Supermodel Naomi Campbell was called to testify at the World Crime Tribunal yesterday in the Hague.
Arriving late and looking annoyed (if a bit nervous too), Campbell took the stand to recount an evening in 1997 when she was allegedly given so-called “blood diamonds” by then-Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Prosecutors say the gems offer proof that Taylor engaged in the trade of illegally mined “conflict diamonds” to help arm rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. Thousands of civilians were killed or mutilated during the fighting. Taylor stands accused of crimes against humanity before a tribunal in The Hague.
Taylor was arrested in Nigeria in 2006. His crimes -including those he willingly funded -would make your head spin. Murder, torture, maiming, rape, enslavement, the conscription of child soldiers… these are just some of the things people in Liberia and Sierra Leone have to live with, thanks to Mr. Taylor. The sight of people missing hands, arms, legs, and feet, begging in the streets, is still common. Many can’t work, and thus, can’t support themselves or their families. Others struggle with addictions, mental illness, and a plethora of physical diseases.
Back in 1997, Naomi was attending a charity event in Pretoria, South Africa with then-President Nelson Mandela. She says she was awakened later in the night by men who delivered a pouch of what she termed “very small, very dirty stones” and had no idea who they were from. She claims to have given them away to Jeremy Ratcliffe, who was then connected with Mandela’s charity, but the charity denies they ever received them (and, natch: a pouch of diamonds was recovered in his safe by police today).
Naomi testified she had no idea who gave her the stones (and didn’t ask), though Mia Farrow, also present that night, told her they were most certainly from Charles Taylor. Mia will be testifying later on in the trial, and her version of events could be a bit different.
The supermodel, who has, in the past, supported Nelson Mandela, was a very reluctant witness. Her testimony wasn’t voluntary; Ms. Mondo-Diva was handed a subpoena.
What struck me most about hearing this story was Naomi’s opening line to the Court: “I was made to be here. So obviously, I’m just, like, wanting to get this over with and get on with my life. This is a big inconvenience for me.” Really? Having no hands or arms (or feet, or legs) is an inconvenience, actually.
I wish Naomi well and I understand her fears around the safety of her family in testifying, but I wish she’d stop pretending she cares for Africa. She admitted in her testimony that she hadn’t even heard of Liberia when she met its President and (allegedly) accepted gifts from him. Um, wow.
The fashion world got a whole lot uglier for me yesterday. But in case it’s important to you, All The Rage reports that Naomi wore “a cream-colored knit ensemble from Azzadine Alaia’s spring-summer collection.” It is, I understand, the basic look for all smug supermodels who are inconvenienced by being forced to Do The Right Thing.