The Teenage Miner, the Village and the 709-Carat Diamond That Changed Everything – by Aryn Baker (Time Magazine – August 16, 2018)

In the blazing midday sun, the yellow egg-shaped rock stood out from a pile of recently unearthed gravel. Out of curiosity, 16-year-old miner Komba Johnbull picked it up and fingered its flat, pyramidal planes.

Johnbull had never seen a diamond before, but he knew enough to understand that even a big find would be no larger than his thumbnail. Still, the rock was unusual enough to merit a second opinion. Sheepishly, he brought it over to one of the more experienced miners working the muddy gash deep in the Sierra Leonean jungle.

The pit boss’s eyes widened when he saw the stone. “Put it in your pocket,” he whispered. “Keep digging.” The older miner warned that it could be dangerous if anyone thought they had found something big. So Johnbull kept shoveling gravel until nightfall, pausing occasionally to grip the heavy stone in his fist. Could it be?

Johnbull, a gangly adolescent, could not help but fantasize about what finding a diamond of that size would mean. “In my mind, I was thinking, I will never be poor again,” he says. He thought of how he had left school at 12, after the death of his father, a farmer. He thought of his illiterate mother, who died when he was 15. And then he swore to himself that if the stone did turn out to be a diamond, he would find a way to go back to school. “Finding a big diamond is a onetime blessing,” he says. “Learning books can fix your life forever.”

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