“From Madagascar to Morocco, Liberia to Mozambique, Mami Wata is the African water spirit who appears in the shape of a mermaid. It’s said that those who she takes as her lovers return with a new spirit and become more successful and good-looking,” says co-founder of Mami Wata Nick Dutton with a smile.
As a rising surfing star in South Africa, Avuyile Ndamase (22) has been selected as ambassador for the brand. He spoke to us about how he became a surfer and this new partnership.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Transkei, in Port St Johns, and I’m a surfer who’s passionate about the sport. Through surfing, I’ve been exposed to many opportunities: travelling, getting to know the ocean and also being able to represent different organisations.
How did you get into surfing?
I started learning to surf when I was about seven or eight years old through a friend, Pitso Maza, that lived in our township. He was a really good surfer who had been taught by his older brothers who were lifeguards.
A few years after I’d been surfing for fun, a guy called Michael Getke opened a local surf school which I enrolled in and since then I just haven’t stopped.
We understand that you turned down an opportunity with Ajax Cape Town to pursue your surfing ambitions.
This was back in 2008 when I was excelling in different sports at school including soccer. I was then approached by the people at the Ajax Academy to be part of the academy and I sent all my stuff through. I made it through, but I wouldn’t say that I turned down the opportunity – I was just a kid and I wasn’t really into soccer. I was so enthralled by surfing and knew that was my real passion.
What is your response to someone who says that surfing isn’t a sport for black people?
They’re not wrong, but at the same time they’re not right because surfing is a new sport in South Africa – it only really started in our country in the ’70s. It’s so young that even some of the pioneers of the sport in South Africa are still alive.
Even looking back at how I learnt surfing – I was taught by a black person – I do think it’s a sport that black people are interested in. It’s an individual and personal experience, and I don’t think it should be put down to race.
We might be the first generation of surfers from where we come from, but I think it has more to do with how young the sport is.
How did your partnership with Mami Wata come about?
I’d already known some of the guys behind the brand and I think I just fitted what they wanted. They’re growing into an international brand, and it’s very exciting to be associated with them.
What are your plans for the future?
There are many opportunities in the sport itself, and I’m just going to continue to grab as many of those as I can.
Image courtesy Facebook/@Avuyile Avo Ndamase