Photos

In Photos: Meet Nigeria's First Skate Crew—WAFFLES N CREAM

We catch up with contributor Amarachi Nwosu on the inspiration and process behind her photo essay featuring Nigeria's first skate crew.

Meet WAFFLES N CREAM—Nigeria’s first skate crew showing that on the continent, skate culture exists and is alive and well outside of South Africa and Ethiopia. The team seeks to connect streetwear, skate and social impact with the Nigerian experience.


OkayAfrica contributing writer Amarachi Nwosu caught up with the crew to shoot a photo essay while in Lagos for Highsnobiety. Her shoot has been making waves on the internet over the past week—with mentions from Afropunk and Unrated.

“Despite Nigeria being one of the most populated countries in Africa, the lack of infrastructure and resources has made it difficult for kids in action sports to take their talents to the next level,” Nwosu says for Highsnobiety. “Although there are tremendous hurdles to overlap, the kids at WAFFLES N CREAM are trying to shape skate culture in Nigeria and create a space for themselves to fulfill their vision of building the country’s first skate park, store and community for skaters.”

We caught up with Nwosu briefly to talk about how she connected with WAFFLES N CREAM, her experience spending time with them and her creative process. Check out the photos and interview below.

Antoinette Isama for OkayAfrica: How did you find WAFFLES N CREAM?

Amarachi Nwosu: I was initially inspired to do this project after I saw some really amazing images of Uganda’s skate culture by Lance Gross. I grew up skating with friends in middle school so I have always been pretty fascinated with the culture surrounding skate.

After seeing those images I was curious if Nigeria had their own skate collective. I started doing research and found WAFFLES N CREAM and was really interested in learning more about their brand and initiatives. I got in touch with co-founder Jomi and we went from there.

What was it like spending time with the crew and shooting them?

Spending time with WAFFLES N CREAM was amazing. They all had really vibrant and good energy surrounding them. Although I was a complete outsider in their crew, they treated me with nothing but love.

It’s amazing because all members of WAFFLES N CREAM have their own vision and passion but somehow are able to come together as a collective and really bounce ideas and build from one another. Although they are all skaters, some shoot, some design, manage and some model. It really opened my eyes to the growing creative scene in Lagos and inspired me. I definitely would hang with them again whenever I’m back in the city.

[oka-gallery]

What was your process when you were capturing your images—what aesthetic were you going for?

Honestly, when I do documentary style photography I choose not to direct or try and force anything in order to keep it organic. For this shoot I really just let them do their thing and be themselves. They took me to all the locations so I had no pre notion of what I would capture. I feel like when you create an environment that is comfortable and open for the subject, it produces some amazing images.

Aesthetically, I love all the colors and vibrant tones in Nigeria. Being in any tropical climate versus what I experience in New York for example is very different. I really wanted to bring that out in the images and take the viewer in a different space and pallet than what they may be used to. Just being in Nigeria and having an eye for storytelling really opens doors for any visual artist. It challenges your pre notions of what “beauty” is and makes you really see beauty in the small things.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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