Wade in the water - A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture
Launch event at Mami Wata Store in Venice, Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES – Wade in the Water is a multimedia project that dives into the one-thousand-year-old history of Black surfing culture, from the coast of West Africa to Bruce’s Beach in Southern California the project includes a full-length documentary, fine art portrait prints, and exclusive NFTs. Over the course of the next year, the project will expand awareness about Black aquatic history and increase participation in a growing Black surf community focused on enhancing physical health and mental wellness.
“This project aims to empower the Black community with knowledge of the ancestral lineage connecting us to surfing and the ocean,” said David Mesfin, Wade in the Water’s Creative Director. “Our documentary is the first full-length feature film about Black surfers by a Black director. It includes the voices of historians, Black surf pioneers and current Black surf advocates - all of which are showcased in the artwork.”
Mesfin was born in Ethiopia and migrated to St. Augustine, Florida as a child, where he quickly fell in love with surfing. He said he was inspired to create this project following a series of events including the murder of George Floyd in 2020. “I felt like I needed to do something. Mother Ocean and surfing have always been my emotional, physical, and spiritual escape, and a source for wellness” he said. “Taking on this project, I quickly found out I wasn’t alone, and it began to gain momentum.” Mesfin said it was important to him that the project gave members of the Black surfing community an opportunity to talk about their journey, but also escape the pain they felt following Floyd’s death as well.
“There is a power that comes from knowing that Africa is an original source of surfing,” said Professor Kevin Dawson, Ph.D., author of the awarding winning book, “Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora.” “When we can see the ocean as our home and not a place where we are guests, a whole new world of possibilities and healing opens up for us. This project allows us to do that and will begin a new aquatic journey for many Black people around the world.”
Mesfin wants to acknowledge Beyin Abraha, one of the surfers featured in the project and someone whom he met through the community, for being instrumental in the success of this project and adding value in many different ways as the Executive Producer.
“Wade in the Water” is a narrative journey told through a long-form documentary which will be making the film festival rounds in 2023. On June 2nd, the project will kick off with a multimedia show and fine art portrait prints for sale at Mami Wata Store on Abbot Kinney Blvd. Los Angeles, and a non-fungible token (NFT) sale of limited-edition portraits.