Student Activities

I. Map Exercise:

For the following exercises, use these linked blank maps: a world map, a political map of Africa, a map of Sierra Leone. The maps may be downloaded.

A. On the Map of Africa:

  1. Locate and label the three African countries where diamonds have been used to provide weapons to fight civil wars.
  2. Label the African countries that neighbor these countries.

B. On the world Map

  1. Locate and label Belgium, the major diamond trading nation in the world.
  2. Locate and label the Czech Republic, Ukraine, France and Russia. These are four European countries that sell weapons to the warring parties in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Congo.
  3. Locate and label your home country and state/province
  4. Using a colored pencil draw lines connecting Sierra Leone, the Congo and Angola with Belgium. These lines will show the flow of diamonds from Africa to Belgium.
  5. Using another color, draw a line from Belgium to your home area. This line will show the flow of diamonds from Belgium to jewelry stores in your home area.
  6. Using still another color, draw a line from the Czech Republic, Ukraine, France and Russia to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Congo, Zambia, Rwanda, and Uganda. This line will represent the flow of weapons into these countries.

C. On the Map of Liberia:

  1. Highlight the capital city Freetown.
  2. Locate and highlight the major diamond mining areas: Bo, Kenema, Kialahun, and Zimmi.
  3. Using a colored pencil, draw arrows showing the flow of diamonds into Liberia from Sierra Leone and the flow of weapons from Liberia into Sierra Leone.

II. Questions for General Discussion

  1. Based on the information provided in the featured current events article, what were the main causes for the civil war in Sierra Leone?
  2. Why do you think that the rebels used children as soldiers? What do you think can be done to help prevent children from being used as soldiers?
  3. How were and are diamonds used to promote suffering in Sierra Leone?
  4. Do you think that it would help the peoples of Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Congo, if groups of Americans would organize a boycott on diamonds exported from countries associated with the civil war in Sierra Leone and other African countries? What problems might we face in trying to organize a boycott of diamonds from Angola, Congo, or Sierra Leone?

III. Learning more about Sierra Leone, Africa, and the Diamond Connection.

    1. What has been the position of the United States government to the crisis in Sierra Leone? Student and teachers can trace U.S. policy towards Sierra Leon by visiting the Sierra Leone page in the official United States Department of State web site at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5475.htm
    2. Students and teachers can learn more about the diamond connection in Sierra Leone and other African countries by visiting different web sites.
      The New York Times ran a story on “Africa’s Gems: Warfare’s Best Friend.” This featured report can be accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/africa/040600africa-diamonds.html. Partnership Africa Canada has published a 16 page report that is quite easy to read titled “The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security.” The report can be downloaded through PAC web site: http://www.partnershipafricacanada.org/english/esierra.html. Global Witness, an international advocacy group, has played a key role in alerting the international community to the horrible impact in parts of Africa of the diamond connection.
    3. Students can learn more about Sierra Leone by visiting the Sierra Leone Web site at www.sierra-leone.org or by visiting the World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sl.html.

IV. What can we do?

Design a poster or a bulletin board display which will tell the story of the Africa diamond connection.

Write a letter to your congressional representative, your U.S. senators, the House of Representative Sub-Committee on Africa, and the Secretary of State encouraging a more active role by the U.S. government in (a) bringing about a permanent peace in Sierra Leone, and (b) providing assistance for the re-construction of Sierra Leone.

You can access the mailing and phone numbers of your congress person at the U.S House of Representatives web site: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

You can find out how to contact your U.S. Senators at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

You can send an e-mail letter to the Secretary of State at secretary@state.gov

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper alerting the readers to the conflict in Sierra Leone and the role that diamonds have played this conflict. You can also suggest actions that citizens of your community can take to help the people of Sierra Leone.

Explore ways in which individuals and groups of people, including your class, could work with international organizations that help children harmed by violence in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone web site has a comprehensive list of international organizations working in Sierra Leone.


The information you just read on Sierra Leone, including any articles linked, were written in 2000. That is now over a decade old. Conduct your own research to find out more about what is happening in Sierra Leone and with the diamond conflict now.