Blood diamonds: Naomi Campbell a scapegoat?

By  | 7 August 2010 at 02:51 | 997 views

A British newspaper described her as the diva in a beehive because of her immaculate dress sense, enviable talent as a catwalk queen and a sixties type hair style (beehive) she had had done for this special occasion: her appearance at the Hague to testify at the Special Court for Sierra Leone against the former war lord, Charles Ghankay Taylor of Liberia.

Let me be clear from the onset. I am a huge fan of Naomi Campbell. Not because of her long legs, but because she kicks real arse. She belongs to the Malcolm X school: By Any Means Necessary!

Born to a troubled fatherhood in Streatham, South London, Naomi’s meteoric rise to fame as a catwalk queen is exemplary. Her undoing however is a mercurial temperament which has got her into lots of trouble in both the USA and England.

Adore though I do of this talent, I was on this occasion whole heartedly supporting Mama Sierra Leone; praying silently that her enemies be exposed at the international stage. On that morning (05 August), I called time off work just to witness the historic occasion unfold live on television. Sitting there on my couch, I listened to Sky’s Alex Rossi reveal that the momentum the trial had gathered was unprecedented, with a turn out of over three hundred journalists, not mentioning the countless paparazzi. Not surprised. The same western media who made Naomi a star and a monster had descended to, this time, feed off her misery.

When the supermodel arrived, albeit late, the media scrambled to pick out of her what would make news and good photo journalism that will earn them some quids. The cameras, though barred from entering the court room (except for the court photographer who was allowed one minute to take pictures), trailed her every movement, attire; cream coloured and tight fitting, her beehive hair style and even her necklace, a pendant with the ‘The evil eye’, which the press were quick to value and attribute to a talismanic charm to fight off evil (but thank goodness, London’s Metro could only offer 28p for it). My God! Here was a witness on trial for the mass murder and mutilations of thousands of my compatriots, and all the foreign press could do was make a fortune out of it. I was getting furious now…

But when Naomi, 40, took the stand, what maybe the press were hunting for were all gone. Her volatile temper was curbed, her disposition respectable, her manners right for the setting and her answers direct and helpful. Thanks to the tutelage of…..I don’t know who. ‘A super witness’, the hawk-like media called her. No wonder the President of the Court, Justice Sebutinde heartily thanked her at the end.

Asked by the Prosecution if she was nervous, Naomi Campbell answered with emotion: ‘I did not really want to be here. I was made to be here. Obviously, I want to get this over with and get on with my life.’ (So do we, love, but first did you or did you not receive the large stone? I urged internally).

Then Naomi dropped the penny, but with a different twist. Where Mia Farrow in a written statement claimed that it was a large stone, Naomi conceded that she did receive some ‘dirty looking little stones’, given to her in a pouch, in the middle of the night by (wait!), not Charles Taylor as alleged by Mia Farrow, and as the Special Court would have loved to hear, but by two black men, who knocked at Naomi Campbell’s grace and favour room at the Presidential lodge in South Africa. The men just gave it to her and said it was a gift, but with no note. Charles Taylor, the old rogue was at work!

Cross examined by Courtenay Griffiths QC, Charles Taylor’s defence counsel, Naomi revealed that she never kept the ‘dirty stones’ for herself, and that they were in her possession for only six hours. According to her, she gave the stones to a close friend of hers and told him to do well with them. Step forward Jeremy Ratcliffe. (BREAKING NEWS: As I am typing this piece, news has just filtered in that Mr. Ratcliffe has handed over the diamonds to South African police.).

Mr. Ratcliffe was head of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in South Africa. He was given the stones, according to Naomi, to help improve the lives of children. What an irony. While the Sierra Leonean children where being amputated and killed, Charles Taylor, because of his barbaric promiscuity, was hypocritically playing Santa Claus. Whatever Jeremy Ratcliffe’s intentions were, remain unknown. He represents yet again, one of the leeches who fed off pampered prima donnas like Naomi Campbell.

In her testimony, evidence that caught my eyes was the photo that exposed her accomplices in all their true colours. I knew their faces by heart, because I had sent a cropped version of that to HQ (The Patriotic Vanguard). As Naomi named and shamed them under an overhead to the court, I shouted their names aloud along side her head count. All were ‘A list’ celebrities, except for one odd ball the devil’s incarnate; ZZZ lister- Charles Ghankay Taylor. The roll call include, from left to right of the evidential photo: Jemima Khan, Imran Khan, Naomi Campbell, Charles Ghankay Taylor, Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, Gracia Machel, Quincy Jones and his significant other, Mia Farrow and actor Tony Leung. Charles Taylor? What in the name of God was he doing there anyway? How could Madiba dine with the devil, at a time (1997) when Sierra Leoneans were perishing? Funny how some Pan African torchbearers can waver at times. This act of betrayal brings to mind Rev. Jesse Jackson who once referred to Foday Sankoh as the Mandela of Sierra Leone. Well, if that is how Mandela’s mind works, maybe, the Reverend was right after all.

Back to the Courtenay and Naomi encounter. Almost succeeding in getting his man off the noose, Mr. Griffiths now turned his attention to the perceived parasites of Naomi. He succeeded in getting the court to believe that Carol White, Naomi’s former agent who was with her at the South African dinner, had a motive to lie that Naomi was actually given the large diamond by Charles Taylor. Why? Because Naomi and her former agent, are presently engaged in a legal tussle. So what about Mia Farrow’s testimony? Naomi gave the impression that she was a victim of a witch hunt by the two. That Mia Farrow had always wanted to have close contact with her, but she had always avoided her. The question is, if Mia knew about that diamond thirteen odd years ago, why did she have to wait till now to say it? Is it a fame game? A get-at-her stunt? Whatever their shenanigans, they are of little use to our country. The celebrity game had its day in court, and it seems the winner for now is ZZZ lister Charles Taylor. Courtenay Griffiths aptly summed it up in a press conference, “Naomi Campbell blew in their face”. And he is right. It is not the “dirty stones” as a nation we want, but to nail the celebrity rogue, for crimes he clearly committed.

The special court can do better than that. In 2003, Charles Taylor bluffed his way through their warrant of arrest for him in Ghana. He is now messing them up big time right in their own backyard. So far, the only evidence they have against their suspect is that of a man who said he saw Charlie with a jar full of diamonds. By his standards, Mr. Griffiths will squash that with a stroke of the pen, when he comes to summing up his case. Why did they waste all this time waiting for the evidence of a small fry like Naomi Campbell to nail a hardened criminal? Somewhere, out there, there is evidence in abundance among bigger players. Investigate the Sandlines, De Beers, Executive Outcomes, Ghurkas, anyone and any devil that had close contact with the war lord. But whatever you do, Charles Ghankay Taylor should not go free.

You know it makes sense!