Transforming arms into art in Mozambique

At the world-renowned artist studio Núcleo de Arte in Maputo, Mozambican artist Fiel dos Santos recalls a childhood robbed by military struggle.

“I grew up in civil war,” says Santos, who was five years old when his country became embroiled in a conflict that would last 16 years. “In my area the rebels were coming two times a week, every month, every day—but I’m here.”

In this video, Santos destroys weapons leftover from Mozambique’s civil war, and welds them into mixed-media sculptures. His artwork is part of a larger project called Transformaçaõ de Armas em Enxadas (Transforming Arms into Tools), which has amassed a collection of over 700,000 illegal weapons since 1995.

“I continue this project because it’s my contribution, my social contribution,” says Santos. “Transforming guns is transforming minds.”

Later this year, Fiel will be releasing a stop-motion animated short using metal sculptures created from decommissioned arms. The 17-minute film, Little Fiel, will tell the story of Fiel’s youth, growing up with two brothers fighting on opposing sides of Mozambique’s civil war.

In this video by Journalists for Human Rights reporters Sarah Berman and Sarah Feldbloom, Santos destroys weapons leftover from Mozambique’s civil war, and welds them into mixed-media sculptures.

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About Sarah Feldbloom

A self-professed “culture junkie by nature,” Sarah Feldbloom says she was lucky to be born and raised in Toronto, a city inhabited by citizens from every corner of the globe. This setting only encouraged her to explore further, an urge which led her to Blantyre, Malawi, where she’s working for Star Radio. Before heading to Malawi, Feldbloom worked as an editorial assistant for Global News Toronto and hosted and produced women’s radio shows for CHRY and CHMR. In addition, she collaborated on gallery, magazine and radio projects with community arts and media organizations including the Association for Media Literacy, Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and For the Love of Learning. Beyond her hunger to travel, Feldbloom wanted to work in Malawi to see how the medium she loved producing most was “made and absorbed in the continent where it is king.”

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