Swords into Plowshares: A Mozambican Gift for Pope

Weapons Transformed into Objects of Peace

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ROME, SEPT. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A delegation of Mozambican artists is planning to give the Pope a chair and a hoe made from unusual sources: weapons collected at the end of the decade-long civil war.

The gifts, will be given Wednesday, were crafted from weapons collected after the signing of peace agreements in Rome.

In 1996, the ecumenical Christian Council of Mozambique launched the TAE initiative, a swords-into-plowshares campaign aimed at removing the greatest possible number of weapons in circulation. Machine guns and rifles were exchanged for hoes and work tools.

In 1998, artists of Maputo’s «Art Nucleus» in Mozambique asked for some of the collected war materiel, in order to transform it into objects of art expressing peace.

Thus began a collaboration that has resulted in an exhibition of 100 artists that is going on tour around the world.

«Symbols and instruments of death transformed into symbols of peace and instruments of life — the prophet Isaiah’s words never seemed more appropriate to us as at this time,» observed Father Venanzio Milani, vicar general of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus.

«We hope that everything that has happened in Mozambique will serve as an example to other African countries,» he said.

The exhibition, which will be open to the public at the Villa Piccolomini in Rome from Oct. 1-6. It includes chairs, dolls and musical instruments that were once rifles, Kalashnikov chambers and bullets.

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