Mohamed Ouhemou, Casablanca- The man whose invention has killed more people than nuclear weapons, HIV and many other diseases all together is dead. Mikhail Kalashnikov, famous for his invention, the fully automatic assault rifle, the AK-47, known also as the Kalashnikov, died Monday at age 94.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was born on 10 November 1919 in western Siberia. In 1938, he was called up for service in the Soviet Red Army, where he took advantage of his designing skills and employed them to improve the effectiveness of weapons and equipment used by the Soviet tank regiments he served in. He started seriously considering designing an assault machine gun when one of his friends in the army asked him why he could not make a gun that matched the power and efficiency of the guns used by the Germans.
In 1947 Mikhail Kalashnikov completed the design of his legendary weapon whose simplicity made it both reliable and easy to use and maintain, but, most importantly, cheap to manufacture.
One can only admire his great invention. Unlike its American counterpart the M16, which has always been criticized for being hard to maintain, the Kalashnikov can fire in all conditions, rain or shine, and it even if it gets wet or severely damaged, it will still fire.
Hence when it was first distributed in 1963 to the American soldiers positioned in Vietnam, many soldiers refused to carry the weapon, saying that they would not put their lives into the hands of a children’s toy. Later, the M16 was modified and all the plastic parts were reinforced with steel, for instance the plastic bullet magazine was reinforced with steel.
Besides the technical aspects as to which the Kalashnikov certainly stands superior, the Kalashnikov also has its romantic appeal. It is the weapon that liberated many African nations form colonial rule and put and end to colonial arrogance and military superiority. It seems that the Kalashnikov, when put in the hands of a well determined freedom fighter can achieve great miracles. Therefore it is employed by the armies of dozens of countries. Mozambiquehas even incorporated it into its national flags. Likewise for other national liberation movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the Irish National Liberation Army.
American media has always tried to associate this weapon with terrorism and organized crime, and therefore it is rare to see any American action movies without having ugly and evil looking men carrying the Kalashnikov. Those ugly men are in most cases Arabs or Africans. While on the other side, you would see a group, of kind and good looking white fellows carrying the M-16, and getting rid of those evil men. The Kalashnikov, will always have its appeal and pertinence, though writing such as statement might seem callous, but the role of war above all is to kill as many as you can.
Tough Mikhail Kalashnikov was honored by the government, he made almost no money from his invention. He is also said to have expressed his unhappiness about his invention, “It would have been better if I had designed a more useful and productive machine which farmers and workers could use,”he once said.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
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