26 January 2011

Andrea on Liquid Salt (an Online Publication)

Liquid Salt published an interview with Andrea. It's, in a word, amazing. The entire article is reprinted below.

Andrea Kabwasa

by Mary Mills · 8 comments

Andrea Kab­wasa is a Cal­i­for­nia surfer, artist, and teacher who exudes stoke every minute of the day. The joy she feels while surf­ing is evi­dent in the style and poise she exhibits on every wave. Andrea exem­pli­fies all that is right about this thing we call “surf­ing.“

What was your life like grow­ing up?
Our fam­ily trav­eled a lot when I grew up. Every cou­ple of years, we would pick up and move to a new, and very dif­fer­ent, part of the world. It’s all kind of a blur really—except, of course, for bits and pieces that stayed lodged into my long term mem­ory… like watch­ing my par­ents danc­ing at a friends party in Ethiopia. They seemed really happy. Or drink­ing fresh spring water squirt­ing out of a cliff in a jun­gle on our way to our fam­ily clan’s main vil­lage of Aten, Congo. I remem­ber jump­ing into the Kwilu River in Kik­wit. My sis­ters and I loved rid­ing the river’s cur­rent. My aunts would always scream hys­ter­i­cally that hip­pos and alli­ga­tors would eat us. We never believed it. Our dad said it was just superstition.

I also have mem­o­ries of always want­ing to be close to my sis­ters, Celine and Flo­rence. Celine gave me back­bone and exuded fun. Flo­rence always let me sleep in her bed when I was afraid at night. I remem­ber mak­ing my first free throw shot at a local park in Hawthorne, Cal­i­for­nia. It sur­prised me so much I lost my breath. There are so many ran­dom, and not so ran­dom, mem­o­ries scat­tered through­out my life grow­ing up.

When did you get your first surf­board?
Age 32. That was the year of major epipha­nies for me.

What was the feel­ing you had when you first stood on a surf­board?
I can’t remem­ber really. I do, how­ever, remem­ber how I felt afterwards—happy. I had for­got­ten what that felt like, to be truly happy with­out a care in the world (even if it was only for an hour). Need­less to say, I was hooked.

Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young woman?
What is young? I feel younger now than ever before. When I was 12 and under, I looked up to my sis­ter Flo­rence. At around 13 to 20 years of age, I looked up to my sis­ter Celine and my mom. Between 20 and 30, I fell in love with artists. Charles White? His fig­ures felt mon­u­men­tal to me. Jusepe de Rib­era? His intense sub­ject mat­ter and mas­ter­ful fig­ure paint­ing blows my mind. Basquiat? His paint­ings speak to me for their child­like style. Yet, at the same time, the paint­ings are com­plex and lay­ered, like jazz music. Basquiat cracked that secret “kid” code. I envy that.

Of all the places you have trav­eled to, what place in par­tic­u­lar stands out and why?
France, South­ern Baja and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia are all impor­tant to me for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. France stands out because of the trau­matic board­ing school expe­ri­ence. It haunted me all my life. Surf­ing and coun­sel­ing was the cure. South­ern Cal­i­for­nia is the only loca­tion that has truly felt like home to me.

South­ern Baja stands out as my place of rebirth. I had the longest noseride in my life in Baja. It lasted so long that I closed my eyes, looked up to the sky with my hands raised to the sky and said “Thank you.” This ride changed me inter­nally, com­pletely and for­ever. I found my heaven here on Earth while surf­ing. I feel so blessed, hum­bled and grate­ful for this oppor­tu­nity to feel pure hap­pi­ness in the midst of all the trou­bles that are occur­ring in our society.

Who or what inspires you?
Cre­ativ­ity, music, the ocean and wave riding.

What is the great­est thing you have learned in your life?
That is a tough ques­tion for me… I tend to look at life lessons in non-hierarchical terms. In my view, the act of learn­ing is organic. I know that all lessons learned, lead to a health­ier and hap­pier me. If I had to choose a con­sis­tent theme in most of my life lessons, then it would to value “change”. Surf­ing is all based on move­ment and learn­ing how to adjust/adapted to change suc­cess­fully (with­out fight­ing it).

Do you have any regrets or wish you had done some­thing dif­fer­ently?
Stu­dent loans. Oooooh, I regret them so much!

What are you most proud of?
Another tough ques­tion … I guess the moments in life that show me that any­thing is pos­si­ble. I feel hap­pier within myself these days. I’m proud of that.

What mean­ing does surf­ing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Short ver­sion? Surf­ing saved my life. Long ver­sion? When I dis­cov­ered surf­ing, I was try­ing to recover from the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects and residue of an abu­sive rela­tion­ship. Surf­ing gave me joy and hap­pi­ness when I hadn’t felt hap­pi­ness in years. I will never for­get my drive home after my first surf­ing lessons. I was filled with a pure hap­pi­ness, the kind of hap­pi­ness that wasn’t con­nected to any­thing or any­one. I was sim­ply happy.

So, for me, surf­ing is hap­pi­ness, love and self-empowerment. The act of inter­act­ing with water cleansed my inner spirit. Before surf­ing, the lens from which I viewed life was pretty dirty. I was filled with low self-worth and, at times, I made some pretty self-destructive choices. Surf­ing redi­rected that energy in a pos­i­tive direc­tion. When I surf, I feel beau­ti­ful. I’m a start­ing to feel beau­ti­ful on dry land too now.

Did your art­work change when you started surf­ing? If so, in what way(s)?
My art work is a reflec­tion of how I feel emo­tion­ally. Before surf­ing, my art­work had a sad, emo­tional under­tone to it. Then, surf­ing allowed me to expe­ri­ence hap­pi­ness on a daily basis. As I began to heal within myself, so too did my art­work. Lately, I mind surf on can­vas. I paint my ver­sions of what I believe Par­adise would look and feel like. It’s fun to paint my surf dreams. The icing on the cake is when my surf dreams come true. That’s a total trip!

What brings you the most hap­pi­ness in the world?
Hap­pi­ness is those rare moments when you are so com­pletely locked in, that you feel like you are danc­ing in har­mony with life itself. Each wave has a dif­fer­ent rhythm and a dif­fer­ent dance. I like wave-dancing. It makes me happy.

Who are some of the peo­ple you feel are shap­ing the path for surf­ing today?
Cyrus Sut­ton is impor­tant. I love the “Surf Suf­fi­cient” posts on his web­site, Korduroy.tv. The site is all about help­ing you learn how to do-it-yourself. Learn­ing to surf suf­fi­ciently is a con­cept that I hope will help shape the path for surf­ing today and in the future. I also think style will always shape the path of surf­ing. Surfers that styl­is­ti­cally excite me are Derek Hynd, Tyler War­ren, Jimmy Gam­boa, Julie Cox, Joel Tudor and Kevin Connelly.

What is your favorite board?
I have three boards on rota­tion. My Tim Phares Fluid Drive (Com­bat Model) is my favorite. Thank you, Tim!! I am more of a fin addict than a quiver junkie. My fins allow me to breathe new life into my old surf­boards. I love fig­ur­ing out how a fin’s design, and/or place­ment, changes the feel of my ride. I have fun explor­ing how fins enhance my slid­ing options.

Your favorite surf spot?
To date, Scor­pion Bay, Surfrider Beach and Saladitas.

What’s your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is an Ethiopian meal eaten with friends and fam­ily. Ethiopian food is served in a huge round plat­ter and you eat with your hands. You grab the food with a sour, doughy, flat, pancake-like bread called injera. For the appe­tizer, veg­e­tar­ian samosas. For the main course, dorot wot, kitfu, awaze tibs, yel­low and red lentils, cooked cab­bage with pota­toes and car­rots along with fried trout.

What are you cur­rently lis­ten­ing to on your iPod?
My sum­mer down­loads included Lau­ryn Hill’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind,” Xavier Rudd’s “No Woman No Cry,” Sublime’s “Doin’ Time (Uptown Dub),” Indigo Swing’s “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” Sade’s “Baby­fa­ther” and Kate Nash’s “Nicest Thing”.

What are you most grate­ful for?
I am grate­ful for my family’s love. I am grate­ful for the oceans and surf­ing. I am grate­ful for my drink­ing water. I am grate­ful for cre­ativ­ity. I am grate­ful for the stu­dents that I love to teach. I am grate­ful for South­ern Cal­i­for­nia weather. I am grate­ful for my friends. I am grate­ful for my planet. This list could go on and on. There is so much for me to be thank­ful and grate­ful for. Life is beau­ti­ful and I am thank­ful I have the oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence it.

What’s next for Andrea Kab­wasa?
Some sort of change.

Pho­tog­ra­phy cred­its: Ken Samuels (top photo, surf­board art, por­trait). Bar­rel photo by Jack Hud­kins and soul arch photo by JD Massey.

RB Paddle Out Reflections

I'm so proud to be a part of a community, our Black surfing community that displays love compassion and respect for the many others who walk this similar journey on the planet. We are the lucky one's who have gotten the chance to be free and to live our dreams. Those dreams do come with risks, but life has always been risky. Together we gathered to celebrate Zama's life and to acknowledge his peaceful transition. And together there we dipped into our Mother Ocean. Once again I felt the warm connection deep inside that only sharing service with other surfers seems to bring. Thanks to Andrea for organizing and Mary, Ken, Rusty, Sharon, Marie, Donna, Dave and Will for their participation.

19 January 2011

Stupid Surf Shop Ad that Caused Such a Fuss

I'm posting it here for posterity. Thalia Surf Shop pulled the ad, which had appeared on its online site, after many complaints. The ad generated so much attention that the uproar even made it to the television news. So, here it is:

18 January 2011

BSA Paddle Out

When: Saturday 1/22/2011 @ 9am
Where: Inkwell/Bay Street Santa Monica
What to bring: Your surfboard/boogie board and a flower (offering)
Zama was a beautiful young black South African surfer/waterman who loved the ocean. Please find the time to come a show your respect and to honor the life of a gifted young surfer.

16 January 2011

16-year-old South African Surfer Dies in Shark Attack

16-year-old becomes fifth shark victim at Port St Johns in last three years
January 15, 2011

Zama Ndamase, a 2009 Surfing South Africa Scholarship recipient, died today in a horrific shark attack. The 16-year-old was surfing with his brother, Avuyile, and other members of the local surf club at Second Beach in Port St Johns when the attack occurred. The talented surfer is the fifth shark victim at this notorious beach in the last three years. Four of the attacks have been fatal. According to reports, Zama managed to catch a wave after being bitten and attempted to reach the shore. Tragically he bled to death in the water before he could be rescued by the lifeguards and rescue craft. View Non-Flash Version
Zama was one of the most talented surfers to emerge from this remote region and was a leader among the up-and-coming waveriders in the area. He represented Border at the SA Grommet Games and at the SA Junior Championships in Cape Town last October. He was awarded a SSA Surfing Scholarship in 2009 along with fellow Port St Johns surfer Zitobile Msesiwe.

Representatives and members of Border Surfriders Association, Surfing South Africa, Zama's long time coach and mentor Mike Gatke, his East London based teammates and the local surfers are devastated by the tragedy.

Malcome Logie of the BSA said of Zama: "He was a young guy, full of spirit and always ready for a laugh. He was always willing to help his teammates and enjoyed giving the younger surfers encouragement and advice. Border was looking to him to play a leading role in our team this year. His passing leaves us numb and with a huge sense of loss."

There is real concern that the surfers who were in the water during the attack will not be able to cope and plans are being made to send a counselor to the area to help the locals handle the tragedy.

The Port St Johns community is poor and there is precious little money to assist the Ndamase family deal with their grief nor are there funds available to pay for the costs of sending a counselor to help the community. The Border Surfriders Association and Surfing South Africa are therefore appealing for support to cover these expenses. All funds raised will be used to assist the Ndamase family with expenses and contribute to the costs of sending a grief counselor to work with the family and the community.

Any donations can be made to the following account:

Surfing South Africa
FNB Rondebosch 201509
50170019142 (current account)

Please include your name, contact number or email and ZAMA as the reference.

Compiled by Robin de Kock, General Manager, Surfing South Africa