In the 1970s, the Ghanaian government hoped to kickstart a home-grown car industry with the pickup truck prototype called the Buafo (literal translation: carrying help). Today's cars look like spaceships and are built by robots in futuristic factories, eventually leaving behind a trail of discarded Western car parts which frequently end up in a place called Suame Magazine in Ghana. Processes which take place behind the scenes in the West are made visible here. In the workshops of Suame Magazine, auto scrap from around the world is salvaged, processed, and marketed by some 200,000 highly specialised technicians in 12,000 informal workshops.
A lengthy collaborative process led to the design and production of Turtle 1, a car built with the expertise of Suame Magazine's technicians and with features relevant for African roads and communities. The excitement was palpable and media coverage was positive; even the King of Ghana came to see the first car to ever be exported from this region to the West.
After a successful tour of European car fairs and exhibitions in European art venues, the Turtle 1 is back at home in Ghana, and plans to develop Turtle 2 are underway. While the project lives on in a material sense, conceptually Turtle 1 and its implications are less about inventing the car of the future and more a reflection on contemporary society.
In collaboration with
Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation (SMIDO), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Kumasi, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ghana, Joost van Onna, Teun Vonk, Bram Esser, Tijs van den Boomen, Cynthia Hathaway, uitgeverij Fosfor, Eva van Ginhoven, Iztok Klančar, Immanuel Sirron Kakpur, Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam, department Designlab – Cynthia Hathaway, Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam, department Fine Art – Rolf Engelen.
Funded by: Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, Centrum Beeldende Kunsten Rotterdam, Stichting Doen, Royal Burger group, V2, Xelvin
Location: Suame Magazine, Ghana