Something beautiful has emerged from the bleak township of Vrygrond near Muizenberg in southern Cape Town. Standing proudly along the M5 running past the township is a spectacular artwork called the Ship of Ubuntu – a three-metre high wood and steel sculpture created with the help of over 40 youths from the area.
The project was started by the Sozo Foundation, a non-profit organisation that offers training programmes to youth in the impoverished community of Vrygrond. EDvance – an organisation from San Francisco, USA – also partnered in the project, led by renowned street artist Libre Gutierrez. Students from the Sozo Foundation and EDvance also lent a hand.
The sculpture of a ship, which took four weeks to complete, was built from recycled materials. At the top of the ship are colourful houses and on the front is a face, with one eye looking at the past and one towards the future.
“We wanted to depict the history of the community as a farm with fishermen living on it. The houses on top speak about the unity of the community and people from different backgrounds living and working together,” said Elana Cuyler, co-founder of the Sozo Foundation.
In a community ridden with poverty, unemployment, drug abuse and gangsterism, the artwork has been a shining beacon of hope for everyone involved.
The Sozo Foundation’s graphic design students were also involved in the project. Graphic design trainer Keenan Mowers said that being part of the project helped him and his students to develop as people.
“Most of them learnt a lot of leadership qualities and also how to communicate with people from very different backgrounds. Normally, we are all so focused inside the community that we cannot focus outside of it. So this really broadened our minds,”
As a result of the project, the Sozo Foundation has been approached by a number of people asking whether the students can do artworks for them.
“Keenan has already had a number of requests, and the students recently completed a wall mural at Steenberg High School. This project presents so much hope. It shows these creative, hard-working young people that they have the ability to create something beautiful that not just people in the community appreciate, but also those outside it,” Cuyler said.