Africa riding is a series that captures the subculture of skateboarding, cycling and rollerblading across African cities.
The documentary captures the cities and spaces that the subjects move through and we get to have a glimpse into these rapidly expanding urban centres.
Africa Riding creators, Liz Gomis and Aurelien Biette, made a documentary that looks at change that is being driven by youth in Africa and the culture that surrounds them. This shift throughout African cities is fast-paced and the series ‘Africa Riding’ lets us see it in a literal and visceral way.
What we see is a small part of much larger community projects that are giving form to positive shifts among young people building self-esteem, discipline and a concrete manifestation of emotion.
This documentary series presents itself in an eight part series and explores beyond the sports themselves.
The people in each of the episodes are igniting social change through their art and their sport. In many cases, they are also reclaiming their own narrative through the subcultures of which they are a part.
The documentary is filmed in multiple languages and has skillfully shown us the new ways that people are choosing to navigate through their urban spaces. These also becomes news ways of expression.
Liz Gomis is a French/Bissau-Guinean director and journalist who identified with the people that she was documenting. Using social media, she discovered the subjects for her documentary and then used multiple platforms to build a relationship and interview. The Director of Production on the film series was Aurélien Biette.
Art in motion.
What sets this documentary apart from many others that try to document youth culture on the continent, is the way that it traverses four different countries. Due to travel constraints, many projects remain focused on one city, however, Africa Riding identifies significant characters across four countries.
Each episode in the series follows a specific character and the influence that they have in their surrounding community.
One of the films follows Philippe ‘Chance’ Darko from Accra, Ghana. He is a skateboarder that is using what little resources he has to encourage young Ghanaians to take up the activity. He and his friends use their shared interest of skateboarding as the basis for their projects and entrepreneurial ideas. They also use innovative methods to create their own boards.
Another skateboarder, Modou Diongue from Dakar, Sengal, is also a graffiti artist, painter and activist. Through his work and his skateboarding, he is allowing a growing community of like minded young people to come together, learn and thrive while aiming to put Dakar on the map in terms of skateboarding.
Mika Hirwa from Kigali, Rwanda, took to skating immediately and has found this new mode of transport has allowed him to access different parts of the city. This, in turn, has given him the opportunity to view Rwandan society in new and interesting ways. These insights are used in his graphic novel illustrations and drawings.
Jackson Mubiro is from Kampala in Uganda and has created a skatepark that draws young people from all over the city strengthening ties within the community. Mubiro aims to give young people in Kampala something that will bring them happiness.
Another woman in the documentary, Dominica Bibane is from Ghana. She is a skateboarder in a city where there isn’t female representation in the activity. Living in a conservative country where not many women even wear trousers, she is an icon of change for many.
The first female coach of the Kampala Cycling Club is Marion Ayebale from Uganda. Although cycling is not something that a lot of women in Uganda do and in some parts its prohibited, she has blazed a trail and become an inspiration to all sports people and women around the country.
Ibrahim Kanamwanji also hails from Uganda and is a BMX rider and street dancer. Ibrahim sees these forms of self expression as an important outlet in a country that stifles political opposition.
Finally, Abdul Karim Habyarimana moved from Burundi to Rwanda taking his roller skates, now an extension of his legs, with him. He is able to skate with intense skill and has been noticed and admired by many in Kangala for his talent.
Shaping their own environment.
The environment in which these youths live and have grown up in have shaped the ingenuity and creativity that they now use in their respective sports. In turn, they are now shaping that same environment and changing the future of it.
Although this series of films follows individuals, there is a nod towards the way that community is created through skateboarding, cycling and rollerskating.
The documentary serves as an insight into the lives of some of the individuals that are shifting perspectives across the continent. It is an important body of work that reveals the youth culture, entrepreneurship and wealth of ideas that exist in Africa.
Click here to find out more about this amazing project!