According to the great critic of bourgeois hypocrisy, Honoré de Balzac, there’s a saying that behind every great fortune is a forgotten crime, forgotten because it was done neatly. The best case scenario to exemplify such a powerful and calculated thought should be of the Oppenheimer Family, one of the South Africa’s most affluent families who currently is sitting on a fortune of $6.66 billion net worth. Though this family is one of the most respected among many, very few know about its fortune foundation been built on many African blacks’ blood. Sheer exploitation of the native blacks, to be specific.
How Oppenheimers Accumulated their Wealth on the Dead Bodies of African Blacks
The fancy lifestyle of Oppenheimer family due to its enormous wealth has been based on the grounds of various high-profile scandals and exploitations of the innocent African black natives for more than a century or so. They have been very well supported.
This family’s ultimate source of income, De Beers diamond mining company had fiercely cornered the un-peopled Namibian diamonds between 1903 – 1908 when about 10 000 indigenous Nama-speaking people who owned these diamonds were killed in an uprising against the German colonizers. It was these vast resources that then propelled his family into the pound seat among the fractious shareholders at De Beers.
Oppenheimer Staked ‘De Beers’ Illful Treatment Towards Blacks
Blacks on De Beers diamond mines were not treated as “employees” in any recognizably modern sense. They were ill-treated like bonded-labours, solely denied of any personal autonomy and basic human dignity. Their entire lives and intimacies were subject to the control by De Beers for its own purpose. At the end of the working day, they were parade naked with extended arms where guards who “scrutinised their hair, nose, mouth, ears and rectum with meticulous care”, looking for any concealed diamonds. No scope of humanity was left by De Beers towards its employees.
When the “employees” left the uncongenial De Beers Native Club during the migrant labour cycle, they were kept semi-naked in detention rooms for several days and force-fed purgatives so that they would inevitably excrete any swallowed gemstones.
This inhuman working environment created by De Beers tormented the employees till their last breathe which led to uncountable deaths of the employees which were even not registered. From 1890 to 1904, the mining industry in Southern Africa was not even required to register the death of black workers. Up to 1922, the family of a deceased worker in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) received £5, which was the equivalent of two months’ wages. The industry was literally wringing profits, through blood, from stone.
How Smartly Oppenheimers Cloaked their Illicit Colonial and Apartheid Gains
Oppenheimer’s staked De Beers have been very shrewd and disciplined while encapsulating their wealth so as to avoid any type of criticism and unwanted attention whether be it in culture, academia and media.
They hijacked all the possible sources which might dig into their historical corruptions. The primary target of Oppenheimers were the major institutions who would have dug in all its atrocities. The new central complex of the University Libraries at University of Cape Town (UCT) was renamed as the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library in order to make sure that all the research papers available in the university’s library had no mention of any illicit source of Oppenheimer’s wealth.
Thus, various systematic and useful studies about the financial conditions of South Africa over the years by many renowned authors have been intentionally not targeting De Beer’s methods of money-laundering and exploitation of Human Rights because their pens’ ink were funded by the Oppenheimer.
Apart from the University of Cape Town (UCT), this family’s influence caught hold of the great Harvard University, where the institution’s graduates were properly funded by the Oppenheimer. According to the Harvard University’s website, the Committee on African Studies offers summer travel grants to assist Harvard juniors with senior honors thesis research and Harvard graduate students doing doctoral dissertation research on Africa. The graduate student grants are funded through the generosity of the Jennifer Oppenheimer Africa Research Fund and the Provost’s Office. Such “scholars” certainly ain’t attacking Oppenheimer or De Beers.
In the early 2000s, though De Beers had smartly played all its cards to keep their crimes at bay from any kind of interrogation or investigation, yet the US Department of Justice found that company had conspired with General Electric to fix the price of industrial diamonds and booked it. De Beers resolved its alleged crimes by paying a $10-million fine to the US Department of Justice in settlement of the charge.
Over the next two years, De Beers paid more than $295-million to settle class-action suits in both the United States and worldwide which compelled De Beers to polish its moves and open its next smart card so that these exposes by the justice department won’t defame the respected Oppenheimer family.
Promptly thereafter, Jennifer Ward-Oppenheimer popped up on the Advisory Council of Harvard’s WEB Du Bois Institute of African and African-American Studies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s De Beers African Health Scholars to make sure that no research is carried on to expose the dark chapters of the century-long respected Oppenheimer legacy.
In a Nutshell
A lot of large scale historical crimes have been managed so neatly by the Oppenheimer family from decades within the South African knowledge economy. This family has been a part of millions of corruption yet is considered as one of the most respected families in South Africa. Their massive wealth is like a well-manicured lawn, over the buried bodies. It is unfortunate for South Africa that people with such criminal background represent the country!