Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Revised versions of Ch 1 and Ch 2


Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
December 2004

"That’s her! That is Heart of Diamonds.There’s no one in the world like her. She is as unique as a scarlet diamond and tougher than steel to negotiate with," remarked a Belgian diamond merchant, in an undertone, to his colleague, a trader from Dubai.

She glided past them and made a slight acknowledgement of their presence. The folds of her white silk robe swished softly in the wind. The handle of her white leather handbag, which was studded with small F grade diamonds, glittered in the morning sun. She was shod in brilliant white leather sandals; its high heels carved in ebony wood, encrusted with gold dust here and there. Her sculpted head was turbaned in white with a large fancy pink gem adorning its center.

"Heart of Diamonds is a fitting name for the young woman. Diamonds are the hardest substances on our planet,” murmured the Arab jeweler.

"She is spellbinding just the same," whispered the Belgian.

“In the Arab world our poets compare her to the Queen of Sheba,” added the trader from Dubai.

Diamanthe was her name, and she always dressed in white. She was aware of the effect it had on people, especially men. For Diamanthe was as black as the darkest night in blackest Africa – the Congo.

To quote Lord Byron, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know English poet, "She walked in beauty like the night."

Diamanthe was like a giant polished trunk of an ebony tree. She was proud of her Negritude.”

"I have often been told that I have an exquisitely sculpted head. I believe it. No wigs or any of that rubbish to straighten my hair. Jamais! Never. I think I will either go bareheaded with diamonds stuck here and there in my Afro- bob or wear white turbans studded with fancy diamonds."

Naked she was one meter and eighty-two inches in height. Round, wide shoulders, small and delicate bones with a tiny waist that glided softly into well-proportioned buttocks and a high derriere. Her fine bosom and cleavage was always adorned with tear shaped diamonds. She possessed a long torso and legs that never seemed to end. Intense hazel eyes, which appeared yellow against her black skin, reminded her friends and foes alike of a coiled serpent poised to strike when you least expected it.

"Only diamonds for me, ma Cher,” she always declared to anyone who listened.

Her tapered nails, painted in silver and white nail polish, contained the tiniest of diamond crusts. The Pythoness Mangana, who lived in Malemba Nkulu, hundreds of miles away from Kinshasa created the polish just for Diamanthe. It was said to contain incantations and omens. The diamonds gave of tiny lights detected only by Heart of Diamonds.

Whenever she was with clients the lights told her if she had someone truly interested in acquiring diamonds and gems or if they were just bluffing and fishing. More importantly, their phosphorescent light warned her if the individual before her had a good or mal-intentioned heart.

I know that I am the best publicity and advertisement for all diamonds. I am in a position to show off the most fabulous gems, on my fingers, neck, wrists, waist, ankles and toes. The mortal men, who are privileged to see my nearly naked body by my swimming pool, will swear that I wear a twenty-five carat blue diamond on my cleavage. A slim belt encircles my waist studded with baguettes. An inverted pendant of D flawless diamonds reposes majestically on my mound of Venus.

"If you truly wish to see the phosphorescence of a D flawless blue diamond, place it against gorgeous black velvet skin," thus spoke Baron Etienne Duvalier, over two hundred years ago.

Duvalier, a ruthless maven, represented all the interests of His Majesty, King Leopold ll of Belgium. Its absolute Master, the King, in the person of his minions, had the power of instant death. His rapacity for blood and gore, were outmatched only by his lust for diamonds, gold, emeralds, sapphires…anything and everything that the Belgian Congo, as it was then known, possessed. Legend has it that Baron Duvalier wore a belt buckle studded with D flawless square cut diamonds, which formed the letter P – for Plunder.

"Most of all, my formidable nose for "les affaires" centered on the business of ebony. As you know my dear colleagues," Duvalier wrote to the British guilds," the word ebony is a double entendre for the rare, precious wood, which abounds in the rain forests and jungles and the slave labor, which always outruns the fertility of their soil."

Back to present day Kinshasa, at the Atelier “Heart of Diamonds”, Diamanthe would slowly and in a low pitched voice, tell her greedy clients,” You realize mon cher clients that you cannot hide your anxiety from me. You wish to buy the best diamonds but at rock bottom prices.”

She was facing Belgian and Arab dealers who were attempting to haggle over each and every gem endlessly. They had been doing it for a quarter of a century and they were skillfull in the art of bargaining.They hoped to tire her out. Never!

"Unless I take a decisive course of action, the meeting will run into the next one. My timetable and earnings will surely be affected, to say nothing of my image."

At this point of the meeting, Diamanthe would rise slowly from her straight backed gilded chair, like a majestic Venus from the diamond studded mines deep in the bowels of the earth.

"I am aware of my country’s bloody history and the plunder which continues to this day. You see before you, a smart black woman, lady, and cookie, whatever you wish. I know all the mark ups, and the tricks. The best crooks and criminals were my teachers. That is not a secret. So, you know and I know that we are both getting a good deal. If you are not convinced, I believe the expression is “take it or leave it."

Heart of Diamonds would not wait for the shocked clients’ reply; she would be on her way out of her austere atelier. She made them run after her.

"Bien Sure. Certainly. We accept!”

I feel a sense of poetic justice that the mzungis / rich foreigners – white, yellow, brown, and mixed color pallette, depend on the good graces and the smart ethical moves of a black woman, to obtain the best cut and uncut gems in the African continent, she mused contentedly.

Yes indeed! Diamanthe - Heart of Diamonds was a shining young black woman who by sheer force of will became the most successful dealer of cut and uncut diamonds as well as of other gems in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo is the heart of Africa. It has ever been thus.

Most certainly, in good and bad times Diamanthe used her acute and creative intelligence judiciously. She loved her brothers and sisters without measure, which, was also a driving force towards success. She was endowed with an uncanny knack for choosing the right lover, protector and partner. Loyalty in an extremely volatile and duplicitous business carried great financial rewards. Heart of Diamonds cultivated her clients with care and charmed them with an almost brutal candor.

"Heart of Diamonds had zenze,” pronounced the ancient members of the Baluba tribe.

Long before the Romans as the first white men in recorded history ever-set foot in Africa; the Baluba roamed the continent at will, conquerors, visionaries, and miners of diamonds, seers, magicians and sorcerers all. After many wars and expeditions they chose the Congo as their special region. The magicians and sorcerers had seen the whole continent of Africa in a series of visions.

"This is where we shall live and settle down, in the heart of our continent, where the heart would be if the land were human. That is how the Congo will come to be."

"Zenze meant that in addition to positive attributes which outshone your negative ones, all living creatures had the capacity to endure whatever the fates brought you. If you endured, you had zenze and emerged victorious. If you lacked zenze the Congo swallowed and re-absorbed you," so stated the Baluba.

Marcel de Merode, a wealthy Belgian mercenary, sold Zizu de Merode, a ten-year-old enchanting beauty, endowed with turquoise eyes, for 20,000 Pounds Sterling without so much as a qualm or a twitch of conscience; She thought he might have been her father. He knew otherwise. Flora her mother was one of his concubines, but he could never rein her in. She had always enjoyed numerous lovers.
Hours after his return to Kinshasa, from a six months absence, Flora had told him boldly, "I am expecting a child by another man. I will never reveal the name of my child’s father and plan to take the secret to my grave. I have enough money from him so that you need never humiliate me about monetary expenses. I am just six weeks along so your precious face and male pride will be spared any chinks in it."
Marcel had been part of an expeditionary and mercenary force, led by General de Clerk into Sierra Leone. Their principal motive was plunder. The orders had come from their Pay Master, Gerard Reiserman, a Belgian businessman who crisscrossed New York, Antwerp and Africa in his private Bombardier. He was a gems dealer, collector, and confidante of Presidents Johnson of Sierra Leone, Taylor of Liberia, and more importantly of Laurent Kabila, President of the Congo.
It was murmured in fear and in reverence, that not a hand moved in the diamond and sapphire mines without Reiserman’s blessing. He wanted a large stockpile of diamonds and sapphires removed from Sierra Leone and taken to the Congo. Reiserman knew he could trust Marcel de Merode more than the other mercenaries. He never stooped so low as to pilfer diamonds because his instincts told him his mangled corpse would be fed to the ravenous crocodiles that endlessly cruised the Congo River in search of human meat. "I am a professional killer and thief, of the highest caliber. De Merode does not rob chickens."
When Flora, was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, de Merode sent her away to a clinic to die. It had been ten years since he last bedded Flora, when she had gleefully informed him she was pregnant and not by him. Her ferocious and atavistic sexuality terrified de Merode; he was relieved not to couple with her ever again. He showed his dislike bordering on disdain of Zizu, fruit of her pregnancy by ignoring her on his good days and being rude if not cruel to her on his dark days.
He hastened to sell Zizu to a representative of Prince Naim bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia. His Royal Highness was desperate for new blood. He needed it quickly to re-invigorate his mentally defective, deranged and disease ridden in bred line. He was not alone. All the so-called royal houses in the Persian/Arabian Gulf had piss poor protoplasm – in other words a depleted gene pool.
"My sons and daughters are coupling with their cousins. I realize we need to cement alliances with the tribes; I myself have done so, but I think it’s time to rethink this policy of mating only among our select group of relatives. We don’t breed our horses, falcons and camels in the same incestuous way we produce our families and clans … it is reckless. We know better."

Zizu was fortunate. The aged Prince Naim welcomed his beautiful slave and investment kindly. One glimpse of her eyes and he declared,” Henceforth you shall be called Turkhasa, like the gem we call Turkhas (turquoise) He had his best and brightest son Karim aged thirteen, in mind for her, once her blood began its flow (her menses)

In the meantime, she would attend the madrassah for girls, and learn the holy Qu’ran in classical Arabic. Prince Naim had gifted her with a necklace of the largest turquoise spheres money could buy. His agents had scoured all of Iran for months to find them. It was a country the size of Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined.

She was allowed to keep the cross of rough blue and white diamonds, which her Mama had given her, provided she kept it out of sight. This singled her out as someone unique, and nurtured envy, jealousy and hate among her classmates and the future wives of Prince Karim bin Naim bin Nayef.

"Inshallah, she will make a good fourth wife for Karim. The other three wives would still come from the same gene pool," he sighed deeply and with regret.

This is very stupid politics for in the end our heirs are unfit and inept to govern. They are only good at copying the vices of the west, like gambling, womanizing, drinking, snorting cocaine, stuffing their veins with morphine and corrupting their lungs with tobacco.

Prince Naim was aware that his eldest son Salim, who would celebrate his seventeenth birthday soon, was being broken into the ways and mores of coupling in the west.

"I agreed to what I consider perverse acts, we are forbidden to seek out pleasure with women other than our own wives. But Salim’s women have complained to their mothers that his sexual sword is too big and painful to accommodate them. Salim has a cruel streak; I have always feared that. The harlot, I cannot bring myself to say her odious name, (Candy) is under orders from her Western Master to train him in techniques, which I hope will induce his wives to receive his organ with less tension and more serenity."

He pondered that this was the principal reason why he gave the entrancing Congolese Zizu, henceforth to be known as Turkasa to his son Karim.
Karim has a good- sized piece of procreative flesh and he is gentle with his wives, so I have heard.

"It is a small step I have taken with Turkhasa. She is as fertile as the Nile and the Congo Rivers. Bright. Wise. Kind. Brave. Loving. She will give us many sons and daughters who will be extraordinary in every way. Inshallah," he told his son Karim.

He gazed at him for a long time. Father and son spoke through their eyes. Sometimes what is not said carries more value than words. Silence can be a potent language.

“Our society is polluted and contaminated. Our leaders are venal, debauched and depraved. Am I nothing but an old wishful dreamer out of step with all the rest? Bribable, corrupt and dishonorable men govern our country. It was easy for the Anglo-Americans monsters that call the shots to turn many of them into wicked and immoral people.

“The fault lies with us. We had a choice, once, nearly 110 years ago. We decided on Sin,” mused Karim. I am a youth possessed of idealism. Will it be of any use?”

Prince Nayef broke the silence. “She cost me the equivalent of a luxurious car like a BMW. Mind it’s not the price we must think of but also the value. Therefore, learn to cherish Turkhasa, my beloved son.”

“Yes Babba, I shall love her.”

For centuries, the Al Nayef clan had been prosperous merchant Bedouins. The Prince’s grandfather had come from Yemen at the urging of his blood cousin, Abdel Aziz Ibn-Saud who needed support in his fight for control of the vast country of Arabia. With the unending financial and military assistance from the British bankers and secret agents, he had defeated all his enemies, most of whom were clansmen. Then, in a gesture fraught with destiny and blood, he had ensured that his country would henceforth be known as Saudi Arabia. That was his name - Abdel Aziz Ibn-Saud (son of Saud). Of such stuff are dynasties created.

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