Surfing makes you feel good, no doubt. The idea that these good vibes can spill over and positively impact other aspects of your life, inspires much of what we do at Mami Wata.
Surfing's positive impact on psychological, physical and social well-being, has long been recognised. What is not so well-known, is that two African organisations - Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children - have been instrumental in establishing the global Surf Therapy movement.
Mami Wata is driven by the idea of being a creative force for good on the African continent. Working closely with Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children has allowed us to express and amplify our brand purpose.
Beyond the smaller projects and regular, almost daily interactions, conversations, brainstorms, shared-waves and high fives, here are some notable top-level projects we’ve created in support of these incredible surf therapy organisations.
In 2019 we launched a Kickstarter in support of the Harper Sliders Surf Club in Harper, Liberia, a grassroots Surf Therapy program run by Waves for Change. The Harper Sliders had been operating on a piece of land on the beach, under an ancient almond tree, in front of the wave. But they needed a club house to anchor the program and grow the ideas of Surf Therapy in the community. We decided to create a Kickstarter, powered by a capsule of original and exclusive Mami Wata Harper Sliders gear, to raise funds to build the club house. In less than a month we raised over $33,000. The kids of Harper Liberia got their surf club house and we got almost 400 new fans and backers.
Soon after, the world got whacked sideways by the coronavirus pandemic and we realised that many African surf entrepreneurs and business owners operate in countries that either do not have the social and economic safety nets or government bailouts, or their businesses are too informal to qualify for help. So we launched The Elbow Project, a campaign to support grassroots African surf businesses impacted by the global coronavirus lockdown. We donated 100% of our profits from online sales to support surf entrepreneurs such as Surfers Not Street Children alumni Cebo Mafuna and his daily surf report; Cote d’Ivoire’s only surfboard manufacturer, the West Factory; Malindi based surf taxi operator, Ali Shee Omar; Ngor’s Café Touba seller Luck Pierre Ndiaye and Waves for Change’s head surf coach and local surf guide Apish Tshetsha.
The coronavirus also inspired our next move. With our business plan largely upended, we decided to double down on brand development and storytelling. As co-founder Selema Masekela says: “Simply put… The Story of surfing in Africa needed to be told.” In September we launched another Kickstarter to fund the creation of AFROSURF, the first book to comprehensively document and celebrate surfing and related street culture in Africa. The book itself is a visual mindbomb packed with over 200 photos, 50 essays, surfer profiles, thought pieces, poems, playlists, photos, illustrations, ephemera, recipes, and a mini comic, all wrapped in design that captures the diversity and character of Africa. More importantly, we decided to donate all our profits and royalties from the sale of the book to Waves For Change and Surfers Not Street Children. The idea was to create a long-lasting annuity for these incredible African surf therapy organisations.
The community responded in agreement. Our AFROSURF Kickstarter was a massive success, raising $112,000 through 1,200 backers.
During the production, we were approached by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, to create a hardcover second edition for global distribution, which has now sold over 10,000 copies, garnered some incredibly positive reviews (including a glowing appraisal from Oprah) and contributed substantial funding for the organisations.
Over the next 20 years, we believe that the ideas of surf therapy will have the biggest impact on global surf culture. Imagine the impact of millions of kids being introduced to surfing in an inclusive and positive framework, focused on riding waves as a point of connection, upliftment and enjoyment that supports their overall sense of well-being.
Look out for more exciting ideas, projects and collaborations with Mami Wata, Waves for Change and Surfers Not Street Children in the near future.