Lesotho Mountain Kingdom

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Picture the Lesotho Mountain Kingdom in South Africa. Somewhere peaceful, unspoilt, not polluted like New York with it's factories and smoke and trash, just picturesque mountains in a land rich with culture. There, the diamond business flourishes. 50% of diamonds found there are over 10 carats, which should make the inhabitants wealthy, but they are not. They work like dogs and the aids epidemic greatly effects the area.
In this area lives a man named Tano, his wife Mandisa, and her sister Kizzy. Kizzy is twelve years old and has aids. Kizzy and Mandisa's parents died in their early forties, when Mandisa married Tano and insisted on getting a job with him. That way, she'd have the oppurtunity to make enough money to have Kizzy treated by a doctor, and maybe even to pay for medicine. Every day they work long hours under the hot sun and over the rough rocks. They'd find diamonds, but were barely paid- Clifford Elphick owned the mines and made the profits. He rarely appeared in this area and grew richer every day. He lived a fine life, smoking expensive cigars, blowing smoke as if it were the ashes of the workers he exploiited who died by the dozen from aids and other diseases.
Every day, workers would find huge diamonds and hand them over to businessmen, then return to their modest homes. Today, Mandisa sorted through the heavy rocks and saw something sparkle. She unearthed it, and when she noticed it's sized, she screamed and screamed. Other workers worriedly ran to her, fearing that she was electrocuted. They arrived to see a dark-skinned woman with a sparkling white stone the size of a golf ball.
Through sweat and tears of excitement on her face, Mandisa saw a man in the center of the mob holding a gun.
She said:
Be thrilled, not afraid
Of this wondroud rock
I now can pay for Kizzy's aid
Please withhold your shock

The man replied:
Kizzy is not alone
In sickness or in pain
We will kill to have this stone
You'll never breathe again.

Mandisa then gave up hope of her sister's relative health. She handed over the stone out of fear of her life.

Later, Tano asked her if she had a good day. She shrugged and answered, "The usual."



The stone was the largest diamond found in this century. It is called the Lesotho Promise at 601 carats. It was sold at an auction in Antwerp, Belgium for $12.4 million, and after it was cut, it raked in over $20 million. At that price, medical bills could be paid, starving villagers can be fed, but alas, this is a sad story, and it was not so. All of the money went to wealthy Europeans who see such struggles as AIDS in the news but cannot comprehend the loss of lives on such a massive scale. Women wear such diamonds on their necks without understanding that people are deprived of the most basic human right: that of life.
As for the characters in this story, Mandisa continued to work until she was able to pay for Kizzy to have relatively "proper" healthcare. Kizzy did well for the time being. At this point, Mandisa is no longer able to pay for medicine, and Kizzy's very survival is at jeopardy, but they do not mourn yet. They are aware of something that us with such long life spans are not: Life is precious, and the present moment is extremely valuable. Mandisa, Tano, and Kizzy are taking life day by day. We can all learn something from these heroes.





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