Ndamase did not have to journey far with his board; he lived simply 300 yards from the water in Port St. Johns, a small city on the Wild Coast within the Eastern Cape province.
Ndamase says he was “super humbled by nature, because — you know — you are just so small,” and he marveled on the pure world round him, studying all he may by watching David Attenborough or National Geographic documentaries on tv after faculty. “I made it a point; I watched it over animation.
“The ocean at all times supplied,” he mused. But it has also taken away. In 2011, Ndamase watched on helplessly as his younger brother, Zama, was killed by a shark.
If Ndamase is philosophical now, there’s no doubting the trauma he experienced. He says it doesn’t sting anymore, but he prefers not to dwell on the details; however, a few years ago, he described to CNN the sight of a “blood bomb” underwater, “the worst expertise of my life and doubtless would be the worst, ever.”
He stayed out of the water for a while, but when he was ready, nature gave him the tools for rehabilitation, “I did not go to a lot remedy as a result of I had the ocean; the ocean is my remedy.
“You know, for many years, people live in places that are like right by the sea and everything is cool. And then next thing, people are having a tsunami and the ocean will be seen as the enemy. I think the ocean should just be a place that reminds us of how small we are and how we should actually look after each other.”
In 2020, Ndamase celebrated his brother, their relationship and his reference to nature in a quick movie known as “Amanzi Olwandle” (“Ocean Water”).
The three-minute function, produced by Timothy Way, depicts the 2 brothers giddy with pleasure at dawn and speeding down to the shore. Zama smiles at his older sibling and runs into the surf, just for the frothing water to flip crimson shortly afterwards.
As an grownup, Avo returns to the seashore alone, offering the narration that cuts to the essence of his story, “In many African cultures, it is believed ancestors live under the ocean. It is a mysterious place that gives so much and yet can take it all away. A sacred place, and it’s where I find my solitude.”
Producing the movie was a nostalgic expertise, a return for Avo to easier instances.
“Those kids had the old boards, the raggedy wetsuits,” he recalled. “It really reminded me of where we were growing up. All our friends grew up in the township and we grew up right by the beach, so we had each other to play with every day in the lagoon, running around in the forest, in the mountains.”
The viewer can really feel the bond between the brothers, the disappointment of the passing, but the celebration of his life, and Ndamase says he can still really feel Zama’s presence each time he is on the board.
He defined, “I’ve had some spiritual people be like, ‘You know, your brother is right beside you every time,’ and I’ve felt it; I do feel like he’s super close to me.”
While he could not shield his brother from the shark, he can sense that Zama is looking for him. “I know he’s right there, always watching over me. I’m just grateful I had such a person in my life from a young age.”
At the My Røde Reel Awards in 2020, “Amanzi Olwandle” scooped up the $200,000 first prize, beating out entries from 113 international locations all over the world.
Judge Ryan Connolly praised the movie, saying, “Excellent cinematography, rock-solid pace, well-acted, and a ton of heart. It conveyed its emotion and story effortlessly while showing a lot of respect for its audience. I was really floored by it.”
Winning awards had by no means been the categorical intention of the undertaking, but the monetary windfall was definitely welcome. “It was like a sense of relief because we never really spoke about what would happen if we won. But it was really huge; it helped my family a lot.”
The ocean has at all times supplied.
When browsing makes its debut on the Olympics in Tokyo this summer time, there will not be any athletes who seem like Avo Ndamase. In the previous, he is hinted at racism throughout the sport, but throughout this interview, he most popular to concentrate on what he’d like to do with browsing, reasonably than what he cannot.
The two South African surfers on the World Surf League roster, Jordy Smith and Matthew McGillivray, are White, and there are no Black surfers on both the lads’s or ladies’s excursions.
“The representation of African surfing,” Ndamase famous, “is still blond and blue eyes; that’s basically where it’s at.”
He laments that whereas browsing is rising its platform on the world stage, “It’s not relatable. It’s either a luxury sport for really rich people or super athletes you cannot relate to. You cannot relate to a guy that wakes up every day and goes to the gym and he gets paid a lot of money by all these different companies.”
While Ndamase does have company partnerships of his personal, such as the clothes model Vast, he explains there may be one other aspect to browsing, much less about competitors, far more chill, forging connections with the earth and its individuals.
“There’s a different world to surfing, which is called free surfing, a lot of really cool people traveling the world and experiencing cultures. We try to make surfing a lot more relatable, inviting and welcoming.”
Surfing is how he makes a dwelling, but it has been much less of a profession and extra of a life-style.
“Surfers have always been attached to hippies and if you look at like old hippie photos, there’s a lot of multiracial going on. So, I think that’s what surfing should be like, going back to that old school.
“If I’m on a seashore someplace in Bali, or wherever on the planet and I’m simply being myself, it is a lot simpler for individuals to strategy me. That’s what’s vital, greater than the large leagues, you understand.”
The most important thing for Ndamase, though, is to protect the environment that he has always loved and respected.
He laments the me-first materialistic attitudes in society, the results of which he has to wade through in the ocean every day.
“It’s actually dangerous; I’m taking a lot plastic out of the water.”
He says he tries to clean up the beach every day when he leaves it, but he doesn’t believe that preaching to anybody is going to help solve the problem.
“It’s a work in progress, but we will solely struggle our personal battles and that is the place it will get irritating. People should see you do it. And then that is how we make it higher. Knock-on impact.”
Avo Ndamase at all times knew that the ocean was his future; he’ll do what he can to be sure that it presents a future to the generations to come, too.