Inside the rebel-held diamond mines of Sierra Leone


Since my student days at the London School of Economics (LSE), I wanted to find out what "The coming anarchy" (Robert Kaplan) in West Africa really looks like. So I went to Sierra Leone, a failed nation ravaged by a ten-year civil war. As the first Western journalist, I made it to the Koidu diamond mines deep inside the bush, then controlled by the notorious rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). An attempt to interview Charles Taylor, the Liberian dictator suspected of running the "blood diamond" trade, got me arrested and expelled from the country. Travelling on to Nigeria, I did my first oil story on the fight of a Niger Delta tribe against the environmental havoc caused by the Shell oil corporation.