A Digital Curiosity Cabinet

Throne of Weapons made by the Rembrandts of the Mozambique Civil War

Throne of Weapons, Mozambique Civil War

Throne of Weapons, Mozambique Civil War, British Museum

This throne is made from decommissioned weapons from the Mozambique civil war, which took place from 1977 to 1992. The war claimed over a million lives and left 5 million people displaced. After the war ended the Bishop Dinis Sengulene had an idea about how to solve the problem of the continuing presence of millions of weapons in Mozambique. It was inspired by a biblical reference – according to Isiah 2:4, ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.’ The ‘Transforming Arms into Tools’ programme was set up by the Christian Council of Mozambique and Christian Aid. The idea was that people could hand in their weapons in exchange for useful tools, such as sewing machines, ploughs, and bicycles. If children found unused bullets, they could exchange them for school pens and exercise books. A group of 500 farmers collected and handed in 500 guns, in return for a tractor. No questions were asked.

More than 600,000 weapons have now been handed in to be destroyed. Many guns were simply melted down, but others provided the raw materials for a group of artists in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Parts of machine guns were turned into animals and birds. Rifle barrels, gunstocks and carbines were transformed into the tree of life.

The artist Kester created The Throne of Weapons, with arms, legs, and back made out of sawn off AK 47s, and other guns. None of these guns were made in Mozambique. The war was fuelled by foreign interventions. The guns in the throne come from North Korea, Poland, Portugal and the Old Soviet Union.

The throne of weapons represents hope for the future, shows the progress made, and stands as a reminder of the painful past.

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