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Sierra Leone pastor unearths one of the largest diamonds

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A Christian pastor in Koyadu village in Tankoro, Sierra Leone, has found one of the largest ever uncut diamonds weighing a whooping 709 carats, reported Tuko (Kenya).

Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, a freelance aluvial miner, took the huge diamond to Sierra Leone's President, Ernest Bai Koroma, on Wednesday in the company of his community's Chief and some members of this community.

The President thanked the pastor for not smuggling the diamond out of the country and pledged that it will be sold in Sierra Leone and the proceeds will benefit the people of the country. He added that the pastor and his community will get their fair compensation.

The diamond was kept in safe custody in Sierra Leone's central bank. It is the 13th largest ever diamond found in the world and the second largest in Sierra Leone after a 969-carat diamond was found in 1972.
Experts say valuations of uncut diamonds are difficult. However, a diamond-mining firm sold an 813-carat stone for $63m at an auction in London in May last year.

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An African church minister who supplements his meagre stipend by scrabbling for minerals in the artisanal mines of eastern Sierra Leone has discovered one of the largest diamonds ever found, reported The Telegraph (UK).

It is believed to be the 13th largest uncut diamond ever to be pulled from the ground, industry analysts said.
The stone is to be auctioned, the Sierra Leonean government announced yesterday, although its value cannot be determined until its quality is assessed. An 813-carat diamond was sold at closed auction in London last month for £51m.

By rights, the stone should have been found by one of the internationally-financed companies operating in the Kono diamond fields. With their huge Caterpillar bulldozers, dredges and industrial water pumps, the big firms certainly had the technological advantage.

That the discovery was instead made by one of the thousands of ordinary men and boys who toil bare-chested under the relentless equatorial sun — a man of the cloth, no less — will be taken by many as an answer to the fervent prayers whispered daily in Kono’s churches.

With the virtuous vicar then handing the stone to the authorities, it may also strike many as an act of propitiation, a moment when Sierra Leone symbolically distanced itself from the diamond-driven bloodlust of its 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002.

Tens of thousands of enslaved Sierra Leoneans spent much of that brutal decade hunched over hand shovels in the mud, forced to dig for diamonds to fund a rebellion mounted by a Liberian-backed warlord, Foday Sankoh.

Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front punished those who resisted it by cutting off limbs, ears and genitals or gouging out eyeballs. More than 100,000 people were killed and tens of thousands more were maimed before military intervention by Britain in 2000 turned the tide of the war in the government's favour.
The exploitation in Kono during the war was given a fictional treatment in “Blood Diamond”, a film starring the Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

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