The skateboarders of Accra usually skate along the abandoned car parks in La, on the coast beyond Osu, to the east of the city centre. It’s a vast stretch of land made up of pavilions where traders from most parts of Africa and other continents sell their goods. We talked to Joshua, who mostly skateboards with a group of friends, about the scene in Accra.
It seems to be pretty niche and what you might consider the basics – skateboards, skate shops, skate parks and skaters – are in short supply. ‘Skating in Accra is fun but somehow difficult, because there are few good places to skate,’ Josh admits. But he knows it just means that skaterboarders have to be even more resourceful and passionate if they want to ride.
'We built the rail ourselves. We bought the metal pipe, cut them into our desired length and sent them to a machine shop about 20 mins walk from the Trade Fair where we skate. We show them how we want it and they weld it for us.'
'The skaters that inspire me? Aaron Kyro. I learn a lot from his YouTube videos. Ryan Sheckler, Rob Dydrek and Paul Rodriguez also inspire me with their personality and street skating skills.'
‘The main thing the Accra skate scene needs right now are people willing to teach and motivate others – like me. I devote my weekends to teaching people how to skate, although I don’t get paid for it. It’s fun.’
‘We started our skate brand, Thirty Three Kings clothing, a few years ago. We design the t-shirts and have them made by local artisans. We make them for our personal use.'
'It's also difficult to replace broken parts, since we can’t buy them here. We normally choose places with good concrete spots that are still in good smooth shape, just to keep our skates safe and to keep the wheels lasting long.'
Joshua’s ambitions are big. ‘A lot of people don’t know skateboarding exists in Ghana. We want skateboarding to be as popular as soccer. Some day, international companies will come and check us out too, in competitions and events.’
But you can see that for him it isn’t about the fame or the glory; it’s about the thrill. And it’s about the reality of worrying if he’ll always find a new set of wheels.