Surf Ghana’s Sandy Alibo Wants You to Connect with Your Community

Sandy Alibo, the founder of Surf Ghana and coordinator for Black Girls Surf, is championing African sports and the culture surrounding it. After visiting the country for the first time, Alibo connected with groups of Ghanaian skaters and surfers. Realizing the quiet yet significant nature of skate and surf culture in Ghana, Sandy created the SurfGhana Instagram account to document and highlight the stories of Ghana’s invisible athletes. Now, taking the momentum she built through youth-focused initiatives and community events, Sandy continues to drive for greater accessibility of these sports. Currently, Sandy is collaborating with Daily Paper, the Dutch Ghanaian fashion brand to raise funds for Ghana’s first-ever skatepark. Committed to cultivating a path for sports tourism in Ghana and beyond, Sandy Alibo is firmly placed in any conversation about dynamic women within our creative industries.

M-What made you start SurfGhana?

I have always been passionate about sports. When I first traveled to Ghana, I managed to connect with skaters and surfers here. I realized during the trip that there weren’t a lot of platforms that were talking about these surfers and skaters despite it being a part of Ghanaian life. These people were really invisible. So I decided to create Surf Ghana’s Instagram account, just to really highlight the stories of skateboarders and surfers in Ghana and their way of life. It was just a way to talk about Ghana in a different perspective, show her in a new light. Additionally, it was also to kind of bring attention to and develop the idea of sport tourism in Africa.

M-How did you grow Surf Ghana from an Instagram account to a fully-fledged organization?

It started as a passion project with the goal to spread awareness and to highlight the stories of surfers and skaters etc. But naturally, as you go, especially with working on social media, you interact and end up working with so many different parts of the community. People wanted to help and they liked what we were doing, so we started collecting more equipment. People started inviting us to their events, intimate concerts, events like AsaaBaako  Festival, MerchMania. We started curating our own events even. Through social media, we were able to connect with like-minded brands, collectives and really connect with the Black and African community.

M-What does representation mean to you?

Now, there is a lot of talk about black representation, but when we started it was really necessary for us to develop that. There weren’t many accounts talking about African surfers or African skateboarders. Most of the time, they were showing ex-pats or POC. So it was important for us to show Ghanaians that yes, you can do it and people like you are doing it. It was important to inspire people and show them that they can. Even with the fundraising for Ghana’s first skatepark, it was important to show the world that the community can do it themselves. Because we need to try. We need to create and connect. We can connect at the right moment and build something for ourselves and for the future. Whether it’s reaching out to Africans in the diaspora or connecting online, we need to build this infrastructure for ourselves.

M-What motivates you to keep going?

Navigating as a woman in the sports industry has been difficult. People outside know that we know what we are talking about, but being in Ghana, I am “just” a woman. Sometimes I try to organize meetings with the government, other sports institutions and it gets difficult. It’s okay though because women are doing so many important things and we have women supporting women who are willing to help so it does not matter if others don’t want to give us the support we need. It would be nice to have it but we are going to keep building and organizing. When I think about women or young people who want to try these sports out, I get the motivation I need to keep going. 

M-Why is it important for women to be involved in sports?

I feel like everything can be possible for women now. We have workshops, panels, and opportunities to educate and uplift women. There are so many initiatives that are committed to creating safe spaces for women. When creating initiatives, we have to take into consideration the different needs of women. With women in action sports, it’s harder when you’re alone and trying it out for your first time, when you are with 5 or 6 women, I guarantee that everyone feels more confident and more willing to try. We need these safe spaces to help women feel comfortable being active and to contribute to the overall well-being of women.

M-Why is it important for people to discover and connect with their communities?

It was harder for our parents in the past, now because of the internet, the youth can organize, hold panels, conferences and share knowledge. That is why I insist on social media. It’s a new generation where borders don’t matter as much now. We don’t need to feel that Oh because we are in Ghana, we have to something in Ghana for Ghanaians we can connect with other communities because we are all linked and we can gain inspiration from each other. I take the time to connect and brainstorm with other women, no matter where they are based. With the resources we have now, people need to stay curious and interested. There are so many resources and I feel like it’s easy to ask for help. We are a huge family online so if we connect we can move faster and build sustainable projects together for the better.

Follow Surf Ghana on Instagram to find out more about Sandy Alibo and the great work her community has been doing for sports tourism in Ghana and beyond. Make sure to check out Surf Ghana’s GoFundme page to support the opening of the first-ever skatepark in Ghana.

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