How does one articulate the etchings of a movement? A gritty union of spirit, authenticity, and culture is slipping its way into the streets of Nigeria, quite gracefully. There they were, waiting in the golden heat of the sun. We were greeted by a thunder of energy from the crew. They had been skating for hours. Empty water bottles decorated the ground, local vendors sold puff puff, there was a Coldstone ice cream cart (random, I know). It was a block party at Freedom Park, a location formerly used as a prison.
"We had formed the first ever WAFFLESNCREAM crew in Leeds, north of London. It was comprised of like... five guys; four skateboarders and one BMX-er. On top of that we had a camera guy and one videographer. So we captured some shots that we went to London for. We had nowhere to stay so we had to called a couple of people and asked if six dudes with skateboards could crash at their place.
When I moved back to Nigeria, I was scared because I didn’t think anyone skated. I had never met a skateboarder here. I think we posted something saying that we’re in Lagos or here to stay or something like that. Some kind of energy or word went out. All of the sudden, like literally every two weeks we get a message like ‘Hi my name is thingy, I have a skateboard. can I skate with you?’and we’re like ‘Yes, bro! Lets skate this week!"
Skateboard wheels hit the pavement and the sound of its glide remained. The sun would not let up. Still the crowd grew thicker, the music got louder, and the skaters continued to pour in. Children walked by beaming at the guys on their boards. Some of the crew, being just teenagers themselves, grabbed some kids and showed them the ropes. It was like watching a flower bloom.
"We don’t care if you’re twelve. If you skate and you’re a cool dude then we’ll mess with you...We got in trouble with this dudes dad who was so confused why these older boys were friends with his 14yo child. He thought we were trying to sell him drugs. I had to give down my CV to make sure the guy was cool."
WAFFLESNCREAM began as a small clothing brand that gained some traction several years ago. The clothes were an introductory pursuit for the crew to set flame to the scene in Lagos and begin to organize a subculture.
"The only way we could get people to mess around with this thing was to have a brand that could speak for everyone. So we’ve been having popup shops to get people to know about the culture, not just the sport, but the friendship.
The first pop up we did in 2012, it was supposed to be four hours long but everything sold in 2 hours...just selling t-shirts”
The movement in Nigeria mirrors that of older uncompromising former skate crews in their inception. The fearless and freethinking minds of each skater prove to be so pivotal in the makeup of their fervor. Even while sporting their staple WNC shirts, they look like individuals. No one is the same. Within WAFFLESNCREAM, there is a rapper, a teenage shoe designer, a DJ, a photographer, a graphic designer… members of all ages and backgrounds. But isn’t that the beauty of skate culture? It’s more about the amalgamation of spirit, not the boards themselves; the grit, the angst, the longing to be free.
"I think skateboarders are the ultimate rebels because there are no rules. It’s like art in motion. You can create new tricks. You can skate in whatever style. You can be fat, you can be skinny, you can be tall, you can be short. There is no criteria. You don’t have to be fit. You can be a videographer, a photographer, you can own a shop, you can build boards, you can make tees, you can make wheels… anything! It’s freeform. The ultimate human experience."
As we moved through the blocked off street, a band of young instrumentalists showed up. They beat their drums and blew their horns all the way up to where we stood. The scene was now most definitely a party. Everyone danced and sang. “God Lives in Lagos!” Chalk markings were filling the streets. It was freedom in Freedom Park.
"Just for a cultural reference, because you know it’s Africa so we have bare culture here… you know culture from the past, we look to Supreme because those are the guys who really put culture into skateboarding. Because like I said, skateboarding is freeform. But those guys embedded New York culture in their brand, from the art to the clothes… everything. I love that."
As a youth living in Africa, many of the older generations look to being doctors and lawyers as a means to a promising future. But for the future of the WAFFLESNCREAM brothers, what does that look like? A space in Lagos; the WAFFLESNCREAM Skate Shop, a hub for young unconventional Africans to find one another and gain access to skateboards.
"Look out for our shop. That will be like our community center because that is the problem we are having right now. We skate, skate, skate, but we want to chill, drink, kickback, we’ll probably even watch a skate video or film. Most of our dudes are creative dudes so they’ll probably have things they want to show the world, they can show through us.
We’re just like everyone else. Just like every city has skyscrapers, we have skyscrapers, we have supermarkets, we have school. We’re not in huts, we don’t have fly’s coming out of our eyes. The misconception that everybody is starving in Africa, is a lie. We’re not any different. We have skateable areas and we can make things happen."
They carry Africa on their backs as they soar.