The story begins.
“Please don’t let me suffer any longer…”-Jacinto Antonio
The African bush is home to many indigenous families living off the land by whatever means and opportunities are presented to them. The “Machamba” way of life, planting and harvesting of the field, brings the majority of families food and income needed to sustain their humble lives.
I had the opportunity to get to know one indigenous man’s story, a story of struggle, opportunity, and triumph.
Jacinto Antonio – Diakama – Jacama
Nearing 40 years of age Jacama tells his story…
Born in bush and struggling are common in the African wilderness, however with many mouths to feed at times the struggle can become unbearable. The international mining operations are one of the last industries taking the necessary steps to employ the local people outside major cities. The surrounding villages benefit tremendously from their presence as they take an active interest in working alongside them.
When the team first arrived in the small village at the base of Luluti, they were welcomed by a crowd of red earth-covered smiles; and a team of geologists and surveyors were tasked with laying out the borders of the territory. Their best bet was to employ a local person who knew the more than 1000 acres of land.
Jacinto Antonio was employed as the most knowledgable local who could also speak Portuguese and the local dialect Makua.
After many weeks of surveying and laying out the land Jacinto’s contract and obligations had been fulfilled. On his last ride home on his final day with the surveyors, he turned to Douglas Lima, the coordinator, and said “Please don’t let me suffer any longer, please give me work.”
Jacinto had proved to be honest and trustworthy, and a knowledgable leader as well as a respectable member of the village. He would forever be made a part of the mining operation and this would change his life.
I was introduced to Jacama at the sorting plant where he was positioned at the end of the line to gather any precious stones that had made their way past the other sorters. Jacama, never prideful or boastful, knew he had the most important seat in the house. He had the last pair of eyes on any stone going through the sorting facility, and he did not take that responsibility lightly.
He was instructed to take me on an expedition around the territory, to see the mine sites as well as the active pegmatite mining locations. He had made it his mission to watch over me and take me through the bush safely. After a 30km hike, we had visited all the points I could handle for the day.
He is the warrior who emerged from behind to now stand out in front.
-Kevin Ferreira, Gemologist, Author