Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa has honoured Madiba with a pimped Ford Ranger.
The one-of-a-kind piece of mobile art will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“At Ford, we are very proud of our South African heritage,” said Managing Director of FMCSA Neale Hill.
“The company has an exceptionally proud legacy in the country spanning more than 96 years – one built on continued investment and innovation to produce segment-defining products, empower communities through creating job opportunities, and striving to improve the world around us for a brighter future.
“No one did more in pursuit of the South African dream than Madiba himself, it is thus a privilege to be able to hand over this one-of-a-kind Ranger to the worthy Nelson Mandela Foundation.”
The unique creation is adorned with a South African flag on the roof and portrait of Nelson Mandela painted on the bonnet, while the side panels and rear tailgate of the vehicle pay further tribute to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and celebrate 18 July as Mandela Day.
The unique designs were done completely by hand by four talented artists that work at the Silverton Assembly Plant’s paint shop in Pretoria where the Ford Ranger is produced.
It took the team 48 hours – mainly outside of their regular shift work at the plant – to produce the finished artwork.
“For all of us at the paint shop this was a very exciting and humbling opportunity, that allowed our artists to showcase their skills”, explained Manufacturing Engineering Manager Dorah Mmekwa, who led the project.
“At first the team was quite nervous. Mandela’s image is so iconic, the team was eager to do him and the Foundation justice. Once they got started it was clear there was no need to be anxious. The vehicle looks superb and we are all extremely proud to have been a part of its creation.”
Ford’s tradition of naming its art cars gives the nearly 3 500 staff an opportunity to participate in the fun. Staff was asked to submit their preferred title for the car, and it was Mandla that was ultimately selected.
“It pays homage to the powerful slogan ‘Amandla… Awethu’ that was often chanted by Tata Nelson Mandela when he had his fist clenched up in the air. That vision of him is still in so many South African’s memories and is a prominent feature of the artwork on the vehicle.
Besides, Mandla is a very popular Zulu/Xhosa name that means power or strength. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fitting description for our powerful Ranger,” said Hill.
Mandla is not destined to be an exhibition piece though, the Nelson Mandela Foundation will be putting the Ranger through its paces in their work with various projects particularly in the areas of education and community upliftment.
“We are honoured to accept this generous donation from the Ford team,” said Yase Godlo of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“The last few weeks we have been engaging regularly with the team on the project. Ford’s passion and commitment to making the vehicle a unique and fitting tribute to Mr. Nelson Mandela has been admirable.
“Our mission is to contribute to the making of a just society by mobilising the legacy of Nelson Mandela, providing public access to information on his life and times, and convening dialogue on critical social issues. We look forward to being better able to complete the tasks associated with this mission enabled by the Ford Ranger,” Godlo said.