×
South African activists call for the UK to return the 500-carat 'Great Star of Africa' diamond

South African activists call for the UK to return the 500-carat 'Great Star of Africa' diamond

Scholars believe that Britain's acquisition of the diamond was not legitimate and should not have been allowed. The diamond, a prized gem, has been sitting on the royal scepter for more than a century.

The South African colonial authorities handed the British royal family Cullinan I, a 500-carat diamond cut from a much bigger stone mined in South Africa in 1905. Scholars believe that Britain's acquisition of the diamond was not legitimate and should not have been allowed. The diamond, a prized gem, has been sitting on the royal scepter for more than a century.

The passing of the queen has brought about important conversations about colonialism and its connection to her legacy in many commonwealth countries. Because the ownership of the gem has been questioned by many South Africans, the passing of the queen served as a spark, with increasing calls in South Africa for the British royal family to give back the biggest known clear-cut diamond. Demands for the return of the Great Star of Africa and other gems are accompanied by appeals for repatriations, according to CNN.



 

 

A petition calling for the return of the Great Star of Africa and its exhibition in a South African museum has already received more than 6,000 signatures. Vuyolwethu Zungula, a South African lawmaker, asked his nation to "demand reparations for all the harm done by Britain" and to "demand the return of all the gold, diamonds stolen by Britain."

The Cullinan diamond was delivered to King Edward VII (the British monarch during that period), according to the Royal Collection Trust, which is in charge of the British royal family's royal collection, in 1907, two years after it was found at a private mine in South Africa's former Transvaal region. "It was sent to Asscher of Amsterdam to be cleft in 1908," it added, "In its natural state, the 3106-carat Cullinan was a diamond of exceedingly rare quality the size of a human heart. It was, undoubtedly, the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered." The Cullinan diamond was divided into 96 smaller fragments and nine larger diamonds. King Edward VII gave the largest stone the name "Great Star of Africa" and gave the name "Smaller Star of Africa" to the second-largest cut stone. The second cut stone was installed in the Imperial Crown, while the bigger diamond was set in the Sovereign's Scepter with Cross. These diamonds have been worn by Queen Elizabeth II in several pictures.



 

 

The Royal Asscher claims that the diamond was bought by South Africa's Transvaal government, governed by British sovereignty, and given to King Edward VII as a birthday gift, supporting the British monarchy's claim to the rare diamond. Everisto Benyera, a professor of African politics at the University of South Africa, disputes this claim. He characterizes colonial transactions as "illegitimate and immoral." 

"Our narrative is that the whole Transvaal and Union of South Africa governments and the concomitant mining syndicates were illegal," Benyera argued, claiming that merely "receiving a stone" does not absolve the receiver. He says, "The Great Star is a blood diamond ... The private (mining) company, the Transvaal government, and the British Empire were part of a larger network of coloniality."

"The Cullinan Diamond must be returned to South Africa with immediate effect," activist Thanduxolo Sabelo told local media, adding that, the minerals of South Africa and other countries "continue to benefit Britain at the expense of our people."



 

 

"The late Queen of England has flaunted these (diamonds) for over half a century," said Leigh-Ann Mathys, a national spokeswoman for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a South African opposition political party. "Our call is for repatriations for all colonial theft, which the theft of the Great Star of Africa is a part of. We don't call for its return, as this implies that there was a valid agreement in terms of which the British royal family was borrowed the diamond. It is in their possession purely as a result of colonial tenacities that suffocated natives in this country and elsewhere," Mathys explained.



 

Recommended for you