The Man That
Is MIKKO TAKKUNEN
Diamonds are a huge business in Sierra Leone. The civil war was largely fought over the dominance of the diamond mining areas in eastern parts of the country. The main diamond districts are Kono and Kenema, but there are mines also around the second city Bo, which streets are lined with diamond offices. These following photographs are from a small town called Mamboma, roughly 10 miles from Bo, in southern Sierra Leone. Mining began in the area in the early 1960s but the local community has benefited very little from diamonds. The rebels burned the entire town during the war, and the population fled to the bush. Nearly all the huts and houses in Mamboma have been built after the war. The natural environment has suffered greatly from the diamond mining, as forsaken pits have left the soil destroyed making it impossible to use that land for farming.
Diamond mining continues in Mamboma, but at a small scale compared to the Kono and Kenema districts. There are dozens of small pits in Mamboma, most of which have less than ten workers, compared to the mines with hundreds of workers in some of the big mines in Kono and Kenema. Mining is a very popular profession among young men, despite the fact that pay is poor and infrequent. The workers get paid only when diamonds are found, and even then their share of the profits remain miniscule. None of the miners will ever get to experience any of the the luxury associated with diamonds. The wealth is created later in the production chain, when the diamonds are exported abroad to cities like Tel Aviv and Antwerp.
All of the images that are in this series
are moving in some way, I especially feel that the one above oozes emotive attributes; nothing but a hand coming from the darkness. Almost a parallel to the darkness that is no doubt in some of these peopels lives.
To achieve inexpensive diamonds across the world, seems like the likley answer; but sometimes people need to think about what effect this whole inexpensive notion has further down the line than their own wallets.
Photograph By MIKKO TAKKUNEN