JOHANNESBURG. – Calls are growing in South Africa for Britain’s royal family to return the world’s largest known clear-cut diamond in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Known as the Great Star of Africa or Cullinan I, the diamond is cut from a larger gem that was mined in South Africa in 1905 and handed over to the British royal family by South Africa’s colonial authorities. It is currently mounted on a royal sceptre belonging to the Queen.
Demands for the return of the Great Star of Africa and other diamonds — along with calls for repatriations — have intensified since the Queen’s death. Many South Africans view Britain’s acquisition of the jewels as illegitimate.
The Queen’s death has opened up a conversation about colonialism and how it relates to her legacy. South African media has been debating ownership of the gem, along with demands for the payment of reparations.
“The Cullinan diamond must be returned to South Africa with immediate effect,” activist Thanduxolo Sabelo told local media, adding that: “The minerals of our country and other countries continue to benefit Britain at the expense of our people.”
More than 6 000 people have signed a petition asking for the Great Star of Africa to be returned and displayed in a South African museum.
A member of the South African parliament, Vuyolwethu Zungula, urged his country to “demand reparations for all the harm done by Britain” and also “demand the return of all the gold, diamonds stolen by Britain.” – CNN.com