Over the last several years, surfing has finally started to become more welcoming to folks who don’t fit the traditional idea of a surfer. From organized paddle outs by industry leading brands to stories that highlight Black and brown surfers by major media outlets, the tides are certainly changing. And while this is all a cause for celebration, it also makes other areas in desperate need of evolution all the more apparent—like surf gear. Most major legacy surf brands have deep roots in Southern California or Australia, and rarely pay homage to surf’s global history. But not all.
South Africa’s Mami Wata is changing the conversation with boards, suits, and apparel not only produced in Africa but that also embody and celebrate the continent’s rich surf history. Founded in 2015 by surfers Peet Pienaar, Nick Dutton, and Andy Davis, and later joined by television producer and lifelong surfer Selema Masekela, who has actively used his platform to speak out on the need to change the narrative around surf, Mami Wata is officially available stateside this week for the first time, bringing a level of vibrancy and style no other western surf brand can.
From the begining the missson of the South African-based brand has been to show the world the power of African surf. That includes everything from the brand’s name (West African pidgin English that literally means Mama Water) to the materials used, like spun cotton from Malawi, and even the motifs seen across the boards and T-shirts that speak directly to African culture.
Priced between $45 and $100, the brand's pieces are a beautiful and bold nod to the continent’s surf heritage. Behind the scenes Mami Wata’s commitments are important too—manufacturing all products in Africa to fuel job creation and innovation, supporting the African surf therapy organization Waves for Change, and encouraging folks to ride the gorgeous waves along Africa’s coast. If Mami Wata sounds familiar, it might be because of the massive success of the brand’s coffee table book AFROSURF, which became an instant classic when it was released earlier this year.
We’re so excited for this brand’s launch not only because the pieces look super awesome but also because it represents a massive move forward for the industry at large. There’s now a brand with inclusivity baked into its core that’s committed to doing things differently, for good.