The Norman Transcript

Community News Network

November 9, 2012

In Mozambique, transforming guns into art

MAPUTO, Mozambique — Whenever Goncalo Mabunda looks at his sculptures, he wonders if any of his materials killed his uncle, a government soldier who was shot to death during Mozambique's 15-year civil war. Mabunda's sculptures are made from the bullets and rifles that fueled the conflict.

"Portions of my family, my neighbors, they all died in the war," said Mabunda, 37, glancing at a sculpture made out of a rusting AK-47 and a helmet that hangs on his wall. "How many people were killed with these weapons? This might be the one that killed some of my relatives."

Mabunda is one of dozens of artists in this southern African capital who are transforming weapons into sculptures, playing a role in preventing a resurrection of violence and instability in one of the continent's fastest growing economies. The sculptures have attracted international attention, with pieces shown in galleries in New York, Osaka, London and other cities. The Clinton Foundation and the Vatican have purchased some of Mabunda's sculptures.

The project, launched in 1995 by the Christian Council of Mozambique, had two goals: to bring peace and reconciliation to the country's divided population and to disarm the thousands of combatants who participated in the war, which left more than a million people dead. Now, two decades after a peace deal was signed, the project remains as relevant as ever. As the divide between rich and poor expands, and as businessmen and the politically connected scramble for the country's mineral wealth, many Mozambicans fear that violence could be used to rectify inequalities and advance political ambitions.

"It has been 20 years of peace, but we're still finding lots of guns. Guns are still a threat to our society," said Nicolau Luis, assistant director for the project at the Christian Council. "Our resources can become a curse. High unemployment can breed resentment. If we can cleanse our country of guns, it will be good for our future."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo