The Casspir Project at the 2017 Turbine Art Fair

The Casspir Project from the view of a blogger, published on

Yesterday I went to the Turbine Art Fair in downtown Joburg and saw the Casspir Project: a massive armoured vehicle covered in more than a ton of colorful glass beads.

Kennedy Mwashusha, one of the artists who worked on the Casspir Project, with the exhibit at Turbine Hall in downtown Joburg.

I had seen pictures of the Casspir Project in advance but nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. It’s an awe-inspiring work.

Every inch of the Casspir, including the lights and all the little pipes and various doo-dads, is covered in beads. I shot this photo while the vehicle was running (yep, it still runs) and the bead-coated hazard lights were blinking.

View from the side. Note the beaded AK-47s sticking out of the windows.

Tail lights. The creator, Ralph Ziman, is also known as Afrika47.

Casspir wheel.

The Casspir, invented by the South African government in 1980, is a well known symbol of oppression. Although initially created to detonate mines in the South African Border War, Casspirs were also deployed into townships to quell anti-apartheid protests.

The Casspir Project began nearly a year ago and included a team of more than 60 bead artists. While I was there yesterday I chatted to Kennedy Mwashusha, one of the artists who worked on the project. As we talked, Kennedy and I suddenly realized we’d met previously; Kennedy sells his bead art at the corner of Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue in Rosebank, which I wrote about nearly four years ago in my post about beaded rainbow giraffes. Several of the Bolton Road bead artists were recruited to work on the Casspir Project.

Kennedy (third from left, in white hat) on Bolton Road in 2013.

Kennedy yesterday in front of the Casspir. He still sells his work on Bolton Road and is now studying toward a university degree in psychology from UNISA.

Inside the Casspir Project

My favorite thing about the Casspir Project is that you can actually climb inside the Casspir.

My friend Gail inside the Casspir.

A cute little boy in the driver’s seat.

Boaz, another of the bead artists, sits on the back steps of the Casspir.

The Turbine Art fair is open until 6:00 p.m. today (Saturday 15 July) and from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday 16 July). This is the only Johannesburg showing of the Casspir Project so check it out if you have time. Also the rest of the Turbine Art Fair is fantastic and really worth a visit. Ticket information is here.

Thanks to Gail Wilson for taking a picture of me inside the Casspir.


Subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to know about events, exhibitions, and opportunities from Turbine Art Fair!

* indicates required

*we respect your privacy