Photo Credit: Babacar Thiaw
African Waves: Meet The Man Behind Senegal's Black-Owned Surf Village
Babacar Thiaw, the man behind Senegal’s Black-owned surf village, has been surfing since he was six years old. His dad would take him to the beach where he watched his father go scuba diving.
“My father would go out and get some fish or hang out with his friends. They were like family,” said Thiaw “I used to think as a child, ‘when I grow up, I would like to keep this legacy.’”
Thiaw would give surfing lessons to people on the weekends and during his spare time, to help him pay through school. After graduation, he invested all of his energy into the restaurant and surf village he owns in Dakar called Copa Cabana Surf Village.
“I wanted to bring a local Black-owned business to our community because everything here in Senegal is owned by the Lebanese or French people. For me, it’s very important that we have something to pass from generation to generation,” he told Travel Noire.
He also wanted to put surfing in Africa on the map and change the face of an activity that has been too often, represented by non-Black faces.
“We have a big surfing community here, but we don’t see the investment or advertisement that you may see in places like Hawaii or Australia. Here in Africa, we don’t have sponsors and that’s been the challenge. Growing up, I wanted to compete in surfing. I realized that surfing doesn’t sponsor children the way soccer does. It costs a lot of money.”
That’s why he makes it his mission to help the children in his community surf without the cost barrier.
When you book with Copa Surf Village, you will get a one-on-one session or you can choose to learn with a group.
“We start out with an initiation of the beach before we go to the water. I show people all the basics that they need to know during surfing and after that we go surfing.