African Surfers Get A Brand To Call Their Own, Mami Wata
Click in for the story and how to support their cause.
In 1822, freed American slaves were sailed back across the Atlantic and resettled along Africa’s west coast. They formed what is present-day Liberia. The first surfers are rumored to have appeared in the country in the ‘70s, a good 150 years later. From 1989 through 1997 the country was embroiled in a bloody civil war.
In 2009 filmmakers Britton Caillouette and Nicholai Lidow released their documentary, “Sliding Liberia.” Featuring Dan Malloy, Chris Del Moro and Crystal Thornburg, the country quickly flashed onto the surf world’s collective radar. The village of Robertsport, home to a beautiful sand point, became the defacto hub for a burgeoning surf culture.
Ten years later and the surf scene in Liberia continues to blossom, serving as a positive role model for other emerging surf nations in Africa, including Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Sao Tome.
Enter a brand called Mami Wata, which is West African pidgin English for “Mama Water.”
“We support Africa and we want our surf clothing and accessories to shine a positive light on Africa’s potential to create world-class stuff,” reads the company description on their website. “Our surf apparel is proudly made in Africa with power. We respect and share the goodness of nature by using sustainable African materials.”
Designed and made in Africa, Mami Wata makes killer surf threads for men and women, embracing the local artistic styles and sensibilities. In a word, they’re rad.
They’ve also partnered up with Waves for Change and the Harper Sliders surf club in Harper, Liberia. Needing a clubhouse for their surf program to help children in communities affected by violence, poverty and conflict, they’re helping raise money for the cause.
“The clubhouse will create a safe shared space around which the kids can bond, learn new skills and store their equipment,” reads their site. “To raise the fund they need we’ve created a limited Edition Harper Sliders collection of clothing, accessories and equipment, only available on our Kickstarter page.”
In a time when surf brands have sold their soul to corporate interests and making their bottom line, Mami Wata is putting the roots back in the surf biz. It’s epic to see a brand like this sprout up, and as more new surf cultures around the world, hopefully, it can serve as a model for local empowerment and not being beholden to wanky American or Aussie surf brands, the majority of which, frankly, just don’t get it.
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