PHOTO: Weapons of Mozambique war morph into art for peace

July 11, 2013

By TOMOYOSHI KUBO/ Staff Writer

SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--Guns that once fueled a decades-long civil war in Africa have been refashioned into symbols for peace.

Artwork consisting of weapons from the 1976-92 Mozambique civil war are on display at the “Transforming Arms Into Art: Peace-Building in Mozambique” exhibition, which opened July 11 at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) in Suita.

When the fighting ended in 1992, a high volume of firearms remained in the country. A Christian bishop there developed a peace movement in which arms were collected and replaced with farming tools and bicycles.

Since about 1997, local artists have disassembled AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons and refashioned the bits into works of art.

Kenji Yoshida, professor of African studies at Minpaku, flew to Mozambique and asked the artists to create something he could display at the museum. The skilled artisans used hundreds of disassembled guns to produce a work portraying a family riding a bicycle.

Representing peace, the “Cycle of Life” work is a tribute to nonprofit organization Ehime Global Network. Over the years, the NPO based in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, has donated used and seized illegally parked bicycles to the African nation.

“Transforming arms into art is to take back the lives of people who might have been killed by the weapons,” said Cristovao Canhavato, one of artists who created “Cycle of Life.”

“I’d like to convey how important values such as life, love, peace, family and ties between people are.”

The 47-year-old, who hails from Zavala in southern Mozambique, came to Japan for the exhibition.

Along with “Cycle of Life,” 20 works as well as 50 information materials are being shown at the exhibit, which runs through Nov. 5. The museum is closed on Wednesdays.

By TOMOYOSHI KUBO/ Staff Writer
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Cristovao Canhavato, left, helped to create the “Cycle of Life” work on display at the National Museum of Ethnology in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on July 10. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)

Cristovao Canhavato, left, helped to create the “Cycle of Life” work on display at the National Museum of Ethnology in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on July 10. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)

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  • Cristovao Canhavato, left, helped to create the “Cycle of Life” work on display at the National Museum of Ethnology in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on July 10. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)
  • Artworks made with disused weapons by Mozambican artists are exhibited at the National Museum of Ethnology in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)
  • "Armchair" by Cristovao Canhavato (Tomoyoshi Kubo)

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