Kepa Acero Is Giving Africans The Keys To Unlock Their Coastline's Potential
A heartwarming doco, "It's Not All About Waves" is inside:
For my money, Kepa Acero is surfing’s Buddha.
Soft-spoken, wise and thoughtful, nights of sleeping under the stars alone on some of the world’s most remote beaches have led him to a deeper understanding and connection to the wave-riding experience than most. He passes these lessons and parables on through his YouTube videos, and his latest drop, “It’s Not Only About Waves,” maybe be his most poignant yet.
“I’ve been traveling through different countries in Africa for a long time, especially the west coast. Being a white man traveling solo, sometimes it can be difficult in these countries, but you have the opportunity to score some of the best waves on earth by yourself,” Kepa explained when Stab caught up with him awhile back.
“I’ve been places that have never seen a surfboard before, and sometimes I teach the kids to surf. They love it. They get hooked. But I could never leave those kids any of my surfboards because I was still in the middle of my travels,” he continued. “My dear friend Dane Gudauskas once told me about this project that he and his brothers had done in Jamaica. I thought it was brilliant. I feel like the African communities have given me a lot and that it was a way I could give back to them—the idea of bringing back some of the knowledge they have given me and the stoke to these communities.”
Through their Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation, Dane and his brothers, Patrick and Tanner, have organized surfboard drives for communities in Jamaica, South Africa and Trinidad/Tobago. Inspired, while home in the Basque Country, Kepa organized a surfboard drive of his own for a village in Africa that had welcomed him with open arms.
“I was in this place in the African jungle in 2013. I drove all the way from Europe to the coast through many countries. At one point there was this beautiful place with amazing people. They had very little material things, but they offered me so much love. It is full of African positive vibes there; full of colors and stoke,” Kepa said. “I always have been very inspired by the way these people enjoy life and live in the present—this instant moment—compared to the western countries. That is something that amazes me. It was completely flat while I was there, but I could see the potential of some of the pointbreaks, so I really wanted to come back and leave to these people some gratitude for what they have showed me, and of course, try to discover some potentially epic waves.”
“After I left, I always thought those kids may have shaped a wooden surfboard or something similar to keep surfing. If I think back, it was my brother Dane who was the first one to talk to me about the concept. Dane and I made a few trips to Africa together and he told me about what he was doing in Jamaica with his brothers. I think those two experiences were crucial. I thought it made so much sense to share what gives us all so much stoke. I really love the Gudauskas brothers and what they are doing with the Positive Vibe Warriors concept. They have the ability to leave a piece of hope in everybody's hearts.”
Announcing his surfboard drive via social media, the outreach was immediate and overwhelming. Every surfer’s got an old board or two in their rack that they haven’t ridden for years but aren’t sure what to do with it, and the idea of giving it a second life under the feet of a kid in Africa, it caught fire.
After gathering all of the boards and gear and figuring out how to ship it all to remote Africa, Kepa and his girlfriend Eva Diez hit the road with their cameras. Their new documentary details this project and journey.
“They have the waves and great spots to learn, they just needed that key to unlock it and now we have been able to give that to them,” Kepa said. “At the end, we want to be thankful of all that they showed us too, all that we learn from them. We called the project ‘It’s Not Only About Waves’ because, of course, we go there with the hope of scoring some world-class waves, but also to have a cultural exchange and have a fascinating human experience.”