You Can Call Him Sal
From his early X Games notoriety to his beautiful and expansive new book AFRO SURF, Selema Masekela has always ridden the waves of his own passions. And those waves have taken him places. From being the authentic voice of grungy skate and snowboarders in the ’90s to providing sideline commentary on FIFA, the NBA, the World Surf League and the Olympics, as well as surfing all over the world himself and executive producing and hosting a series on sports for Viceland. He’s somehow found time to record music (Sal is the son of South African jazz great Hugh Masekela) with his band Alekesam, and found the surfwear brand Mami Wata in Capetown (the brand recently launched stateside, too).
Much more than a Black-owned Billabong, Mami Wata was founded on “a belief in the power of African surf.” And to that end, the book AFRO SURF cogently and convincingly makes the case for the real history of African surf (way before Bruce Brown and co. “discovered” it in The Endless Summer) being all but ignored and forgotten and then proceeds to celebrate the power of African surf for 320 gloriously vibrant, nearly pulsating pages.
Mami Wata is an extension of all the good work Sal has been putting out there for years, founding or working with organizations providing school lunches, mentoring at-risk youth through action sports, building safe and legal skateparks, surf therapy, and preserving and protecting the ocean.
For a long time, Africa has done itself a disservice by trying to be more like the West instead of cultivating its own identity … an attitude that is a relic of colonialism. But the tide is turning.”Klyne Maharaj, AFRO SURF
If you are into surfing or snowboarding or music or were a child of the x-treme ’90s you’ll find a lot of joy in this episode. Hell, even if you’re not into surfing or any of those other things, you should still listen in, as Selema’s career path is truly inspiring. If you take away one thing, take away the power of “the man on the porch” … which will make sense when Selema tells the story. We should all be that man, or woman, on the porch.
A few things you may learn
> Cultural appropriation vs. respect for culture
> The Human Curiosity Movement
> Waves for Change & Surfers Not Street Children
> How to do squats for a nicer world (or at least nicer legs)
> A history of surfing in Africa you might have known nothing about
- On Instagram @selema
- The book AFRO SURF
- Listen to Alekesam on Bandcamp
- Mami Wata (a pidgin for mother water)