An African church minister in Sierra Leone was recently searching for minerals to supplement his income when he inadvertently discovered something unexpected — one of the largest diamonds ever found.
Emmanuel Momoh unearthed the impressive 709-carat stone in an artisanal mine earlier this week, and industry analysts believed it to be the 13th largest uncut diamond ever pulled from the ground, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
Momoh, however, did not keep the large diamond. Instead, he handed it over to the Sierra Leone government for auction — an act some have attributed as an effort to distance himself from Sierra Leon’s blood-stained history in diamond mining.
In fact, the Kono district where the minister discovered the diamond was at the center of the country’s 11-year civil war that ended in 2002, but not before tens of thousands of enslaved Sierra Leone citizens were forced to dig for diamonds to fund a warlord’s rebellion.
Those who refused to dig for Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front faced punishments such as having their limbs, ears and genitals cut off or their eyeballs gouged out. More than 100,000 people were killed and tens of thousands more were maimed before Great Britain intervened in 2000, which helped the government defeat the rebellion.
Although Momoh’s diamond was the biggest to be found in Sierra Leone since 1972, according to BBC, the exact value of the stone had not yet been determined.
Lucara Dimond reported in May 2016 that an 813-carat diamond found in Botswana had been sold for $63 million.
The diamond, which was roughly the size of a hockey puck, was transported to President Ernest Bai Koroma before being locked away at Central Bank in Freetown, according to Complex.
Koroma promised that the auction of the diamond would be transparent and that Momoh would be rewarded for his big find.
As this African minister and countless others who’ve stumbled across hidden valuables can attest, the world is full of treasures.
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