If you visit the British Museum – it is worth a quick look at Cristovao Canhavato’s Throne of Weapons sculpture. The Throne is the result of the a project which offered former civil war combatants agricultural and other tools in exchange for their assault rifles and sub-machine guns following the end of the Civil War in Mozambique in 1992. Unsurprisingly, the AK47 forms the main content of the Throne, but there is a Russian AKM in there and some other unidentifiable bits.
It is a thought-provoking sight and it is impossible not to reflect on the individual fighters who used these weapons during the civil war. It is strange to see the familiar shapes of the weapons’ component parts chopped up and welded together to make the Throne of Weapons.
The sculpture was brought to the UK by Christian Aid – the symbol of recycling guns obviously representing the theme of ‘swords into ploughshares’. Yet, the British Museum also points out that chairs are often representative of power in African societies, so given the name of the sculpture there is clearly another deeper meaning.
For this visitor the Throne does have a strangely sinister feel to it.
It is such a contrast to the daily scene of order and neat lines of carefully stored and maintained weapons seen every day in police and military armouries.
Its rough construction helps to make it a powerful piece which evokes the anarchy and brutality during the chaos of the civil war.