By Elkass Sannoh
The most trumpeted topical issue in Sierra Leone is the recently “found diamond” from the country’s diamondiferous region -Kono District. The purported 700 carat gem was handed over to the Vice President -Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and was later transferred to the National Minerals Agency to conduct one of the internationally acclaimed tests with a device called Presidium Duotester.
Many Sierra Leoneans have accentuated their opinions either for cheap political scores, genuine concern or to sympathize with Ezekiel Ansumana -who brought the purported diamond to the Government of Sierra Leone. The question being asked was whether the process leading to the conclusion that the purported diamond was a true stone was in fact genuine and transparent. Others are of the view that the purported diamond was magically replaced with a stone to cheat on the miners from Nimikoro Chiefdom.
Another group from the ‘Makeni Ataya base’ said the Vice President -Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh used supernatural spell to remote the thinking pattern of Ezekiel and his team. They conveniently argued that Ezekiel was not normal which was why he publicly admitted that the diamond was indeed a stone. Others queried why, according to them, the Vice President kept the alleged diamond for two days before presenting it to NMA? All those cynical guesses reminded me of a strong statement made by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of blessed memory. He said, “Sierra Leoneans are not productive wishful thinkers.”
The Director General of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) -Sahr Wonday said the appliance used to test the purported diamond is internationally recognized to test diamonds. He added that it is the same appliance dealers’ use in Antwerp, Belgium. He admitted that it was the same appliance used to test the 709 carat diamond discovered by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh which was handed over to the former APC led Government and later sold at 6.5 million United Stated Dollars in New York. It could be recalled that the diamond was the second largest ever found in Sierra Leone after the 968.9 -carat Star of Sierra Leone which was found by miners in 1972.
According to the NMA Director, the first test was conducted on a real diamond and the result was positive. The second test was carried out on the purported gem which was handed over to the government and the result was negative. He said all the tests were conducted in the full view of the miners/owners.
In a telephone interview with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communication-Mohamed RahmanSwaray, “the entire process was very transparent with the involvement of journalists and Civil Society representatives.”
He went on to say that, “the opposition All People’s Congress will not distract us with their cheap political propaganda as they are still refusing to accept the general will of the majority who voted in for a transformative leadership.” The Minister said he hates dwelling on retrogression and therefore will not further comment on false APC propaganda.
The Mining Development Chairman in Kono affirmed that “the test proved that the alleged gem was a stone and the instrument used to conduct such test is internationally accredited in the world.”
Sierra Leonean Geologist -Foday Fofana popularly known as Kophyte said, “I knew it was not a diamond even before it was handed over to the SLPP Government. A photo of the purported diamond was sent to me from Kono. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that it was fake.” He was speaking via mobile phone.
Kophyte is a Consultant who has worked with many local and international mining and exploration companies.
Asked whether it was possible to change the diamond with a fake substance, he said only polishers can do that but not within two or three working days. He explained that, “because diamonds are one of the strongest materials on the planet, it will be resistant to all heat tests with more scale hardness.”
He opined that stones that are not diamonds, such as Cubic Zirconia, will not refract light as well. They will have less brilliance, if any at all. He questioned, “was it not the same instrument used to test all the diamonds discovered during the ten years of APC rule?” He maintained that many foreign investors have been duped with fake diamonds and the Criminal Investigations Department has investigated the matter. “It is honestly not strange to see fake gem around.”
Speaking at the Vice President Conference hall in Freetown, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh informed that it was a mere stone and this was ascertained by the experts after conducting a laborious testing by the NMA and the Department of Precious Mineral Trading in Freetown. This validation process was witnessed by diamond experts, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources-Dr. Morie Manyeh, Minister of Information and Communications, journalists, diamond dealers, authorities from Nimikoro Chiefdom and other relevant stakeholders.
In an interview with the leader of the miners, he confirmed that no test was conducted before handing it over to the Government of Sierra Leone. As a team they were satisfied with the transparent and accountable process, but that their optimism was dashed. Asked why? He continued, “we were optimistic that the purported diamond was a real diamond but when the test proved us wrong we became very dissatisfied.” He said, “all is not lost but we must commend the Vice President for being very receptive.”
A story written by one Ibrahim Alusine Kamara claiming to have interviewed Ezekiel has been dismissed. “I actually didn’t speak to any journalist. I was approached by one journalist identified as Gbla from radio Democracy but I declined making a statement.” He denied that they conducted a sophisticated test similar to the one done by the NMA.
Joanna Poeck (B.Eng and MMSA) is a Principal Mining Engineer with over 10 years of domestic and international mining experience. Her expertise includes open pit and underground design, mine scheduling, pit optimization and truck productivity analysis. Project work consists feasibility, pre-feasibility studies, life of mine designs, and optimized schedules for iron ore, copper, gold, coal, diamond, potash and industrial mineral deposits.
She wrote that there are several ways to tell if a diamond is real or fake. “Find a normal sized drinking glass and fill it ¾ of the way with water. Carefully drop the loose stone into the glass. If the gemstone sinks, it’s a real diamond. If it floats underneath or at the surface of the water, you have a fake on your hands. A real diamond has high density, so the water test shows if your stone matches this level of density.
For the fog test, hold the diamond or ring between two fingers and breathe on it with a puff of air. A light fog will form on the diamond because of the moisture and heat in your breath. If the fog dissipates right away, the diamond is real. If it takes several seconds for the fog to disperse, it is likely a fake diamond. Diamonds are made of incredibly strong material and will be unresponsive to high heat. To test this, grab a drinking glass and fill it with cold water. Use a set of players or fireproof gloves to hold the stone. Heat the stone with a lighter for approximately 40 seconds, then drop the stone directly into the cold water.”
“One of the first things most people learn about diamonds is that not all are created equal. In fact, every diamond is unique. Diamonds come in many sizes, shapes, colours, and with various internal characteristics.” This is the Pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans.