Skateboarders risk Jozi inner-city streets

Dirty, stained streets filled with people rushing off to their workplaces is a regular part of any city. Through it all though some boys and young men find the time to skateboard in the Joburg city centre.

‘City Rebels’ is the name the skateboarders give to themselves. They see their sport as a way to free themselves from life’s troubles in same way as graffiti artists do through their art.

Skateboarding is a art which developed in the 1950’s in the American city of California.

Jozi central is where these young men choose to skate.  Some residents and security guards despise their presence and chase them away or threaten them with police action or physcial assault.

Fadill Hough, a teenager living in Newtown, says he has been physically assaulted by a security guard before. “We, the skateboarding pack, were skating around Newton laying down a few tricks. A security guard called all the boys to him and singled me out, being the smallest, and then smacked me with his big hand on my face”, said Fadill.

[pullquote align=”right”]”I see skateboarding as street culture, like an art form”[/pullquote]

Many of the boys interviewed, meet regularly at the Library Gardens in Braamfontein near Bree taxi rank. They say that even the taxi drivers don’t look out for them.

Sam Khumalo, 23, who is a professional skateboarder,  says that being a skateboarder is both his job and hobby. “All skateboarders use their boards as a way of transportation unless it’s a far place then you’re going to use a car or public transport”.

Sam also added that his skateboarding idol is Stevie Williams, a black professional skateboarder who originates from Philadelphia, America.

“For me I see skateboarding as street culture, like an art form, that includes music, art and girls. I don’t skate because it’s a hobby, I skate because it’s my passion and career. Most skaters end up in music”, added Sam.

Sam currently has a number of corporate sponsors which allows him to participate in professional competitions.

Thabo Nage aged 26 is another local skateboarding professional who says good things come from touring for example: parties, life on the road can be unpredictable, being able to play any role and lastly having ‘skate groupies’.

Thabo was once knocked down in Sandhurst, and the driver drove off leaving him injured at the side of the road.

But that hasn’t stopped him from skateboarding.