Khadjou Sambe grew up in the capital Dakar and is the first black woman to surf the waves of the Atlantic in Senegal. She became a surfing professional and now inspires future generations
Without being intimidated by the postponement of the Olympic Games, where Sambe will represent Senegal in the debut of surfing as an Olympic sport, the African woman trains whenever conditions permit, on a beach near her home, in the poor neighborhood of Ngor – the most western point of the African continent.
“When I’m in the water, I feel something extraordinary, something special in my heart,” Sambe told Reuters, while wearing a “Black Girls Surf” (BGS) shirt, which helps black girls and women around the world to enter the world of surf.
Sambe is a proud Lebou – an ethnicity that traditionally lives by the sea – but when she was a teenager, her parents refused to let her surf for two and a half years, arguing that it embarrassed the family. “My determination was strong enough to make them change their minds,” she smiled.
Sambe, in addition to betting heavily on her career, also trains local girls, encouraging them to develop physical and mental strength to surf the waves and break barriers in a conservative society where women are generally expected to stay at home, cook, clean and get married young. “I always advise you not to listen to these backward things”, he assumed.
Residents of Ngor have grown accustomed to seeing Sambe carry the board through the alleys that lead her to the coast. In recent months, however, she has occupied a home overlooking the ocean as a base during a visit by BGS mentor and founder, American Rhonda Harper.
“I used to see people surfing and I thought to myself: but where are the women?” After that, it was easy. Sambe made the decision: “I am going to surf, a black woman representing my country, Senegal, representing Africa.”
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