Photos courtesy of Mami Wata
African surf culture is getting the love it deserves in soon to be released book, AfroSurf.
The mammoth 300-page book is the love child of Cape Town-based brand Mami Wata, and the 1200-plus backers (and counting) who have thrown their allegiance towards the project on AfroSurf’s Kickstarter fundraiser. And if the response to the book’s Kickstarter is anything to go by, the world-first book to comprehensively document and celebrate surfing culture in Africa is well overdue—they’ve raised close to triple the desired goal of AUD $50,000.
Featuring photography, stories, profiles, interviews and art from across the continent, AfroSurf will look at the burgeoning surf scene in over 18 countries; a worthwhile investment for anyone who has the final frontier of global surf exploration in their post-COVID travel plans. While the pledges continue to roll in for this sure to be epic book, I caught up with Mami Wata co-founder Nick Dutton to find out more about the role that African surfing has to play in the global surf scene, and why you should pledge your support to AfroSurf before the Kickstarter shuts up shop in approximately 24 hours.
Firstly, congratulations on hitting your target on Kickstarter! The support has been amazing, but there’s still really great reasons for people to keep chipping in money before the campaign ends. Can you tell us a little more about your plans for the profits from future editions of the book?
We’ve used the Kickstarter to bring AfroSurf to life, to help us fund the content, design and for the printing of the first edition. Thereafter, all the profits from future editions of AfroSurf will go to two incredible African surf therapy projects: Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children. Hopefully, the book is really successful for a long time to come and acts as a type of endowment for these surf therapy organisations.
Africa has such a rad and unique surf scene. Why do you think that is has taken until now for the very first book on African surfing to be made?
Africa’s surf scene is reaching towards a critical mass in places as diverse as Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Liberia, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Plus, for the last decade most of the new, world-class surfing waves that have come to light—in the global surf media at least—are located in Africa. And I think people are generally a lot more aware of diversity and that the dominant narrative tells just a small part of the story and often excludes the best bits.
How long has AfroSurf been in the making?
We’ve had the idea for a few years, but the Covid-19 lockdown really only crystallised that now was the time to do it.
What’s one of the lesser-known surf scenes or spots you’re excited to showcase in this book?
Seems unfair to only pick one. We’re very excited about the growth of surfing in Senegal, around the Ngor Peninsula in Dakar. The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa continues to serve up amazing waves and red hot surfers. The West Factory in Cote d’Ivoire are changing the game, the crew around Mr Brights Surf Shop in Kokrobite, Ghana and the Tarkwa Bay legends in Lagos Nigeria are all sitting on bustling, original and innovative surf scenes.
This huge 300-page book will profile a whole bunch of African surfers too. Can you tell us about a surfer featured in the pages who you think really captures the AfroSurf/Mami Wata spirit?
They all do, from Joseph Diatta in Casamance, Senegal on the cover of the book, to Joshe Faulkner from Pellsrus outside J-Bay, to the more famous Mikey Feb, Jordy and Twiggy, plus Waves for Change surf coach Chemica Blouw and big wave surfer Cass Collier. They all contribute to the idea of an authentic and original African surfing culture, because they’re busy living it.
Modern surfing is dominated by a white, Western perspective—what role do you think AfroSurfcan play in changing up this narrative?
On a basic level, AfroSurf shows people that surfing is a much broader, more complex and interesting thing than what is depicted by the media and the brands; surfing as an existential pursuit. Africans have been intimately involved with the ocean and riding waves for fun since way back. These days, many people are being introduced to surfing through surf therapy programs like Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children, through that focus on mental health, wellbeing and natural connection, which is very different to the Western approach to a sport or a fashion subculture. It is deeper and more meaningful and delivers a different result in terms of experience and culture.
Donate to AfroSurf here before it’s too late!