Cebo Mafuna is a mainstay of the central Durban surf scene. Town. Cebo has been directly affected by Covid-19 and is one of the grassroots African surf entrepreneurs we will be supporting through The Elbow Project. If he’s not bobbing between the piers on his board, he’ll be behind the counter at the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club, slinging coffees and breakfasts to the hungry post-surf crowd. We caught up with Cebo, to learn more about where he’s from, how he got to Durban, started his Surf Report business and what life is like living under the Corona lockdown.
Mami Wata: Where are you from and how did you get into surfing?
Cebo Mafuna: I’m from Port St John’s Mtumbane township, which is 10 minutes walk from Second Beach. That's where l learnt to surf when I was 14 years old.
What brought you to Durban?
I came to Durban around 2014, to live with my cousin at South Beach. While I was staying at South Beach I used to go hang out at the Surfers Not Street Children (SNSC) Surf House, mainly after a surf session. That’s when I meet Tom Hewitt (who runs SNSC), and he introduced me to the project. I soon moved into the Surf House and became part of the program, Living at the Surf House is good, I learnt so many things about life and being independent and responsible. I also made some very good friends.
How did you end up at the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club?
I started working at Durban Surf in 2015. I got the job through Surfers Not Street Children. At that time Mel Winter and Iain Evans were running the coffee shop and they are good friends of Tom and we knew each other from surfing. That's how I got the job. At the coffee shop, I started as a waiter and did that for two years. Later I went to do a short course at the Coffee Merchant. Now I’ve got my qualification as a barista and I work the coffee machine.
Tell us about your surfing, your style and what surfing means to you? How do you balance work and surfing, since in Durban the waves are often best in the mornings?
I'm a goofy footer. I like barrels and overhead clean waves. When I was at the Surf House I used to surf every morning, every day. But now I'm working it's quite challenging because I work 5 days a week from 6am to 2pm then surf on my off days. I can surf all day, if I get the chance. When the surf is good, and I have to work, I just try to put all my focus on my work so I don’t get distracted. It's really hard but missing out on good waves just makes me froth to go for a surf after work.
How did you come up with the idea to launch your WhatsApp surf report?
I started the report when I noticed that many of the guys who come to the coffee shop would always ask me the same question: “how was the surf this morning?” So I thought let me show them. So I created a WhatsApp group and I keep updating them whenever the waves looked good. If I can charge them R50 bucks a month, I can make extra money, especially if the service is good.
How do your customers pay for the report?
Most guys just meet me at the beach. Some even pay four months in advance. To make it easier, my plan is to set up a subscription through a local mobile payment platform like Zapper and Snapscan, then they just scan wherever they are, without always having to meet up at the beach.
How are you dealing with the Coronavirus lockdown?
I just make sure I comply with the rules and regulations by staying at home. On a daily basis I wake up, clean my room, do house duties, do the garden and then I just chill during the day, exercise and in the afternoon I prepare dinner. I don't have any source of income for now due to lockdown. I do borrow money from friends if I need food or electricity, for now, since I'm not working.
Words: Andy Davis
Photographs: Di Parkes