Ghana is interested in skateboarding and its gradual acceptance in society is evident, even if skateboarders have been in existence for nearly up to fifteen years. Big media have documented the rise, Vogue, BBC, Monster Children name it. But there was a time when it was thoughtless to ride a wood without folks assuming the circus came to town, daily, people embrace the sport and see it as a way of life. Before, as a matter of fact, they didn’t want kids grinding and nose bleeding, cruising down the streets and living in a different way. That representation was lacking, to not be loved and supported by your own country killed the vibes in skateboarding in Ghana. A lot of youth quitted save for a few.
There is a festival called Chale Wote where all the cool kids in Accra and the diaspora love to attend in the summer, a lot of alternative events that attracts over 30,000 people are exhibited. Three years ago, under the sun, cars cruising past, children and women in throngs passing by, a group of skateboarders cruised in public with music blasting as they spun their boards to the clicks of cameras and cheers of onlookers.
That happened to be Surf Ghana’s first exhibition. That same day in another wing of the area the collective also arranged for a group of international artists to paint 25 skate decks on display in Brazil House, one of the festival’s premieres enclosed venues, in addition to tournaments and skate lessons. Three years ago, a woman worked behind closed doors to put together a collective united by a passion for skate and surf. Sando Alibo, an indigene of Martinique. She was the sports strategist and communication rep for Orange in extreme sports. Sandy discovered Ghana through Busua, searching for a place to surf. “I fell in love and decided to go back to give and invest more. After developing some friendships, I followed my heart and this is how everything started. I decided to leave France to found the collective,” she explained. A passion for photography attachedSandy’s interests to extreme sports, the stunts and tricks caught on camera, landscapes and architecture. “If you love the street then you love skateboarding because it is the prince of the street. I love the unconventionality and disorganization of the sport. I am a beginner of both surfing and skating but what I like about it is that nobody cares about your level, more your passion. How you feel in the water, how you feel on the board, and what you can share with that. Another thing about this sport is it inspires travelling in a means to discover new spots.” Surf Ghana is fused with talents: Coaching, photography, carpentry, styling, painting and other forms of artistic expressions. Ghana is one of the top countries to invest in today, the economy is dynamic and Ghana espouses independence and freedom, the creative scene is also booming. With a cultivated dream to move abroad to work on a social project, Ghana felt like the right place. “For me it is better because I feel like in society right now we can never do a business and be all about money, or live happily without thinking about others and how they can be happy, even if the project is not to save the world but if you can put a smile, create and give employment and increase life expectancy.” It is evident that Sandy uses her professional business acumen to generate ideas that sustain the collective It is rare to see Africans together for a project that is great and of good benefit; Surf Ghana is proof. There are also other organizations that support skateboarding in Africa: Skate Ethiopia, League SB, Skateistan, and African skateboarding diary. Partnerships have helped the collective secure some of their goals which include easy-access to extreme sports for the youths in Ghana. The idea of the association was not to fight for inclusion with other sports but to become involved with festivals Ghanaians already love: Asaabako, Chale Wote and Accra Food Festival and some of them own. For example, in 2018, they created NOISE, a skateboarding video contest only on afrobeat, to memorialize the relationship between filmmakers and skateboarders. M.A.S.S.S (Music, Art, Skateboarding and Secret Spot) came next: The idea was to commemorate skateboarding in a secret eco-friendly location.
Through all the exploits one can easily see a dedication to social activism and fight against pollution. An example is a project of beach cleanings in partnership with the University of Takoradi to teach the students how to surf and to clean up after. Since then, there has been a rise in beach cleanings by brands in collaboration with the government. More than anything, Surf Ghana’s Skate Tour changed the way the country perceived skateboarding: 12 days around parts of Ghana to promote tourism and teach children to skate culture was a breakthrough project. The collective, and also with the help of other organizations, has imported surfboards, shoes, skateboards and other equipment needed but they aim to be local and eco-friendly. “The idea is to save the planet, to save money, to create jobs and to avoid the corruption of importation in Africa.” Everyone is enthusiastic to know what the future holds and based on the aforementioned achievements, definitely, only greatness awaits!
Originally published in Random Photo Journal issue, get the print here.