Thursday, February 21, 2013 (Day 43)
"So you will take diamonds back to the UK for me?"
This conversation is such a cliche that I cannot help but laugh. It is my final evening in Salone, and Charlie and Dorset Alex have taken me to a beach party at a bar on Lumley Beach.
The gentleman in question claims to be the son of a very important paramount chief from somewhere out east.
"You take diamonds to England for me; I make you very rich." This conversation is so reminiscent of a scene from the film 'Blood Diamonds' (a tale about diamonds and the civil war in Sierra Leone) that I look around to see whether Charlie or Alex or Jack have asked this bloke to wind me up for a laugh. Clearly they haven't.
"Listen my friend, unfortunately I fly to England tomorrow so it isn't possible."
"OK, when you come back we will discuss this." and with that my would be brother in crime gives me one of those characteristic triple Sierra Leonean handshakes, which ends with a knuckle-to-knuckle high five.
Without diamonds, it is highly unlikely that Charles Taylor could have plunged both Liberia and Sierra Leone into decades of conflict between 1989 and 2003. Diamonds were a source of wealth, entrapment and military funding which allowed the Western African civil wars to fester on for years, killing tens of thousands.
Many of my expat friends are here partying tonight, giving me the chance to have a final beer with the likes of Danielle and Doctor Jack.
When, in the midst of an alcoholic haze, a lady of the night asks me to go for a stroll on the deserted beach with her at around 1am, I am happy that Alex suddenly suggests we call it a night and go home. I think I will pass on the diamond smuggling and beach sex.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a two-month voluntary placement in January 2013.