Apish is well known in the Cape Town surf scene. He leads the Waves for Change program in Masiphumelele, as both a coach and a facilitator and regularly models for Mami Wata. To make ends meet he's been running a very successful surf tour for Airbnb Experiences. A lucrative side hustle that helps him close the loop each month, that the Coronavirus lockdown has basically obliterated, leaving him high and dry.
Which is why we're supporting him through The Elbow Project. We checked in with Apish, currently locked down in Masi, to find out more about him, his approach to surf, and how he's dealing with the crisis.
Mami Wata: Where are you from and how did you get into surfing?
Apish Tshetsha: I’m from Masiphumelele township that’s in Fish Hoek, 36 kilometers away from Cape Town. I met Tim Conibear in Masi Township and he invited me for a surf lesson.
Tell us about your surfing, your style and what surfing means to you?
I’m a goofy foot, I’m more of a soul surfer. I surf for enjoyment, it’s therapeutic and surfing, for me, surfing means freedom of thought.
You're a senior coach with Waves for Change? What do you do there?
I train and mentor new coaches and also help with the surf club (our surf therapy graduates) and I’m also a Child Protection Officer.
What do you like most about working at Waves for Change?
It’s the inclusion regarding gender, race, and differences.
Can you describe the Masiphumelele surfing community? How are they surviving under Corona?
It’s still a growing community, with young passionate surfers. It’s very chaotic at the moment, some people obey the regulations but some are panicking, as they hustle for food.
How did you come up with the idea to start the Airbnb Experiences tours?
I was approached by Velma Corcoran who works for Airbnb and asked to put the experience together.
What do you do with people on the tours? What’s the itinerary?
We start with a surf lesson in Muizenberg and then drive to Masiphumelele Township for a tour and lunch (Xhosa traditional food) and then visit my place to see how people live in a township.
Who are your clients?
People from all over the world, but mostly Europe and the US.
How are you dealing with the lockdown?
It’s really frustrating but I’m staying at home, working from home through calls, email and we are running our surf therapy coaching sessions online now, which gives us a great chance to connect with our participants and their parents.
What changes would you like to see after the Coronavirus?
More budget to aid social development that focuses on mental health issues and job creation, especially for the youth.
Words: Andy Davis
Photographs: Ricardo Simal