Armando Mabunda was born in Mozambique, in 1975. Mabunda
is an acclaimed sculptor who creates objects of beauty from
instruments of death.
From his workshop in Maputo, he fashions his artworks --
masks, thrones and figures -- from decommissioned weapons
and military equipment.
land mines, rocket launchers, soldiers' boots and helmets,
even sections of tank: all are warped and melded to create
vivid sculptures sought by galleries and collectors around
The work, says Mabunda, is "trying to represent each
[person] who died with this same material." At the
same time, the creation of each piece has a very practical
consequence. "If we destroy the weapons, the same weapon's
not going to kill any more," he said.
after 20 years of peace, Mozambique, a country of about
24 million people in south east Africa, still labors under
the legacy of conflict.
A ten-year insurrection against the Portuguese colonial
powers prior to independence in 1975 was swiftly followed
by a 16-year-long civil war, leaving the country dotted
with hidden troves of weapons and unexploded ordnance.
Since 1995, a group of local churches, the Christian Council
of Mozambique, has been working to recover weapons from
the community, exchanging surrendered guns for tools or
building materials through a program called "Transforming
Guns into Hoes."
by the pacifist-spirited verse from the Book of Isaiah --
"They will beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks" -- the program has recovered
more than 800,000 weapons to be destroyed, some of them
through the hands of artists like Mabunda.
A full-time artist since 1997, Goncalo Mabunda 's earlier
works were characterized by insecurity, as he was uncertain
how long his country's fragile peace would last. Mabunda
's work has since moved in new directions, yet is always
informed by the experiences that have shaped his homeland,
and an interest in its collective memory.