[Image: "Old African carving, called a Dogon (or nearby people's) "sign" for a blacksmith or tool-and-weapon maker": ArtandJunk.com]
This could be, perhaps, the coolest Christmas thing ever. I mean, ever. Just browse the Good Gifts catalog and check out your options. How would you like to be able to give the gift of a Kalashnikov, or a rocket launcher, or even better yet, a small armored vehicle, to someone out there who really needs it? I know, who really needs such things? Well, I'm sure several scenarios come to mind, but, before your fantasies carry you away check this out. If you've got the dough, for £1,000.00 you can actually buy an old tank -- yes, an actual tank ("or a heavy duty 16 wheeler") and have that gift wrapped, too. So, you ready? Purchase from where, you ask? And, give to whom, exactly? Imagine a run down little shanty somewhere along the seaboard of West Africa, where the surplus tools of war get their chance at enlightenment; a place where they are ultimately converted and reconstituted from one context to another, from one great pile into another, before being reborn and deployed again through out the war-torn region. Now, throw in the advantage of capital's favorite holiday season, and what do you get? Well, by popular demand, a hot new feature to kick off our Shopping Guide to Military Urbanism.
Following the civil war in Sierra Leone, APT, a UK charity, partnered with Angela Lavali, founder of MAPCO, to help rural communities stripped of their resources re-build their livelihoods again through programs designed to take advantage of whatever available resources remained. "The same civil war that depleted the country of tools and work is now providing ample raw material for recovery: weapons." Since the turn of the millennium, the UN has overseen the national implementation of multiple recycling programs which have brought a new meaning to disarmament to the region, and today "Peace is paying dividends in Sierra Leone."
[Image: Exploring Africa]
"Enterprising blacksmiths and metal workers convert them into farm implements so that a Kalashnikov becomes hoes and axe heads and a rocket launcher transforms into pickaxes, sickles and even school bells." Furthermore, by giving the gift of a tank you can, the Good Gifts catalog says, "provide a year's work for 5 blacksmiths, turning it into 3,000 items vital to equip a farming village of 100 families." Perhaps nothing can inspire the re-purposing of even our best-designed killing machines like the desperate needs of a devastated landscape immediately following a war. And so all those bits of metal and spring, and crude weapon engineering suddenly gets reversed, broken down piece by piece again from whence they all began, and heaped into one mass primordial pre-weaponry stockpile once again. Dismantled miscellaneous war bits just waiting to be reassembled into something egregiously anti-killing; weapons of mass destruction turned into a transnational Secret Santa campaign for grassroots farm tools renewal. The gift of giving doesn't get any better than that.
And if those don't encourage you enough, check out some of the other items in the catalog: Plant a quarter acre swamp, or buy an acre of "dense, steamy greenery heavily populated by creepy crawlies" rainforest, give a nomadic family a camel, and, like I siad, if you've got dough, hell, give the GIFT OF SIGHT for Christmas, I mean real sight (what could be more in the spirit?), or how about a bike for a destitute midwive? At the very least, feed a rat, for Christ's sake!
And if anyone else out there, wants to help us launch a fund drive to buy a tank for the blacksmiths in Sierra Leone, let us know. We're into it! The only drawback I can see, is that you don't get to take it for a little test drive first before giving the oh-so Christmasy gift of a tank for the holidays.