Photos by Alan van Gysen
After a year of bad news, we could all do with some good juju—and that’s exactly what Mikey and Zelti February are bringing back into the mix.
The husband and wife duo have now entered into another kind of partnership: co-founders of non-for-profit JUJU Surf Club, which aims to give a leg-up to the charities and organisations who are ushering in a new era of African surfers, and empowering local communities and individuals while they’re at it. As regular fixtures in surf therapy programs in their home of Cape Town, the Februarys have had the idea for JUJU marinating for a while now—and with Mikey’s intense WSL touring schedule coming to a screeching, COVID-enforced halt earlier this year, what better time to finally make their plans a reality? We caught up with Zelti to chat all things JUJU.
Hey Zelti! Can you explain in your own words what JUJU Surf Club is?
JUJU is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and highlighting the work of various surf programmes in Africa. Our aim is to identify and raise awareness of African surf programmes by fundraising, sharing resources and connecting these community leaders to international brands and other like-minded individuals.
You and Mikey have been really involved in different surf and charity organisations for a while now. What made you decide to launch something of your own?
We’ve wanted to start our own organisation or foundation for as long as I can remember. We feel really blessed with everything we’ve been able to do and see. Over the years we’ve learnt a lot from the non-profits that we’ve been involved with, and it came to a point where we figured out that we can use the platform and resources that we’ve built to support the charities and individuals that are driving positive change in Africa.
JUJU looks to support the programs that already exist across Africa – why did you decide to create this kind of platform as opposed to starting a more conventional charity organisation?
For many reasons, but we mainly decided to go this route because we felt like with our travelling and crazy work schedules, we wanted to make sure we do something that is sustainable, something we could keep up. We’ve worked for, and with, enough non-profits to know the number of hours that go into running a charity organisation… it’s full on! So, we felt that by doing it this way, we are playing on our strengths and we’re really able to do it in a sustainable way. Also, there are so many organisations out there already and we respect their work, time and effort so much, that we believe the best way we can help is through providing support to them.
Is there a particular surf site or community that you and Mikey feel really strongly about supporting?
We’ve always been very involved with Waves for Change, a surf and mental health therapy organisation based in Cape Town. They do incredible work in the community here and they also train a lot of community leaders from all over Africa and help them set up new sites, which is so great! We are fortunate to have a great relationship with W4C, so we’re very excited to continue learning from them and also partner with them on some future projects.
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What makes the African surf community so unique?
The African surf community is very refreshing because not only does Africa have some of the best waves, we also have incredible people and cultures. Mikey always says that every wave in Africa offers you a different perspective on surfing, not because of the actual wave, but because of the diverse people you meet and come across in the water. The coastline is also very untouched, and surfing is only just emerging in Africa as a sport, so the pure joy that young people and children seem to experience when they are in the water is something very special to witness. It’s authentic and unique with so much untapped talent. Our vision at JUJU is to share the stoke of surfing with these communities and give more people who haven’t been able to experience the ocean the opportunity to learn how to surf themselves.
Do you have any exciting stuff in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Yes! So many exciting things coming. Our first project was just released, it’s a JUJU x Slowtide collaboration that we’ve been working on for a few months. We have designed a ‘GOOD JUJU’ towel that is made from 100 per cent recycled materials and the proceeds of all sales will go directly to Surfpop and Waves for Change; two South African surf organisations that focus on mental health, nutrition and surf therapy.
What’s one of your main goals in the next couple of years for JUJU?
One of our main goals for is to help set up new surf sites through fundraising for the equipment and staff training needed to run a site. There are already a few individuals who are keen to start or grow their own surf sites, so we hope to be of help to them.
How can people get involved in what you guys are doing?
We would love people to visit our website and support any of our current fundraising projects or simply give the incredible organisations and surf sites that we feature on our JUJU Surf Club a follow! We are slowly but surely wanting to build a database of individuals and brands who are keen to get involved with these programmes, so if you are interested, please pop us an email.
What does the world need more of in the year 2020?
2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, so I think we need some more kindness and human connection in 2021!