KENEMA, SIERRA LEONE—Standing waist-deep in one of the many gravel pits that surround the city of Kenema, and struggling to fight off the harsh African sun, local diamond miner Muwomba D'akari was deeply saddened Monday to learn of Linda Hines and David Meyer's recently canceled wedding engagement.
"Dave and Lulu? But that can't be," said D'akari, who in early 2009 awoke at dawn, dragged his meager frame eight miles to work, and spent half a day digging out the precious stone used by Meyer to propose to his then girlfriend. "The two of them, they were absolutely perfect for each other. David and Linda, they were so, so in love."
"I do not understand," D'akari added before being whipped by mine supervisors for speaking aloud. "How could something like this have happened?"
The 135-pound villager, who called the broken-off engagement a "tragedy," and told reporters that "Linda was exactly what David needed when he met her," spent most of Monday afternoon trying to process the news. D'akari said he hadn't felt this upset since the time his entire family was killed during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.
"They had so much in common," the stunned diamond miner said before momentarily blacking out from extreme exhaustion and being revived minutes later. "And David, he was a Sagittarius, which makes total sense for someone like Linda. Dave even got her to pursue her writing again, which she had basically given up on after college."
"God, their poor parents," D'akari added. "Shirley was so excited for this wedding."
Though reportedly not the type to cry, due in large part to his tear ducts having atrophied after years of dehydration, D'akari wept openly as he spoke of the Ohio-area couple. From the day Meyer first stepped into that Kay Jewelers and picked out the most beautiful ring he could find, to that magical night at Da Vincenzo's when he finally got down on one knee and asked Hines to be his wife, the American pair has always filled D'akari with a sense of warmth—even hope.
"If those two can't make it work, what chance do the rest of us have?" D'akari asked as he clawed away in search of another alluvial deposit, one that would allow him to feed his family, if only for a few more days. "I'm not really a pessimist, but you hear about something like this, and you can't help but think, what's the point of even trying? I'm sorry, but this just sucks. This just really, really sucks."
Devastated by the senselessness of it all, he then looked up to the heavens, wiped several beads of sweat from his face, and summoned the strength to speak once more.
"And after all that time they spent trying to find a caterer," D'akari said. "What a nightmare."
Despite his initial shock and dismay, and what appeared to be an acute case of dysentery, the Sierra Leone villager said he could never give up entirely on the idea of two people falling in love and spending the rest of their lives together, and hopes that some of the other couples he's been able to help will fair better.
"Susan and Michael, Rebecca and Trevor, Paula and George, Rosemary and Jacob, Annabelle and Larry, Gale and Brian, Vanessa and Dale, Joyce and Jonathan, Tracy and Robert, Janet and Victor, Amanda and Harold, Sarah and Thomas, Harriet and Tom, Darla and Christopher, Luanne and William," D'akari said. "I wish them all the best of luck."