Skate Ubuntu started their skate workshops in April 2019 with CM Vellem School in Joza, Makhanda, South Africa. Initially there were so many children who wanted to skate but there were not enough resources to go around. Mpumi, a teacher at CM Wellem, facilitates children’s progress in and out of school. Children who keep the homework up to date, can skate, with their parents’ permission. Jabulani, Ayabonga, Awethu, Siya, Yonke, Sinesipho, Linda and Oluhle (4 boys, 4 girls) are the first children members of The Skate Ubuntu family. Skate Ubuntu emphasises gender equality and wants to show girls that they can do anything boys can do and better!
To think that the kids picked up a skateboard for the first time in April is outstanding. To see their progress on and off the skateboard has been really motivating to watch. Skate boarding can help children’s mobility in a creative way. Everything takes an artistic or creative mind to do – you have to be able to come up with ideas. This is why we push on a piece of wood, and ride on a piece of wood. It’s crazy what something so simple can do to your spirit.
Makhanda has one of the highest divisions of wealth and Joza is one of the poorest townships in South Africa. And without any public parks, fields or spaces children often find themselves playing out on the streets, or playing on a weathered soccer pitch. Skateboarding introduces a way of moving that isn’t limited to a field or street. Schools, parking lots and driveways, all places that once seemed dull, can light up when you add a skateboard to it.
Kings Beach Skate Park in Port Elizabeth is a living testimony that people from different backgrounds can unite in such a positive way. Makhanda desperately needs a public space that is open to all the people of Makhanda. Skate Ubuntu aims to give children a new sense of identity and creative mobility through skateboarding. However, without further resources and donations, the dream of a public skate park will fall away.
Words and video – Liam Harwood