Voyages & Découvertes

Guns Bearing Fruits

Sunday 11 November 2012 by Stephan Mardaga

Here in Liberia, dry or rainy season is the same when it comes to heat; more especially when one parks his or her car in the sun. In fact, the interior part of the car feels like an oven.
The heat usually in the parking lot, makes me decide to find a practical solution. The simplest solution that comes to mind is to plant a tree. I notice a young mango plant behind a warehouse that in any way, will not have the chance to grow into a big tree.

To uproot the young plant and replant it in a safer place, I seek the assistance of a gardener with the promise of offering him a little amount. He has a look at the mango tree, but hesitates, since he doesn’t consider it to be anything worth making all that effort for. Anyway, he asks me to solicit the approval of the folks who work in the neighbouring office. That is not any big deal; I know Catherine, with whom I have developed some acquaintance and often crack some jokes any time I pop into her office. The gardener and I inform her about our plan.

To my great astonishment, she unbelievably fusses and protests against our plan, playing down the nature of the friendship between us. She does this without any apparent reason, instantly forgetting our worthy friendship. One may incline to think that it is the question of money prompting this, but, no! Searching in my mind, I don’t see any reasons that are prompting her to behave such. In the end, I leave the matters as they are; after all, to the best of my knowledge, I use no wrong language to provoke her.

However, the ensuing week, I see the gardener…… planning to launch our action anew with tools. Initially, he objects; despite all that I tell him that I have the authority from the highest level, nothing proves successful in this situation; he only wants permission from Catherine. Well, there is a need to return to meet her and I brace myself for any trouble from her. Nice this time, she only asks to see the tree in question, and she agrees to my request.
Indeed, the attitudes of Liberian women are mysterious!

Here, while digging around for the plant, we hear a metal-like sound. Imagine what we are seeing! A rusted piece of a weapon! And putting the mango plant and rusted weapon together, we look for a convenient place where the plant will required to give shade in ten 10 years time !

I show the gun to the house cleaner, she accepts to brush it with a little reservation, then, she briefly scratches out the rust from the implement. Obviously, the news about the find begins to go around in different level of forms as each person says anything about what type of weapon that has been found.

I tell Catherine the news, and she says …. that area used to be the headquarters of a rebels’ leader (commander); and such news comes as no surprise to her. She briefly narrated to me her experience during the civil war, the stuff I heard from her wasn’t anything to gladden the heart. I begin to understand her initial reticence.

All appears to be all right now, but what do we do with the object? The house cleaner tells me weapons are not good, I object to that by telling her that it is the same weapons that bring the United Nations into Liberia to expedite peace. After considering several ideas in this situation, I make a decision to throw the object into the river opposite my residence, after all.

Then Friday evening, a friend of mine and I go to Marlin Corner, a restaurant that is found at the other side of Saint Paul River. I carry the object with me and decide to throw it into the river that night when returning and reach Saint Paul Bridge.

After good meal and drinking enough of the local beer: Club Beer, I have a chat with a guy when in the urinal. The conversation, I learn from him that he is by career a blacksmith whose speciality is changing old metal weapons into sculptures! You can imagine my surprise through this active conversation. And it is he who makes all the balustrade (rails) around the balcony in which we are sitting. Then, I talk to him about the object and we agree to meet each other soon.

A question keeps on tormenting me; that, what’s this weapon coming to do in my life? What message does it carry?
It happens that I am reading: “The Female Thief of Books” from Markus Zusak. The story is told by Death in Germany (during the Nazi era), the Death goes around killing many people, but is surprised to find a young girl who escapes Him. Germany Nazi, the war, this awakes some recollections in me: my father was forced to work there (Germany) during that era in weapon industry. An idea occurred to me: why don’t I do something about this weapon in order to purge these misfortunes ? I therefore arrange a meeting with Manfred; that’s to make him part of my intellectual work and the conditions in which this weapon was found. While the idea surrounding the mango tree enormously interests him, that of my intellectual works interest him less; I entrust the weapon to his care so that he can change it into a sculpture.

The result is hence this creation: what’s more brilliant than recycling!

The web site of Manfred Zbrzezny :


Balustrade 1 Balustrade 2 Balustrade 3 Balustrade 4 Balustrade 5 Balustrade 6 Balustrade 7 Manfred Zbrzezny Pied de Table 1 Pied de Table 2 Travail 1 Travail 2
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