The people of the Gold Coast had had their own Assembly under the British but not independence in 1957 they became the first Black Africans to get complete freedom, ‘For Dr Nkrumah—main architect of Ghana’s independence—this is a day of fulfilment, the longing to be free, the need to be free; these are part of the rightful heritage of man. A heritage denied to colonial Africa until now’…
Not exactly how one would imagine a 12 minute short film described as “across-over skate edit” to begin. “YASIS”, filmed in Accra, Ghana during August of 2019 over a span of 10 days by Gaborone, based photographer and videographer Mosako Lowsso Chalashika, is a collaborative project between the Botswana creative and Nigeria’s first skateboarding company WAFFLESNCREAM chronicling their Summer 2019 skate tour across Accra. “It’s 12 minutes of pure shredding bliss featuring the WAFFLESNCREAM skate crew from Lagos; Fahd Bello & Henry and Okwubuasi and Accra locals Adrys, Mantedent, Lionel McFirst, John Brobel, Yaw Adeiei and J. Ganyobi”. The company was founded in 2012 and serves as the very first hub for skate culture and extreme sports in the region of West Africa.
Our aim is to grow the culture of skateboarding within Nigeria, by supporting youth who show talent and interest in the sport. Over the years developing an informal skating structure within the city of Lagos and cities in the West African region. Oftentimes documenting these sessions, meeting new skaters and growing our skate community along the way. Our flagship store – “Shop” – [which opened] its doors in 2017, served as a safe space for the Lagos underground scene, Nigerian youth of different backgrounds congregate – further nurturing this fast growing subculture…There are no designated spaces for skating in Lagos, so…we have been working tirelessly on changing that. In conjunction with the Lagos State Government, we will open West Africa’s first public skate park, with an aim of building more parks in other key cities around the West African region.
Photograph sourced from wafflesncream.com
Although named a skateboarding video by its collaborative makers, I encounter “YASIS” as an incoherently-coherent audiovisual collage that aims to provoke at or sit in meditation with larger questions of history and politics. Of being made and unmade; conquered and conquering—of the scramble for Africa, and of Africa’s scramble back to herself. Engagement with these bigger questions is mediated through the marrying of the story of skateboarding youth culture(s) in the context of postcolonial African modernity and Africa’s history and encounter—particularly that of West Africa—with colonialism and the liberation struggle. Kwame Nkrumah; elected Prime Minister of an independent Ghana Republic in 1952, Organisation of African Unity idea originator and among the most notable African Nationalists and Socialists of the 20th century lies at the heart of the short film’s narrative symbolism and some of the ideas ebbing below its surface.
In Nkrumah we find a representation of the struggle for a free and democratic Africa. A struggle which never ends as Haberman (2012) as put it, ‘it is a law of life. The continuity of this struggle is evident in the fact that his is theory of neo-colonialism is still very valid today; with the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) in Africa, most African countries, including Ghana, cannot truly claim that they possess economic independence since the decisions for implementation of the SAPs are taken in New York and the West. (Kanu, Ikechukwu Anthony).
Stitching the past, present and future together, “YASIS” almost leaves its impression on you as being an overheard-by-mistake internal dialogue. One that implicates both H/history and politics—but one that is told through the small moments, senses and movements of the now, through the story of a bunch of kids from Botswana, Nigeria and Ghana moving through life from their own subjective positions, yet, being collectively moved by a shared love for skateboarding and same-same-but-different socio-historical encounters.