Art and disarmament: turning arms into ploughshares in Mozambique

Following the Renamo/Frelimo conflict and the 1992 Rome Accord ending hostilities, the Christian Council of Mozambique undertook to remove arms from the civilian population by trading them for development tools. The weapons were given to artists associated with a collective in the capital, Maputo. The weapons were cut into pieces and converted to sculptures that subsequently focused international attention on the Tools for Arms project, or TAE (Transformação de Armas em Enxadas). While succeeding in drawing attention to the proliferation of arms among civilians, and collecting a considerable number of arms and munitions, the project encountered difficulties in relating the production of art to the overall initiative. This paper examines the aspect of the project that produced art from weapons, with insights and observations based on fieldwork conducted for CUSO and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).