LATEST: Russell Simmons has hit back at BLOOD DIAMOND director ED ZWICK, who earlier this week (begs11DEC06) accused the hip-hop mogul of being a PR spokesperson for the diamond industry in Africa.
Zwick's new film, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, explores how diamond money is used to finance conflict in the continent.
Simmons, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to South Africa and Botswana paid for by the Diamond Information Center, claims conditions have improved and the sale of diamonds to fund war has dropped to just one per cent since a new process was established in 2003.
But Zwick insisted Simmons has been hoodwinked: "If you want to know about conflict diamonds, you don't go to Botswana and South Africa. You go to Sierra Leone and Angola. Russell Simmons is being embarrassed."
But Simmons hits back, telling AllHipHop.com that Zwick's film will damage Africa's legitimate diamond business: "This is the arrogance of Warner Brothers pictures. They were selfish self-centred, greedy and hurtful to the indigenous people of Africa.
"This messaging should have been changed after Nelson Mandela and other African Presidents asked Warner Brothers to change it. Period.
"I am going to continue to focus on the positive that can come out of this dialogue and work to help empower black Africa."
Simmons is referring to a letter written by former South African President NELSON MANDELA which reminding Warner Bros executives that some African countries were relying on the legitimate diamond trade to rebuild their war torn countries.