Designers of Chukuru, the SA Olympic team's official Mascot Vanessa De Castro and Prudence Tshikalange pose the Chukuru few days after designing it.
Picture:Supplied
Designers of Chukuru, the SA Olympic team's official Mascot Vanessa De Castro and Prudence Tshikalange pose the Chukuru few days after designing it. Picture:Supplied

Meet Chukuru, SA’s newest ambassador

By Time of article published Apr 17, 2012

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Sameer Naik

Vanessa de Castro and Prudence Tshikalange will be glued to their televisions come the start of the London Olympics.

Aside from watching Team SA go for glory, the Joburgers cannot wait to see SA’s mascot, Chukuru the rhino, make his debut at the games in July.

De Castro and Tshikalange are the designers of Team SA’s new mascot which was unveiled this week.

Chukuru, a rhino dressed in a green shirt with the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) badge, green shorts and takkies, and adorned with the colours of the five Olympic rings around his nose, beat more than 100 entries.

Chukuru will represent Team SA for all multicoded sports events from the London Olympics and Paralympics later this year.

De Castro and Tshikalange, who work at Mortimer Harvey Advertising agency in Joburg, were overjoyed.

“There are no words to describe how we feel,” said De Castro. “We’re ecstatic and still reeling from the fact that this is real. To be honest, it really hasn’t sunk in yet that our mascot, Chukuru, has won.”

The mascot tender was part of Sascoc’s drive to create a national identity around the team, also at future international events.

Six finalists were chosen and, of 14 464 votes received, Chukuru was the overwhelming winner.

“When we heard that our entry had won, our first reaction was ‘pinch me’,” said De Castro.

“We could have designed a cute and cuddly mascot, but we wanted a rhino that would make a difference.”

“We designed a mascot that would still be adorable, but that stood for another cause, fighting rhino poaching in our country,” Tshikalange added.

The rings around the rhino’s horn feature the colours of not only the Olympic rings, but the SA flag.

“To give the rings a uniquely South African feel, we made the rings out of Ndebele rings. And the rings, or the circle in African culture, represent a sense of community, which is what our country is all about.”

Asked how they came up with the name Chukuru, Tshikalange said that their objective was to find a “truly” African name.

“We researched names for rhino in various African languages. The one that spoke to us the most was ‘Tshukudu’, which means rhino in SeTswana and SeSotho.

“Inspired by the word we created our mascot name ‘Chukuru’, which we believe is catchy and memorable.”

Tshikalange and De Castro said that winning the mascot competition had definitely ranked as one of their greatest achievements.

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