Colours caught on fire and conceptually fierce – Ralph Ziman’s photographic series GHOSTS deals with the international arms trade and Africa, a trade that for the most part only goes in one direction: into Africa; and one that not only fuels, but also sustains conflict across the continent. Based in the City of Angels, Ziman is a revered writer-artist-film director and an extraordinarily humble human. He has directed over 400 videos for artists – with names being diverse as Ozzy Osbourne, Toni Braxton, Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson – while his work in film as writer/producer/director includes over six features (including 2008′s Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema). Big names and the bright lights of Hollywood aside, the heart of this hands-on visionary is never far from his home country, South Africa… Especially when it came to GHOSTS, the ambitious beaded arms project that provided six months of full-time work for half a dozen craftsmen who got a well-deserved break from making wire animals for tourists. Beware: long after their exhibition life is over, these Ghosts will continue to haunt you. It’s up to you to keep their dialogue alive.
The AK-47 is incredibly iconic weapon that is loved, revered and fetishized in Africa. You can find them in the hands of criminal gangs in Johannesburg, government thugs in Zimbabwe, bloodthirsty M23 rebels in Congo, Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa and maniacs like Joseph Kony in Uganda. In a strange twist of fate a Ukrainian ship hijacked by Somali pirates was found to be carrying ten thousand AK-47′s bound for Sudan.
From South African president Jacob Zuma singing ‘Lethu Mshiniwam’ – which translates to ‘Get me my machine gun’ – to adoring supporters at political rallies, to Charles Taylor toting an AK-47 in war torn Monrovia, even Mozambique’s flag features a hammer and sickle style emblem with an AK-47. Yes, the AK-47 is part of the country’s coat of arms and is stamped on its flags and passports. The UN estimates that there are more than five hundred million small arms in circulation around the world. More than seventy million of those are estimated to be AK-47′s. Ninety percent of all casualties in wars around the world are caused by small arms. Eighty percent of those killed are civilians.
Boas Manzvenga, Panganai Phiri, Lenon Tinarwo, Telmore Masangudza, Kennedy Mwashusha