African Voices

‘Congestion, no skate parks, few pavements’: Skating in an African megacity

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Lagos, a congested city of around 18 million people, seems an unlikely spot for skateboarding

A skate crew hopes they can grow the sport and create Olympic stars

Lagos, Nigeria CNN  — 

Despite the boom of skateboarding on the continent, Lagos might seem like an unlikely place for the sport to take off.

The megacity which boasts of an estimated population of around 18 million, has no skate parks, few pavements and heavily congested roads.

But WAFFLESNCREAM, a group of avid young skaters are taking to the streets to change this perception.

“Skate boarding can be anywhere,” Jomi Marcus-Bello, one of the co-founders of WAFFLESNCREAM told CNN. “There aren’t many pavements in Lagos, but we skate on empty streets, parks and abandoned sites.”

“It’s not just a sport, it’s a community, it’s very freeing and it’s a brotherhood.”

WAFFLESNCREAM started out as a lifestyle brand with a vibrant online community attracting people from Lagos and Lusaka to Leeds.

Eight years later the team have opened their first skate store in Lagos and hope to increase interest in skate culture through film, photography and illustration.

“We had our first exhibition tagged “Friends & Family in March,” Marcus-Bello continued. “The exhibition is aimed at revealing the unconventionality in our artists who comprise of skaters, photographers and illustrators.”

Despite the challenges of skating in Lagos, Marcus-Bello says: “People are intrigued when they see the crew on their boards because it’s a sport that just keeps people glued.”

This sentiment is shared by many others on the continent’s growing scene. Last year $35,000 was raised through crowdfunding to open a skate park in Addis Ababa.

Kenya held it’s first skating competition in Nairobi in 2015 and there are thriving skate scenes in Madagascar and Uganda, WAFFLESNCREAM hope Lagos will be next.

“It’s exciting and [the scene] could grow beyond our control if the right parties are involved, most especially, the government.

“Skating is going to be part of the 2020 Olympics so it’s something for us to aim for and it would be great to have their support. I feel we are the last piece of the puzzle provided we get the support needed,” said Marcus-Bello.

After cementing their position in Lagos by building a skate park, the collective hope to take the message of skating nationwide.

“We are currently trying to build a skate park in the empty space under Falomo bridge and we are positive it will come through.”

“It’s very freeing, skateboarding really is a sport that can bring a whole nation together.”

Nigerian-American photographer and filmmaker documented WAFFLESNCREAM on the streets of Lagos, check out the amazing photos in the gallery above.