Akon Blasts Diamond Detractors
The Smack That rapper defends his right to own a diamond mine...
Rapper Akon has defended his decision to purchase a South African diamond mine, in an exclusive interview with MTV UK News - and told us the issue of 'blood diamonds' has been manipulated by the media.
'Blood' or 'conflict' diamonds - those mined and traded by rebel groups in war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia and used to buy weapons to continue the fighting - have been a political hot potato recently.
And with more and more high-profile voices raising awareness of the topic - Kanye West in his track 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone', and the recent Oscar-nominated film, Blood Diamond - the issue of sporting the precious stones as a status symbol has become a particularly thorny one in the hip hop community.
Akon whose mine is fully legitimate said the argument has been blown up out of proportion however and that Kanye and Nas - another critic of the illegal trade - need to do more research.
"They are talking about it and havent even been there. What are they talking about? The are talking about what they heard in the press and on TV, what they are seeing in the movie," he said.
Amnesty International claims four million people have died in wars fuelled by the trade in blood diamonds, however Akon thinks the situation has been blown out of proportion.
"Now its more stable then that. Im sure in certain mines and in certain areas there's probably some illegal activity going on, so I will not sit there a defend no mine, period. But at the same time, in any corporation there is a lot of illegal activity going on," said the 'Smack That' rapper.
"If I had to put emphasis on anything, I would talk about the damn oil. I would call that 'blood oil'. The oil is killing more people. Diamonds is the least of our worries. All that (attention on the diamond trade) is really to (detract) you from what is really going on."
Despite the controvertsy, the diamond industry maintains there are very few conflict diamonds around and that legal diamond trade ploughs money back into the country they came from.
Akon said his mine: "fell into his lap".
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Talking to the right person about jewellery. He was a son of a mine owner. He was trying to get rd of it. I was like (cher-ching). I was like, how much you asking for? He mentioned his price. It was pretty expensive."