Swords into Ploughshares

Every South African of my generation remembers the Casspirs: the massive troop carriers, mine-proof and threatening, that lumbered through the townships, through two States of Emergency and countless insurrections, bearing death and violence.

So what a shock and surprise, at the Turbine Art Fair yesterday, to see this huge Casspir beaten to a ploughshare, beaded and glittering in all the colours of the South African rainbow, standing on the patio where we went to find a glass of wine and something to eat, and a break from the artwork. Moved almost to tears by all that it brought back of apartheid’s suffering, by all it represented in its colourful repurposing, we spoke with one of the artists. Eighty women and men in Mpumalanga had laboured for a year to make and apply the beadwork. He and his group had bought the Casspir as scrap, and got it running – he had driven it here, in all its finery. What a sight that must have been, on our crazy roads, what a South African moment!

The other images were taken from the parking garage, opposite the exhibition – the streets and rooftops of Newtown, and a group of African dancers.

Somehow the images seemed to work with the Casspir.

Let me know what you think – comments and feedback are always welcome!

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