Transforming Conflict into Canvas: The Powerful Message of DRC’s Bullet Cartridge Artworks

Art has long been a medium for expressing human emotions, stories, and social commentary. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a visual artist named Freddy Tsimba has taken art to a whole new level, using a rather unconventional material—used bullet cartridges. His sculptures serve as a poignant protest against the persistent state of conflict that has plagued his country for nearly three decades.

Freddy Tsimba’s latest creation, a life-size sculpture of a woman scarred by conflict, stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. The sculpture, meticulously crafted from discarded bullet cartridges collected from various war zones across the DRC, speaks volumes about the toll that continuous conflict has taken on the nation and its people.

In a recent interview, Tsimba expressed his motivation behind this unique art form. Speaking in Lingala, he stated, “The Congo is a country where armed conflict has been going on for very long. It’s more than 20 years. Millions of dollars have been spent in fighting those wars. That money could have been used to build universities and hospitals, but unfortunately, it went into buying bullets.”

The artist’s frustration over the decades-long conflict between government forces and rebel groups in the eastern DRC drives his creations. Tsimba has been recognized with several international awards for his innovative approach to art, using his sculptures to shed light on the senselessness of war and the dire consequences it inflicts on society.

“I would like to see peace in the world, especially in my country, the DRC, because without peace there can’t be any progress. I would rather live in poverty in a peaceful country than be wealthy in a conflict-prone nation,” Tsimba passionately expressed, emphasizing the importance of peace for societal development.

According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 120 armed groups engaged in conflicts over land, ethnic tensions, and control of minerals in the eastern DRC. Despite a brief period of relative calm, recent clashes between government forces and the M23 rebels highlight the persistent and urgent need for resolution.

Freddy Tsimba’s art goes beyond aesthetics; it serves as a powerful call to end the unnecessary bloodshed and bring about lasting peace. His bullet cartridge artworks, including the one featured in Kinshasa, advocate for an end to the conflict in the eastern DRC, where millions of lives have been lost since 1996.

As Tsimba continues to transform discarded remnants of war into thought-provoking masterpieces, he hopes that the world will take notice and his art will contribute to the collective cry for peace in a nation that has endured far too much suffering. Through creativity and resilience, Freddy Tsimba is proving that even the remnants of destruction can become symbols of hope and catalysts for positive change.


1. Freddy Tsimba, a DRC artist, uses bullet cartridges to protest the long-standing conflict in the country.

2. His sculptures, like a woman crafted from bullet casings, symbolize the impact of continuous conflict.

3. Tsimba criticizes the misuse of funds spent on wars instead of education and healthcare.

4. Internationally recognized, his art serves as a commentary on the senselessness of war.

5. Advocating for peace, Tsimba calls for an end to the conflict in eastern DRC through his impactful artworks.