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Diamonds in the Rough by Todd Cleveland - Book Review

4 pages
868 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Book review
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Diamonds in the Rough was written by Todd Cleveland featuring Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola from the year 1917 to 1975. The book analyses the literature on diamond mining experience in Angola. Cleveland focuses more on socio-economic and political factors of Angola which is different from other nations. Additionally, it covers remarkable changes from the earliest strings of international interest in the mineral wealth in the first millennium A.D to the Angolan independence in 1975. The primary arguments of the book are the employee's torture and corruption exercised in the mining process of the diamond. The arguments are drawn from a report written by Rafael Marques, an investigative journalist when he reported about Blood Diamonds. The book does not only focus on Angola instead it is a representation of mining operations across the region and entire Africa.

The report of Rafael Marques exposes and demonstrate the gruel conditions and violence in the production of Diamond in Angola. According to his report, the torture began in 1912 and is experienced up to date between the profit-seeking state and the private commercial partnership. Cleveland reconstructs the history of the diamond mining company "Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang) whereby he focuses on the experience of workers. From the beginning, he explains on the power imbalance and violence focusing on how Diamang managed to secure the state dormancy and obtain control over the Diamond production in Angola (Cleveland, 2015).

Todd obtained information for his research from the archives and interviews conducted on the employees whereby the response was based on the social and professionalism of the workers. On the issue of torture, the book highlight the labor strikes, trade unionism and ethnic conflict imposed by the mining operators. From the 1930s, Diamang exercised a pragmatic paternalism due to their need to recycle workers and stabilize labor force (Cleveland, 2015). The scarce population and isolation in Lunda gave the company an opportunity to exercise excess power and control over the workers. The working conditions were poor with very little pay, poor working strategies and lack of workers freedom. The company made a high profit from cheap forced labor provided by the employees. The torture reflected what the rest of nations were going through in the hands of colonialists.

In the wake of industrialization and improvement in technology, the company did not focus on mechanization instead they kept torturing the employees through hard labor. The families of the employees were forced to volunteer in the mines for them to obtain foods and security. Women were more tortured through little pay of around 5% remuneration, family burden and the companys tasks of cleaning mine kitchen jobs and working on the plantations. Also, the accommodation/ houses given to workers were poorly constructed out of mud and sticks. Through this forced labor, the company was able to enhance the worker's productivity (Cleveland, 2015, p.69). Across the book, Cleveland discusses the company-worker relationship based on the paternalism and workers occupational and social professionalism. The issue opened up new questions about the experience of workers in the forced labor regimes based on the relationship between the company and the state. The experience of workers in the mines reveals how power imbalance and violence was carried out hence strengthening the colonial rule of Portuguese in Angola and neighboring nations.

Additionally, the book analyzes how corruption and abuse of power were exercised during the mining of diamond in Lunda. The company assumed the role of the state within a state which gave them an opportunity to work with the colonists and obtain financial support. The colonial government and local officials fraudulently aided the company to hire employees. Additionally, the three main actors, Diamang, the state and the colonial rule were all guided by their power desires which were manifested in the mining and mainly through the workers. It is through the corrupt deals and abuse of power that the Diamang company was able to survive during the war of independence that took place in 1961 (Cleveland, 2015).

Diamang obtained the monopoly of the mining from the Angola state through corrupt means. Research conducted by Todd on the employees shows that the guiding principles were pragmatism, paternalism and profit hence they were ready to do everything to keep the company. The close relationship between the company and the Portuguese state contributed to the success of Diamang obtaining its monopoly (Cleveland, 2015, p.270). Consequently, workers professionalism helped strengthen the Portugal colonial rule whereby the workers acted as tools of control by both parties. Pragmatism partners began in 1930 driven by the need to recycle the workers and stabilize the workforce.


Diamond in the Rough is an excellent academic book for history and literature students. The book acts as a foundation for understanding the mining experiences in the African countries especially in the Central and Southern Africa. It is also the best basis for teaching on the social, economic and political impact surrounding the mining of minerals. It also reveals how the African companies spearheaded the colonial rule in the early 19th centuries and how the torture experienced by the workers during the colonial period.


Cleveland, T. (2015). Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 19171975. Ohio University Press.


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