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South Africans want huge diamond in British crown jewels returned

Some South Africans are calling for Britain to return the world’s largest diamond, known as the Star of Africa, which is set in the royal scepter that King Charles III will hold at his coronation on Saturday.

The diamond, which weighs 530 carats, was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and presented to the British monarchy by the colonial government in the country, which was then under British rule.

Now amid a global conversation about returning artwork and artifacts that were pillaged during colonial times, some South Africans are calling for the diamond to be brought back.

“If he wants to be a recognized monarchy, a respected monarchy by the African people, it would be wise of him to return what was taken from us without our consent,” said Mothusi Kamanga, a lawyer and activist in Johannesburg who has promoted an online petition, which has gathered about 8,000 signatures, for the diamond to be returned.

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Others said they didn’t feel strongly about it.

“I don’t think it matters anymore. Things have changed, we’re evolving,” said local resident Dieketseng Nzhadzhaba. “What mattered for them in the olden days about being superior… it doesn’t matter to us anymore.”

Officially known as Cullinan I, the diamond in the scepter was cut from the Cullinan diamond, a 3,100 carat stone that was mined near Pretoria. A smaller diamond cut from the same stone, known as Cullinan II, is set in the Imperial State Crown which is worn by British monarchs on ceremonial occasions. Along with the scepter, it is kept with the other crown jewels in the Tower of London.

There has been no request by either the British government nor its monarchy for South Africa to return its Kimberley to Vryburg railway, which, over 150 years after it was built by the British, still ranks as the most efficient means of transport for the conveyance of bulk freight over medium and long distances and for mass commuter traffic.

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