"Hey buddy let's go skating" - "Nah, not today". I can't remember how often I heard these words. Two super simple sentences, which mean not that much to us in our daily life. For others however, a "Nah, not today" is unthinkable.
I talked to Sandy Alibo, one of the founders of the project "Surf Ghana" about her experiences with the surf and skate scene in Ghana. Even though we did the interview only via voice messaging I could just feel her excitement about the project and what it means to her to support surfing and skating in Ghana. She told me about the motivation of the kids and how they fall in love with just being on a board. A "Nah, not today" would be just something you would never hear - simply because, while for us, skateboarding and surfing has become an everyday activity we take for granted, the kids in Ghana are still celebrating the original vision of skating and surfing - freedom, fun and independence.
Surf Ghana is a collective of surfers and skateboarders based in Ghana. I discovered Ghana about two years ago and I just fell in love with the country. I was here with one of my best friends and we decided to travel Ghana to learn English, to discover another side of West Africa and also to surf. When we were both traveling through the country, I noticed that nobody was surfing except tourists. There was a surf school, but it was dedicated to tourists. So, yeah I was really upset about it and decided to get more involved and create a program for the Ghanaians through "Surf Ghana". At first, it was just an Instagram account, but after that, we decided to show the Ghanaians that they can surf too and not only the tourists.
After that, I made a partnership with Ahanta Waves and we gave surf lessons (two times per months) to maybe 20 kids and it was really cool. The Ghanaians were like "Oh, this is so cool, really, we can surf in Ghana, no way". Most of the surf camps at the moment are just for tourist, so I tried to give the Ghanaians a new vision that they can surf, too.
Yes, after we started with the surf lessons I met a skateboarder. Jacob, he lives in Ghana and we decided to work together and also give some skate lessons to kids. It was the same style of the program we created for the surf lessons. After that, a lot of people followed me on Instagram, sending positive vibes and then we decided to organize a small skateboard contest in March 2017. At this time, I did not know any skateboards. So I did some research and found "Skatenation Ghana". Then I invited the whole crew there and we made the first competition with 300 people. It was just a great experience.
The tour is currently over. It actually finished in the middle of January. It was about promoting skateboarding or extreme sport's culture in general to Ghanaians. You can see all the stops on our website https://skatetourgh.com. We started in Peki and the last stop was in Accra. Till now, we could not upload all the videos and photos due to the lack of internet. So we still have some stuff that we're gonna publish soon.
Like I said, it's about promoting surfing and skating to the Ghanaians, but it is also about just having fun. That's actually the main goal, just to have fun. When you are a kid in Ghana, it is not easy. First of all, I think a lot of people do not go to school. When you have the chance to go to school, you really focus on it, and when you have some free time, you help your parents and you go to work. Kids in Ghana are entrepreneurs. You are maybe like 6 and already an entrepreneur. So yeah, we really want that kids can be kids and just have fun and enjoy their life. Even if it's just one hour per week. So, most of the time, we just share love and we are really happy to offer them the opportunity to have fun and to feel freedom. For them, skateboarding is freedom. Both, skateboarding and surfing just brings fun to their lives, that's all we are promising with our project.
Yeah, we are trying to create a collective. We are a lot of artists, designers, fashion designers, athletes etc. and it is really important for us that we are more than just one person because we think together we can do something really cool. We want to decide together and it is also really important for us to give the Ghanaians a voice. To make decisions together with them. Right now, I think we are about 50 people and everybody has a different task. Some create skate ramps, some just skate, some are photographers etc.
The reason why I'm coming to Ghana again and again is because I've never seen kids so motivated about skating and surfing. When you talk about the skateboard scene in West Africa (Ghana), they are really into it. There are a lot of skateboarders, they have a good level and I'm really impressed by them. If we're able to build a skate park in the future, they will become extremely good. They are so motivated, they skate everyday. It is kinda funny that people skate in a country where there are no roads to skate. Most of them skate street, but they don't have a street to skate. So any kind of street they see, they just use it and skate it. I'm always so impressed by their motivation. Until today there is unfortunately no real skate shop, but this is the plan for this year. We want to open a skate park and skate shop. We really want to build something nice. The surf scene is a bit different. Surfing is not new, but nobody talks about it. It is just more in the background for some reason. I think there are like 10 really good surfer in Ghana, but there should definitely be more.
The Ghanaians are so motivated they even created their own press to produce skateboards. It is called the Africa Board Company. It is just one board press in a room, but it is so cool.
Skating and surfing in Africa is for sure rising. It is gonna be huge soon. Because a lot of people in Europe want to build skate parks here. So the next step will be probably skate parks in Nigeria, Ghana and maybe other countries. A good example is GoskateNigeria. They have the same goal about skating as we have. They have a brand and are selling their stuff all over the world. So they are a good example of what we want to do in Ghana. Another aspect that will help to grow the surf and skate scene is the fact that there are a lot of kids in West Africa and Ghana. When they see something new and they have the opportunity to test it, they will try it and they will try it again and again. So when they get the equipment, they will probably as good in one month as people in Europe will become in one year. They are just so into it. You can't even imagine the motivation. It is so hard to describe that. You have to see it by yourself!