Friday 6 August 2010

Ms Campbell has since left the building

As diva as is obnoxious
There was reluctance but one could not help but be captivated by the news that that epitome of diva was making an appearance at the war crimes trial [1] of Charles Taylor in The Hague.
For a supermodel, Naomi Campbell who a few years ago was bedecked in haute couture [2] for each day of appearance for a 5-day community service sentence in the United States to the glare of the paparazzi made exacting demands not to be photographed on her entry to and exit from the venue; one could only suppose she decided to inconvenience the tribunal as much as she felt inconvenienced.
Her appearance in the hopes of the prosecution was to link Charles Taylor to the trade in blood diamonds that were then used to arm rebels in the Sierra-Leone civil war, her testimony providing the tenuous but plausible case against the defendant whilst the defence had hoped the same testimony would be as non-committal as to rubbish the presumed culpability of the Mr Taylor.
In the end, Ms Campbell ruled the airwaves, brought focus to the trial but left most reeling with disbelief on a number of accounts.
As diva as is unconcerned
She was woken up to receive a pouch from strangers send by some unknown benefactor, she reviewed the contents and said they were “dirty-looking” stones, she told Ms Mia Farrow and her assistant Ms White about it and either of them volunteered that the gift might have come from Charles Taylor and she gave the pouch of “dirty-looking” stones to a charity in South-Africa.
Ms Campbell’s reluctance to testify might rightly or wrongly have been in fear of running the gauntlet of Mr Taylor’s hoodlums but it was interesting to note that having received diamonds which have had great value to the benefactor, a lady of her standing would have been more conversant with polished diamonds set in works of fashionable taste and quality than dirty-looking stones.
Surely, these stones (rough diamonds) were hardly the girl’s best friend, in a proverbial sense, pearls were cast at swine and they were trampled on in the mud; much more would have been appreciated of a finished work of craftsmanship in a ring, a necklace or some other fashionable accessory.
As diva as is unaffected
In a show of dead-pan condescension masquerading as ignorance, Ms Campbell volunteered she had never heard of Liberia before that encounter which in essence shows that one does not need brains or an education, talk less of geographic insight to wear good clothes and sashay down a catwalk – Ms Campbell is however no idiot by any stretch of the imagination, she is smart and wily.
She cleverly extricated herself from opprobrium by stating she was ignorant of where the gift was from, she was unaware of the value of what she had received and none the wiser when her lady friends jumped to the conclusion the stones were diamonds given by Charles Taylor.
She appeared at the trial by summons at the behest of evidence offered by her lady friends which did not tally because one talked of a stone and the other of stones but if anything, dare I say that Ms Campbell has suitably made gossips of Mia Farrow and Ms White.
As diva as is inconvenienced
For all the greater cause of humanity regarding the suffering of Sierra-Leoneans and the need to get to the truth, we might be willing to weigh the sacrifice of Ms Campbell’s inconvenience against the greater good but we forget that the whole essence of diva is to be odious, indifferent, unconcerned and be as uncooperative as one can be.
Whether Ms Campbell was a credible witness is neither here nor there but she offered the best test case of how to make yourself unbelievable under oath and frustrate the cause of justice without being implicated.
One lesson that should be learnt by these tribunals is, to strive to get at the facts and the truth but avoid as much as possible the spectacle of diva if your credibility is not to be subsumed to media feeding frenzy for celebrity over the facts and substance of your activities.
Ms Campbell has since left the building.

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