out diamonds only to live at starvation levels)
in theirÂ purchase of diamonds from Sierra Leone/Africa.Â They will â€˜save themselvesâ€™ by contributing directly, or, indirectly, towards development of Sierra Leone/Africa. A form of â€œDiamond-
Reparationsâ€™. Shirley Basseyâ€™s lyrics are wrong.Â It is love that gives gloss to diamonds; loveâ€™s luster that will last forever.
Oswald Hanciles, The Guru.
Professionalism in Journalism
A case for the need to study journalism at tertiary level to ensure professionalism
By: Joseph Abraham Sesay (JAS)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â PART 1
A certain degree of residual agreement over who is a journalist has lingered alongside the ongoing attempts to define journalism. Disparity in scholarly submissions spanning from different academic backgrounds such as Psychology and Sociology as early as 1800s is still evident in modern debates to describe the trade and business of journalism.
From the second half of the 20th Century to date, there has been massive research about journalism establishing it as a widely acknowledged field of study and practice. There exists a global body of knowledge for the study of journalism in colleges and universities worldwide affirming its relevance as a field of communication worthy of specialization which births professionalism. The field has its own international and national associations and journals which further acknowledges Journalism as a professional field of study.
This suggests journalism as a discipline and a field of study is based on a consensual body of knowledge, a widely shared understanding of key theories and methods, and an international practice of teaching, learning and researching journalism (Dueze 2005).
Going forward, let us furnish ourselves with some definitions of the key ideas in the topic-journalism and professionalism, to serve as a springboard before we take off proper.
Definitions of Journalism
The Oxford Dictionary definition:
â€œthe activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.â€
Merriam Webster definition:
a. The collection and editing of news for presentation through the media
b. An academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium.
c. Writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation
d. Writing designed to appeal to the current popular taste or public interest.
The definitions of Journalism are unmistaken to highlight that journalism is:
1. A profession
2. Collection, Editing and Presentation of news
3. An Academic study
4. Writing, a direct presentation of facts without an attempt at interpretation
We will revert to the highlights of these definitions soon but first letâ€™s define professionalism.
Definition of Professionalism
The competence or skill expected of a professional
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines professionalism as:
The conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person
As one idea, professional journalism can simply be argued to mean the practice of gathering, editing and presenting facts as news through various media following universally and locally set principles and ethics culminating in to what is referred to as professional best practice or Code of Ethics. According to UNESCO, the professionalism of journalism is exhibited in the observance of standards such as verification of news content, confidentiality of sources, fairness and public interest- ethics.
Let me hasten to state that without adequate requisite training professionalism is not in view. Stated differently, a professional is someone who has undergone adequate training in a field of study, tested, approved and certified to practice.
Going by the highlights of the definitions of journalism being a profession (a discipline you train for), Collection, Editing and Presentation of news (a craft that needs learning), an academic study (investment of time and resources to gain knowledge), writing, a direct presentation of facts without an attempt at interpretation (Ethics) evidentially supposes journalism is not just something you jump into. It requires training without which one cannot reign.
Some scholars like Geoff Pridmore argued against the aforementioned stating explicitly in his work â€œTeach yourself Journalismâ€ that one doesnâ€™t necessarily need to learn journalism through the acquisition of a certificate in communication to become a journalist. *He argues anyone can become a journalist if he/she wants to.*
Pridmoreâ€™s assertion underplays the concept professionalism especially in terms of efficient and effective service delivery and presumptuously implies that the public (which journalism serves) is gullible hence anyone can become a journalist and serve this public. He may argue that anyone can provide a service but the best service providers are professionally trained and the service of journalism is no exception. Differing from his implied description of the journalistâ€™s public as gullible and can be served by anyone, the public the journalists serves is the most intelligent, informed, learned and critical. The diversity in terms of social, cultural, psychological and psycho-graphical make up is colossal. Truly, journalism can only be efficiently and effectively practiced by bright minds, clever and intelligent people who have been rigorously trained through years of academic study. Anyone cannot become a journalist as Geoff Pridmore asserts.
Anyone with brains and a knack for finding things out stands a chance but better placed to excel as a journalist is one with a bright mind and sound academic training in journalism. The focus is not on the certification as Pridmore implies but progressive initiation into the media society i.e. the training of the mind towards professional journalistic ethics and practice.
The relevance thereof can be appreciated by considering the International Federation of Journalistsâ€™ provisions on Access to the Profession. It states:
â€¢ Access to the profession should be free. The professional level of future journalists should be as high as possible.
â€¢ Trainee journalists must undergo proper training under conditions agreed by publishers and journalistsâ€™ unions.
â€¢ Appointments are restricted to qualified journalists, that is persons who have minimum professional qualifications agreed by journalistsâ€™ unions and media organizationsâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦
Summarily, though the first statement says access to the profession is free, it quickly recognizes that the practice should be in tandem with the highest professional standards (possible only if one has been trained to be a professional through rigorous academic training). Training is emphasized in the next provision; training approved by publishers and journalistsâ€™ unions (professionals in their own right most certainly after undergoing professional academic training).Â In the area of appointments, it clearly states that only qualified journalists with professional qualification qualify for same. Qualified journalist!? Curiosity warrants the question then, are there unqualified journalists?
Certainly there are! The same way there are unqualified teachers, unqualified doctors, unqualified drivers etc. If the practice is below set code of ethics it is unprofessional and the person becomes ethically unworthy of the esteemed nomenclature and reputation of being a journalist.
To clearly understand the rationale warranting academic training which births true professionalism, letâ€™s consider the elements of journalism.
To be continuedâ€¦â€¦â€¦