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Meet Kwami Adzitso, The Ghanaian-American Helping Build West Africa’s Skate Empire

Kwami<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Adzitso Photo<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>credit Ariana Katechis

 

Ghana’s thriving skate community is not only inspiring the rest of the world, but also encouraging diasporans to return home.

Freedom Skate Park, a massive infrastructure for sustainable tourism and social change, is located in the heart of Accra, Ghana’s capital, just within the airport enclave of the bustling city.

Ghana’s first skate park, which opened a year ago on December 15th, 2021, is quickly becoming a popular destination for visitors and diasporans returning home. The skate park, which was a part of Virgil Abloh’s dream, is now home to thousands of young people who are becoming a growing force in West Africa’s skate empire.

Just a year after its debut, the skate park is attracting a lot of attention, particularly from African diasporans looking for a reason to return home. Kwami Adzitso, a Ghanaian-American professional skateboarder, is one of many who have found a reason to return home after Virgil Abloh. Kwami, who currently resides in Long Beach, California after relocating in 2001 due to financial difficulties, is dominating the international skate scene. “My family relocated to a refugee camp in Ghana while awaiting asylum. We lived in the camp until I was seven years old before moving to the United States,” Kwami said.

Kwami has been skating for 15 years, and learning about Ghana’s Freedom Skate Park piqued his interest, prompting him to return home to join his brothers and sisters. “It gave me a feeling of satisfaction and euphoria, letting me know that all the years of hard work are paying off and, in other words, a full circle moment”. Kwami said.  

For Kwami, having a skate park back home is a dream come true, and skating for the first time on Ghanaian soil means a lot. Skateboarding, unlike others, began as a recreational activity for Kwami in middle school abroad. Kwami will borrow a skateboard from a friend after school to practice the sport. Soon after, his parents purchased his first skateboard. “Skateboarding started as a means of transportation. Once we found out you could do tricks from the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, we were hooked”. Kwami said.

Kwami took up skateboarding as a hobby because there were few activities available at the time, and it was expensive for him, especially since he came from an immigrant family. “My parents didn’t have much money to spend on outdoor activities….”he stated. Kwami was relentless and discovered skateboarding as a sport that could be done by himself or as a group, which drew him more to it.

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Kwami’s upbringing is similar to that of the young skateboarders we see on the streets of Accra and other Sub-Saharan African countries. Sandy Alibo, one of the brains behind Surf Ghana and Skate Nation Ghana, two communities that influenced the construction of the skate park, was inspired by stories like Kwami’s. Since its inception, the freedom skate park has served as a safe haven for young and aspiring professional skaters, as well as a venue for self-expression. Today, the freedom skate park brings action sports to Ghana’s urban landscape while also providing opportunities for the country’s youth.

The West African skateboarding ecosystem is finally receiving the attention it deserves, and the rest of the world is not prepared. Countries such as Nigeria have recently been inspired by Ghana’s freedom skate park and are working to establish a skate park in Lagos. South Africa’s skate scene has been around since the early 1960s and is still going strong. Skateboarding is changing the lives of street children in Kenya’s various communities. Today, Ghana, with the help of donors and people like Kwami, is helping to transform the lives of African youth through the Freedom Skate Park.

For Kwami, the West African skateboarding scene is all about community and bringing people together to have a good time, which is one of the reasons he returned home. Kwami is a role model and icon for a small group of skateboarders in Ghana. Kwami has been itching to return home for about seven years after hearing about the exciting developments in Ghana’s skate scene. “It was vital for me to go home after seven years for several reasons. One being the skateboard community was beginning to develop in Ghana. Sandy Alibo and  Surf Ghana reached out to me a few years ago to share their fundraising efforts to build the Freedom Skatepark in Accra; I just knew that I had to help in any way”. Kwami said

Returning home and being present at the first anniversary of the freedom skate park means a lot to Kwami. Coming home after many years to support and nurture the youth is rewarding, aside from being a dream come true. “I feel like when you’re presented with the opportunity to do good and give back in the end, the feeling is always rewarding, and that’s exactly how it felt,” he said.

Kwami contributes to Ghana’s skate community by serving as a role model for training and inspiring the youth. Kwami is helping to grow the skate community in Ghana by collaborating with Sandy and her team at Surf Ghana.

Kwami believes African skateboarding has a future and, like soccer, will be Africa’s next big thing in a few years. “I feel like I can help grow the scene by continuing to do what I do, teaming up with my sponsors to find ways to provide skateboard necessities to the skaters and getting coverage via different media outlets to put Ghana skateboarding on the map,” he said.

Kwami wants the rest of West Africa to know that there is someone fighting for the continent’s recognition in action sports and finally making it to the skateboarding Olympics.

Kwami hopes to travel throughout Africa in the coming years, collaborating with organizations that share his passion for providing skateboarding opportunities to as many African youths as possible. Kwami is grateful to Sandy and her team for giving birth to this fantastic idea, as well as to Virgil Abloh, whose legacy lives on.

 

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Written by How Africa News

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