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 “tremendous humbled by nature, as a result of — you understand — you might be simply 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 level; I watched it over animation.
“The ocean at all times supplied,” he mused. But it has additionally taken away. In 2011, Ndamase watched on helplessly as his youthful brother, Zama, was killed by a shark.
If Ndamase is philosophical now, there isn’t any doubting the trauma he skilled. He says it does not sting anymore, but he prefers not to dwell on the main points; nevertheless, a few years in the past, he described to CNN the sight of a “blood bomb” underwater, “the worst expertise of my life and possibly would be the worst, ever.”
He stayed out of the water for a whereas, but when he was prepared, nature gave him the instruments 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 a few years, individuals stay in locations which can be like proper by the ocean and all the things is cool. And then subsequent factor, persons are having a tsunami and the ocean shall be seen as the enemy. I feel the ocean ought to simply be a place that reminds us of how small we’re and the way we should always truly take care of one another.”
In 2020, Ndamase celebrated his brother, their relationship and his reference to nature in a quick movie referred to as “Amanzi Olwandle” (“Ocean Water”).
The three-minute characteristic, 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’s believed ancestors stay beneath the ocean. It is a mysterious place that offers a lot and but can take all of it away. A sacred place, and it is the place I discover my solitude.”
Producing the movie was a nostalgic expertise, a return for Avo to less complicated occasions.
“Those youngsters had the previous boards, the raggedy wetsuits,” he recalled. “It rang a bell in my memory of the place we have been rising up. All our mates grew up within the township and we grew up proper by the seashore, so we had one another to play with day by day within the lagoon, operating round within the forest, within 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 religious individuals be like, ‘You know, your brother is correct beside you each time,’ and I’ve felt it; I do really feel like he is tremendous shut to me.”
While he could not shield his brother from the shark, he can sense that Zama is looking for him. “I do know he is proper there, at all times watching over me. I’m simply grateful I had such a particular person in my life from a younger age.”
At the My Røde Reel Awards in 2020, “Amanzi Olwandle” scooped up the $200,000 first prize, beating out entries from 113 nations world wide.
Judge Ryan Connolly praised the movie, saying, “Excellent cinematography, rock-solid tempo, well-acted, and a ton of coronary heart. It conveyed its emotion and story effortlessly whereas displaying a lot of respect for its viewers. I used to be actually floored by it.”
Winning awards had by no means been the specific intention of the challenge, but the monetary windfall was actually welcome. “It was like a sense of reduction as a result of we by no means actually spoke about what would occur if we gained. But it was actually enormous; it helped my household a lot.”
The ocean has at all times supplied.
When browsing makes its debut on the Olympics in Tokyo this summer season, there will not be any athletes who appear to be Avo Ndamase. In the previous, he is hinted at racism inside the sport, but throughout this interview, he most popular to give attention to what he’d like to do with browsing, relatively 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 not any Black surfers on both the lads’s or ladies’s excursions.
“The illustration of African browsing,” Ndamase famous, “is still blond and blue eyes; that is mainly the place it is at.”
He laments that whereas browsing is rising its platform on the world stage, “It’s not relatable. It’s both a luxurious sport for actually wealthy individuals or tremendous athletes you can’t relate to. You can’t relate to a man that wakes up day by day and goes to the health club and he will get paid a lot of cash by all these completely different firms.”
While Ndamase does have company partnerships of his personal, such as the clothes model Vast, he explains there’s one other facet to browsing, much less about competitors, rather more chill, forging connections with the earth and its individuals.
“There’s a completely different world to browsing, which is named free browsing, a lot of actually cool individuals touring the world and experiencing cultures. We strive to make browsing a lot extra relatable, inviting and welcoming.”
Surfing is how he makes a residing, but it has been much less of a profession and extra of a way of life.
“Surfers have at all times been hooked up to hippies and should you take a look at like previous hippie photographs, there’s a lot of multiracial happening. So, I feel that is what browsing must be like, going again to that old style.
“If I’m on a seashore someplace in Bali, or wherever on this planet and I’m simply being myself, it is a lot simpler for individuals to method me. That’s what’s necessary, greater than the large leagues, you understand.”
The most necessary factor for Ndamase, although, is to shield the atmosphere that he has at all times cherished and revered.
He laments the me-first materialistic attitudes in society, the outcomes of which he has to wade by way of within the ocean day by day.
“It’s actually dangerous; I’m taking a lot plastic out of the water.”
He says he tries to clear up the seashore day by day when he leaves it, but he does not imagine that preaching to anyone goes to assist clear up the issue.
“It’s a work in progress, but we are able to solely combat 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 make certain it provides a future to the generations to come, too.