Documentary explores 'beating swords into ploughshares' - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 21, 2005

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Documentary explores 'beating swords into ploughshares'

-21/02/05

A television documentary to be shown tonight (Monday) will take a look at the idea of 'beating swords into ploughshares' and peep behind the scenes of the Tree of Life sculpture made in partnership with charity Christian Aid out of decommissioned weapons as part of the Africa 2005 season.

The documentary, directed by Dylan Howitt of Rooftop Productions features the four sculptors, the creator of the project, and UK art critics.

It follows the Tree from Southern Africa to its exhibition at the British Museum in London.

A half-tonne sculpture made out of chopped up guns and other decommissioned weapons was unveiled at the Museum in January.

The ëTree of Lifeí was commissioned by The British Museum and overseas development charity Christian Aid to coincide with the start of the Africa 2005 season of cultural events in London.

Mozambican artists spent three months creating the three-metre-high sculpture, made entirely out of weapons such as AK-47s, pistols and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They see it as a way of using their art to promote peace.

The exhibit explores the biblical idea of "beating swords into ploughshares" advanced by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah.

The weapons are collected by an innovative project, Transforming Arms into Tools, which exchanges guns for equipment such as sewing machines, bicycles, and building materials. One village received a tractor for collecting 500 weapons.

There are still millions of arms hidden throughout Mozambique ñ a legacy of the 16-year-long civil war that ended in 1992. In the last nine years the project, which employs some former child soldiers, has collected and dismantled more than 600,000 weapons.

Bishop Dom Dinis Sengulane is the founder Transforming Arms into Tools, which is supported by Christian Aid. He said; "I tell people that sleeping with a gun in your bedroom is like sleeping with a snake ñ one day it will turn round and bite you."

Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, said: "Itís amazing to see how Mozambican artists build a culture of peace through creating fascinating sculptures from dismantled killing machines. This project encourages people to exchange tools of death with tools for living."

The Transforming Arms into Tools project has been so successful in collecting guns from former soldiers that other African governments are considering implementing similar schemes.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than three quarters of the population living on less than a day. Such extreme poverty can fuel crime. As long as the guns are still usable there is a danger that they could end up in the wrong hands and cause even more death and suffering.

The weapons exchanges have meant that many Mozambicans have been able to make a living thanks to their new tools. Filipe Tauzene, a former child soldier, said; "The life I have now is much better as before I didnít have the bicycle to move and go to town and sell things in my shop. I didnít have iron sheets to cover my house. I have been given very useful things, which means I can get on with my life."

ëTree of Gunsí - Monday 21 February at 9.30pm on BBC Four

For web clips, a picture gallery, and stories about the project visit: the Christian Aid website

Find books now:

Documentary explores 'beating swords into ploughshares'

-21/02/05

A television documentary to be shown tonight (Monday) will take a look at the idea of 'beating swords into ploughshares' and peep behind the scenes of the Tree of Life sculpture made in partnership with charity Christian Aid out of decommissioned weapons as part of the Africa 2005 season.

The documentary, directed by Dylan Howitt of Rooftop Productions features the four sculptors, the creator of the project, and UK art critics.

It follows the Tree from Southern Africa to its exhibition at the British Museum in London.

A half-tonne sculpture made out of chopped up guns and other decommissioned weapons was unveiled at the Museum in January.

The ëTree of Lifeí was commissioned by The British Museum and overseas development charity Christian Aid to coincide with the start of the Africa 2005 season of cultural events in London.

Mozambican artists spent three months creating the three-metre-high sculpture, made entirely out of weapons such as AK-47s, pistols and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They see it as a way of using their art to promote peace.

The exhibit explores the biblical idea of "beating swords into ploughshares" advanced by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah.

The weapons are collected by an innovative project, Transforming Arms into Tools, which exchanges guns for equipment such as sewing machines, bicycles, and building materials. One village received a tractor for collecting 500 weapons.

There are still millions of arms hidden throughout Mozambique ñ a legacy of the 16-year-long civil war that ended in 1992. In the last nine years the project, which employs some former child soldiers, has collected and dismantled more than 600,000 weapons.

Bishop Dom Dinis Sengulane is the founder Transforming Arms into Tools, which is supported by Christian Aid. He said; "I tell people that sleeping with a gun in your bedroom is like sleeping with a snake ñ one day it will turn round and bite you."

Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, said: "Itís amazing to see how Mozambican artists build a culture of peace through creating fascinating sculptures from dismantled killing machines. This project encourages people to exchange tools of death with tools for living."

The Transforming Arms into Tools project has been so successful in collecting guns from former soldiers that other African governments are considering implementing similar schemes.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than three quarters of the population living on less than a day. Such extreme poverty can fuel crime. As long as the guns are still usable there is a danger that they could end up in the wrong hands and cause even more death and suffering.

The weapons exchanges have meant that many Mozambicans have been able to make a living thanks to their new tools. Filipe Tauzene, a former child soldier, said; "The life I have now is much better as before I didnít have the bicycle to move and go to town and sell things in my shop. I didnít have iron sheets to cover my house. I have been given very useful things, which means I can get on with my life."

ëTree of Gunsí - Monday 21 February at 9.30pm on BBC Four

For web clips, a picture gallery, and stories about the project visit: the Christian Aid website

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