The company cementing Africa's place in the world of surfing

By  Gogo
2019/09/04 15:00

Today's Vocabulary

1. distinct (adj.) 
clearly noticeable; that certainly exists

2. folklore (n.)  
the traditional stories and culture of a group of peo

3. coastline (n.)  
the particular shape of the coast, especially as seen from above, from the sea, or on a map

4. ensure (v.)  
to make something certain to happen

5. manufacture (v.)  
to produce goods in large numbers, usually in a factory using machines

6. mantra (n.)  
a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particular strong belief

7. critically (adv.)  
in a way that shows criticism of someone or something, or that shows that you have thought seriously about something, considering what is good and what is bad about it

8. firm (adj.)  
certain and not likely to change 

The company cementing Africa's place in the world of surfing


When a South African surf company wanted to put African culture on the global surfing map, it knew it needed a distinct African symbol.

It chose the name Mami Wata or “Mother Ocean,” a mermaid-like spirit from West African folklore with long, flowing hair who, followers believe, can charm snakes.

“Surfing’s history has been told through the lens of Australian brands and American brands, which is largely a blond-haired, blue-eyed story, whereas actually there’s a lot of people that story isn’t relevant for,” Mami Wata’s co-founder Nick Dutton said. The company is trying to change that by telling a different story.

Inspired by Africa
“Mami Wata is the sea spirit,” Dutton explained. “People who believe in her believe if you go into the ocean and she takes you to be her lover and you survive, you’ll come back and be better looking and more successful.

The continent, and South Africa in particular, is a rapidly growing hub for surfing with thousands of miles of coastline and several popular beaches. And Mami Wata wants to help ensure that the surf scene reflects everyone who’s a part of it.

“One of the biggest things that surfing is changing is when most people go to the beach now, they will see somebody like themselves surfing,” Dutton added.

The company develops and manufactures all its products locally, using sustainable materials.

“Our mantra is where we can we’ll use African materials, but critically for us, we manufacture everything here,” said Dutton.

As well as creating jobs directly, Mami Wata hopes to attract surfers from around the world to South Africa.

“We’ve got a firm belief in the role that surfing can play in the development of local economies in Africa,” said Dutton. “Africa is the final frontier in terms of undiscovered surf.”

“It’s getting the kids off the streets,” said Hugh Thompson, who shapes Mami Wata’s surfboards by hand. “It’s including them in a lifestyle of note… some of the best surfers in the world are South Africans and these South African kids on their way up are going to make their mark on the world [of] surfing,” he added.


1. Share your ideas to your tutor about: How much do you know about Africa?

2. If you have a chance, do you want to travel to Africa? Why or why not?

3. Have you ever tried surfing?

4. How do you prefer spending your leisure time?

5. How would you prefer to spend your free time? Indoors or outdoors and why?

“Surfing’s one of the few sports that you look ahead to see what’s behind.””

Laird Hamilton

“There’s an independence to surfing, it’s just you and the ocean. There aren’t a bunch of rules.”

Lee Clow