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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
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Thu, 23 November 2017

It is apt that the paddleout for fallen surf legend Ahmed Collier in Muizenberg this weekend takes place on the same day as the Outreach Games for developing youth, writes Spike.


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WYNBERG SURF: Ahmed Collier (front) with the Wynberg Surf Club. Photo Faeez Abrahams


Surfers-Circle-Walk-of-Fame-19-Mar-2017-025Ahmed Collier probably wouldn't have had it any other way than to be honoured and remembered on the same day that young surfers from all walks of life join hands to enjoy a special day of outreach among non-for-profit surfing organisations and development surf teams and clubs.

Collier, a respected elder in the surfing community and one of the early pioneers of non-racial surfing, died recently after a short illness.

He fought the hard yards to earn his place as a legend in our chequered surfing history, especially as an early member of the Wynberg Surf Club, which was at the forefront of fighting apartheid. Collier, with the founder of the club Shani Nagia and many others, were instrumental in highlighting racist wrongs.

They frequently challenged the ridiculous laws that made "non-whites" and "whites" attend separate beaches. Collier was repeatedly detained by the police for surfing at whites-only beaches as were the crew who formed a tough no-nonsense core, such as Mogamad Davids, Tahir Davids, Faeez Abrahams and Rafiq Bagus.

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SKYF OF LAS: A photo of the apartheid sign erected at Glen Beach. Photo Steve Gordon


outreach-games-poster-2017As Shafiq Morton - then Steve Morton - wrote in an article to commemorate Zigzag surfing magazine's 35th anniversary in 2011, it was Collier who "first paddled out at Long Beach, breaking all the racial taboos and really getting in your face if you didn’t like it".

This was ultimately why he and his young son and talented surfer Cass Collier decided to ignore the toxic competitive world of South African sport to surf overseas. As Morton, who hosts the drive time on Voice of the Cape FM from 4 to 6pm, wrote: Cass "went on the ASP Tour without surfing a single heat in SA against a white competitor".

You might remember Nicolaas Hofmeyr's film Taking Back the Waves and the archival foootage of Ahmed cheering for Cass at a surf event in Australia, with the latter wearing those horrible lumo colours that no-one can believe we wore back in the day. Those were the days also of Country Feeling and tight, bright boardshorts as made by Cheron Kraak, who later as head of Billabong in South Africa became one of the first sponsors of non-racial surfing.

Perhaps it was Ahmed's tough, never-say-die attitude that helped Cass become one of the world's most respected big wave surfers of his generation. Cass was - and remains - a fearless surfer who would take on anything that Sunset, Crayfish Factory or Dungeons could throw at him.

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NEW WORLD: Nicolaas Hofmeyr shooting his doccie Taking Back the Waves. Photo Supplied


The fearless gene came also from Ahmed's wife Fawzia, who has never been afraid to call a spade a spade. I last saw Ahmed and Fawzia at the ceremony to commemorate the unveiling of the Surfers Walk of Fame in Muizenberg.

It was good to see men and women gather together to recognise personalities involved in the evolution of surfing history - such as the often unheralded role of Shani Nagia.

'U never bowed so that we can all stand as equals'There have been many difficult times, and there is still stuff that has not been properly dealt with, but as Cass said on Facebook in a tribute to his dad, "We going to miss u dad. A true father of our youths. Till the end you stood your ground. U never bowed so that we can all stand as equals."

It is fitting and apt that the memorial and paddle out for Ahmed Collier on 26 November at Muizenberg will take place on the same day and venue as the Outreach Games presented by Share the Stoke Foundation to celebrate surfing and the youth.

The youth are our future. They are the ones that can make the difference.


The memorial will gather outside at African Soul Surfers and the paddle out will take place at 2pm. Water safety will be provided. See the Facebook event here. See more info on the Outreach Games here

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