A Different Kind of Story from Democratic Republic of Congo

Congolese Freddy Tsimba creates symbolic sculptors from bullet castings

Congolese Freddy Tsimba creates symbolic sculptors from bullet castings

“For me it’s a matter of memory…War happens everywhere, but people have a tendency to forget, and then it starts again.” Freddy Tsimba told Reuters in the garden of one of his two workshops in the capital Kinshasa.

A very passionate and talented Congolese sculptor Freddy Tsimba has stirred attention in DRC capturing the trauma and healing of war through his art. His main theme is turning death into life.

Tsimba has experienced his own suffering of war having lost a brother during the fighting like thousands of his countrymen. He combs his home’s battlefields for relics of conflict before returning to his studio to create what he sees as works of against-the-odds optimism.

“Congo is like a pregnant female, made of spent cartridges, but who will give birth to a child… For me it’s life that restarts, rising from elements that take away life.”

Tsimba’s sculptures, in which the rusting cartridges are welded seemingly haphazardly together, eventually produce an intricate, web-like effect have caught the imagination of western art-lovers. His works have been displayed in Europe, the United States and Canada.

Violence is reaching new levels of savagery in Congo, where competition for control of mineral resources has drawn in several armed groups that have used rape as a strategy to intimidate, punish and control the population. But I choose this poignant and heart-rending story to illustrate the sheer resilience and healing capacities of Congolese despite what they have endured. Tsimba’s art is paving the way not only for the recovery process for Congolese but also to move the rest of the world by capturing the remembrance of revivification of DRC’s complex past and present. As pertinent it is to discuss the atrocious consequences of war, it is equally important to talk about and celebrate the stories of preserving survivors.