Mami Wata ( www.mamiwata.surf) is a African surf brand which was launched in 2016 and based Cape Town, South Africa.“MamiWata” is West African pidgin literally meaning ‘Mama Water’ or ‘Mother Ocean’. MamiWata is the African water spirit who appears in the shape of a mermaid. It is said that those who she takes for her lovers, return with a new spirit and become more successful and good looking. The brand design ethos is to produce high quality surf apparel, surfboards and accessories designed to survive African surf adventures and are manufactured ethically in Africa.
By producing high quality and long lasting products in Africa, manufactured ethically, with great design and telling a distinct story of African surf adventure.
The brand cleverly launched in the market with a fashion-cum-lifestyle film titled, ‘Woza – The African Surf Film’. The video has been awarded Vimeo ‘Best of the Month’ and will screen soon at the Patagonia Film Festival in Santa Monica, the Berlin Surf Film Festival and Bali Surf Film Festival. You can watch the film here: https://vimeo.com/212603149. It was the brand’s gripping and incredibly shot edited, produced, directed et at. film ‘Woza – The African Surf Film’ that got me very interested in the brand and wanting to find out more about Mami Wata the African surf brand:
Can you please share your insight on (South) African’s surf brands? Do we have any? There are a few local brands, but not one great global African surf brand. Nothing on the level of Quiksilver, Billabong, RVCA, Vans. All of which own the surf apparel space in Africa. But the look and feel is quite generic and international / Western. Africa has some of the best waves in the world and a unique design aesthetic, but no brand is telling that story.
What is the surf culture in the continent, is it big, is it small, is it developing – do you have some figures? What is interesting is that South Africa actually established the benchmark for the modern surf brand, through companies like Gotcha and Instinct in the late 70s and 80s. These were the predecessors Quiksilver and Billabong. So South Africa enjoys a very established reputation in the international surfing community, and increasingly surfing in South Africa is finding mainstream appeal through grass roots surfing organisations like Waves For Change and Surfers Not Street Children, surfing is literally changing lives in Africa. There are small grass roots surf communities taking hold across the continent from Namibia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’ivoire, Sao Tome, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Morocco, Cape Vrede and Senegal. There are indigenous surfing cultures anywhere you find subsistence fishing communities and the continent is blessed with beautiful waves and unspoilt beaches, so you can imagine surf culture is spreading naturally and organically.
An inspiration for our designs are the many surf breaks across the continent. The Mfazazana boardshorts are inspired by the Mfazazana point break in rural KwaZulu-Natal. And the Tofo surf trunks honour the crystal tropical waters of Praia do Tofo in the Inhambane Province of Mozambique.
What is your unique selling point compared to other brands in the market, if there are any? Design and quality. We have a modern design aesthetic that’s inspired by heritage and contemporary African design. We build products that will survive surf adventures in Africa
A little bit more about the co- foundersm, how many are they and who are they? We have three founders, Nick Dutton, Andy Davis and Peet Pienaar.
Surfer and CEO Nick Dutton’s had a 20-year career in advertising in South Africa and London working globally on the some of the world’s most creative brands, such as Volvo, Snickers and Jaguar. A published novelist, Nick has travelled extensively around Southern Africa.
Chief Surf Officer Andy Davis has been a journalist, magazine editor, filmmaker, publisher and entrepreneur. He has spent the last 20 years travelling the African continent, Madagascar, the Macarenes and Indonesian Archipelagos in search of unique experiences. He currently resides in Durban, South Africa, where he publishes Zigzag surf magazine, and promotes The Sakifo Musik Festival and surfs and travels as much as possible.
Creative Director, Peet Pienaar, is an artist, designer and son of South African farmers. He has designed for New York Times, MTV, Corn me Des Garcon, Diesel, Camper, FIFA, IBM and Nando’s, and created Afro magazine as a research ride into African design. He is also the designer behind Bos Ice Tea, with designs, posters and artworks in 12 international museum collections.
Q) You are affiliated with Avuyile Ndamase, can you please give some of his background? Avuyile Ndamase is our lead brand ambassador. ‘Avo’ is a 22-year-old surfer hailing from Pondoland in the Transkei, South Africa. He grew up on the banks of the Bulolo river just behind Second Beach in Port st Johns with his mother and younger brother Zama. At the age of 14 he turned down a trial at Ajax Cape Town Football Club that could have led to a professional career. Instead he chose surfing. He was introduced to the sport by the Iliza Surf Academy in Port St Johns and both he and Zama were chosen to represent Border from an early age. Tragically his brother Zama was killed by a Zambezi shark while surfing their home beach in 2012. The tragedy hardened Avo’s resolve to carve a life and career for himself out of surfing, with the aim of sharing the sport of kings with other kids from underprivileged backgrounds and inspiring them to get free, travel, discover and enjoy the ocean elements that continue to both shape and inspire him.
Q) How do you plan on becoming ‘the world’s first great African surf brand? By producing high quality and long lasting products in Africa, manufactured ethically, with great design and telling a distinct story of African surf adventure.
Q) “We’re passionate about Africa, surf and design. Africa’s got some of the world’s best waves, yet there aren’t any brands telling that story. Africa is the new frontier, not just of surf exploration. The continent has fostered many indigenous surfing cultures and this is a great story to tell. We want to take our locally made and designed surf gear and apparel to the world” can you please elaborate further on this, what are these indigenous surfing cultures you speak of? What makes our local culture different from others and which others are these?
In places like Sao Tome and Madagascar local kids gravitate to the beach and ride waves on home-shaped buoyant pieces of wood. Give them a modern surfboard and they progress very quickly, because they know the ocean and have been riding waves, bodysurfing, swimming and fishing in the sea all their lives. The same is true of Mozambique, Angola, Ghana, Liberia etc. etc. wherever there is a subsistence fishing culture you will find indigenous surf cultures. These are not very different to what you may find in Hawaii, Australia, California or Japan and Peru – in essence it’s just people floating around in the sea enjoying the sensation of riding waves to the shore. It’s a simple pleasure: meaningless yet transcendental at the same time.
“The Mami Wata range includes a number of lifestyle products, ranging from hand-crafted surfboards, to surf apparel and even coffee, all built to last and to survive an African surf adventure. Every Mami Wata product is sourced, designed and produced in Africa.” Can you please be more specific, where in Africa are these products sourced? I received the press drop (thank you) and saw the coffee is from Congo. Where are the clothes and the surfboards made in Africa? The board shorts have been produced in Durban and Swaziland. The tee-shirt fabric is from Durban, and they were made in Cape Town. The surf-boards are shaped in J-Bay.
The brand’s offering is available globally online and in select surf stores in South Africa. Find out more: http://mamiwata.surf/ | Facebook: @mamiwatasurf | Instagram @mamiwatasurf