Some South Africans call for the world’s largest diamond, the Star of Africa, to return to its homeland. The diamond, weighing 530 carats, is set in the royal sceptre and will be held by King Charles III at his coronation on Saturday. Discovered in South Africa in 1905, the colonial government presented the diamond to the British monarchy when South Africa was under British rule.
In light of a global conversation about returning artwork and artefacts that colonists and invaders pillaged during colonial times, some South Africans are now calling for the UK to return the diamond home. Lawyer and activist in Johannesburg, Mothusi Kamanga, has promoted an online petition for the diamond’s return, which has garnered approximately 8,000 signatures. Kamanga said, “The diamond needs to come to South Africa. It needs to be a sign of our pride, our heritage and our culture.”
The diamond, officially known as Cullinan I, was cut from the Cullinan diamond, a 3,100-carat stone mined near Pretoria. A smaller diamond from the same stone, Cullinan II, is in the Imperial State Crown worn by British monarchs on ceremonial occasions. The sceptre, the Imperial State Crown, and other crown jewels are in the Tower of London. A replica of the complete Cullinan diamond, approximately matching a man’s fist in size, is displayed at the Cape Town Diamond Museum.
While some South Africans feel strongly that the UK should return the diamond, others do not. Some have said that things have changed and don’t feel strongly about it anymore. For example, Mohamed Abdulahi, a Johannesburg resident, believes that the UK should return the diamond as colonists took it from locals when they faced oppression. On the other hand, Dieketseng Nzhadzhaba, a resident, said, “I don’t think it matters anymore. Things have changed, we’re evolving. What mattered for them in the olden days about being superior… it doesn’t matter to us anymore.”