Catherine Bowen, Plascon Trends Editor
Walking With Dignity: The Rickshaw Renovation Project
(adapted from an article by Rowan Gatfield)
The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has undertaken a new project – “The Rickshaw Renovation Project”. This collaboration between staff, students and other stakeholders will renovate 25 carts as well as the outfits and head-dresses worn by the Rickshaw Pullers who operate along the ‘The Golden Mile’. In 1902, 2170 Rickshaws crowded the streets of Durban. In 2012, only 25 rickshaws are left in operation.
Organisers hope this project will inspire new awareness around Zulu pattern, restore dignity to the men who continue the tradition, stimulate interest amongst the hospitality & tourism industry and expose students to the fundamentals of Zulu pattern design and its use in contemporary design aesthetic.
The list of sponsors includes Plascon Paints, NPC Cimpor Cement, Royal Adhesive Industries, Component Wholesalers, Universal Bolt and Nut, Dunlop Industrial and Sportsman’s Warehouse – all of whom made various contributions in cash or kind.
Each rickshaw has been allocated to a student and will be designed differently based on the colour and bead-work convention of each polity or geographic area within Kwa-Zulu Natal. The first prototype has been based on the Nongoma region and design development was conducted with rickshaw-puller William Sibiya (a sixth generation rickshaw owner from the Mandlakazi isigodi at Nongoma). Lawrence Khoza, who is the next scheduled recipient, had this to say:
“I see William Sibiya now walks with dignity”.
Again, organisers believe that apart from the restorative and healing nature of projects such as the Durban Rickshaw Renovation Project, there is huge potential to support the visual language of tourism, commerce, design and art education in Kwa-Zulu Natal with initiatives like these. Plascon is proud to have been a part of this story!