Feature image source: Hendrick Chebanga Crafts Works Facebook page

“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This post is by Neo Matsei. 

“South Africa is not lacking talent. Our weakness lies in uncoordinated efforts that can translate this creativity into products with aesthetic value”, said the Former National Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan in his speech at the BASA Awards Dinner, in 2007.

We can all agree that our communities are full of undiscovered talent and overwhelming creativity. There are fascinating stories that remain untold because good talent often goes to waste in the more remote areas, where opportunities are lacking. These are people with a wealth of creative ideas that could be making a much larger contribution to building our economy, but much of it goes undiscovered because it is hidden away in underdeveloped and rural communities.

In December 2016 I made a trip to my hometown, Hammanskraal. On my arrival there, I was fascinated by an artist sitting along the sidewalks of the main road of the Dilopye community, where he displayed a huge South African Police Service (SAPS) helicopter that he had made himself from recycled material found in scrapyards.

People made stops to chat to him and asked about the helicopter, while others left small change to show appreciation for his work.

With a great sense of pride that this artist is from my hood, I went onto social media to make mention of this amazing artist and the work he produced.

When I made a trip back again in December 2018 the artist had built two more vehicles – a SAPS Land Rover and a Ford Mustang, which he calls “the Cyclone Mandela” – that he showcased. As if this was not enough to impress the community of Dilopye or anyone that past, he had installed an engine and car seats in the Cyclone Mandela. It could actually be driven!

I had to talk to this guy!

Hendrick Chebanga, a 31-year-old artist and engineer who resides in Hammanskraal builds cars using recycled material that he collects from the local scrapyard. He has always had a love and passion for building small, handcrafted toy cars, which he would sell to children to play with. But a few years ago he challenged himself to start building even bigger cars

It took Hendrick a good seven months to build the Ford Mustang (left) and six months to build the Land Rover (right)

Hendrick’s designs are inspired by the police force, he says that he is fascinated by the law enforcement and the respectable image they hold.

Displaying these cars in his community has given him self gratification as has received much love and appreciation from the locals. The helicopter he built in 2016 was hired for a disply in Soshanguve over the festive season, which shows just how much admiration people have for what he does.

Hendrick did not go to school to learn his craft; he was self taught. “For me, this is a God-given talent,” he says.

His dream is pretty clear: to create a functional automobile that can be driven by all.

To see more of Hendrick’s work, follow him on Facebook.