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Durban-based female surfer making waves and dispelling biases

South Africa

As if women did not face enough challenges taking on male dominated sports, one young South African woman is proving she is capable of not only excelling in a sport considered the preserve of men, but one considered a whites only sport.

Samukelisiwe Cele, a native of South Africa’s coastal city, Durban has since her childhood had a love for water sports.

“I just loved water sports, I used to be a really good swimmer when I was in grade five or six to seven, I was a really good swimmer so I would stay in the water for like three hours and just not care, just go black and just… you know have fun,” said Samukellisiwe.

And growing up in a city considered a Mecca for both local and visiting surfers, appears to have boosted Samukelisiwe’s love for water sports.

She was introduced to surfing by an internationally renowned surfer, Jason Ribbink who happens to be a friend of her father’s and whose company Bilt Surfboards, now sponsors her.

“I wish to surf an event overseas not in here, not in South Africa. An international event overseas that’d be great. New experience, new place, new people and everything,” said Samukelisiwe.

It would not be her first time competing in a major event though. In 2015, she became the first black South African woman to compete in a professional surfing event.

Since then she has become a role model for budding black surfers.

Amanda Majozi, a young female black surfer said: “It inspired me and it inspired a lot of kids, especially females, we’ve got other girls now surfing. And we also have programs that have a lot of black people surfing, so she’s one of many black people who inspire others.”

Uzile Khaile also thinks Samukelisiwe’s feat removes “that whole biasing between surfing and white people, that surfing is for white people and not for black people. I think she breaks the boundaries when it comes to that type of situation.”

In a country where beaches were segregated during the apartheid era, Samukelisiwe has managed to whet the appetite of aspiring black surfers.

But these black surfers according to observers, are still not properly represented in various media and promotional events for the sport.

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