The fragile status of the African rhino—whose population has been decimated since the ‘70s—is only made more poignant by the handsome creature’s physical strength and magnificence. It’s this moving juxtaposition that became the inspiration for a crystallized sculpture created to help the fight against rhino poaching.
When Gadget Candy and The Bling Factory—Durban-based specialists in stylish customization—spotted the opportunity to use their expertise and raise money to help save the much-loved rhino, they teamed up with the Wildlands Conservation Trust and Swarovski to help realize their vision. Local artist Lunga Thabethe was then invited to bring her exceptional talent to the project, and Ubucwebe be-Afrika (Jewel of Africa) was born.
Over 200 man-hours went into painstakingly hand-applying nearly 60,000 graduated crystals, ranging from smaller to larger sizes, sending light rippling across its surface like a shimmering skin and bringing the 35cm long x 20cm high rhino sculpture to life.
The team’s dedication to the cause proved paid off spectacularly at the Wildlands Earth Night, a glittering charity auction held in Johannesburg’s Palazzo Montecasino Hotel in September 2013, where Ubucwebe be-Afrika became the star lot, raising an astonishing R50,000 (€5,000)! The winning bid came from a delighted Kerry Koen of Innovative Shared Services, who was thrilled to own a modern masterpiece that also helped such an important cause.
That isn’t the end of this happy story, however. As well as raising awareness of the rhino’s plight among the 250 influential gala guests, the astonishing success of Ubucwebe be-Afrika has been the inspiration for further crystal customizations in aid of significant charitable causes. Watch this space for more proud news…