Ghana’s surfing history…

Forms of surfing were loosely documented in Africa as early as the 1830s.

Surfing had been noted by visitors along the coasts of Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

James Edward Alexander was perhaps the first to document Surfing in Ghana. It was his narrative of a voyage of observation among the Colonies of Western Africa, in the Flag-Ship Thalia in 1835. On Page 192, Alexander wrote, upon a page titled Surf Game:

From the beach, meanwhile, might be seen boys swimming into the sea, with light boards under their stomachs. They waited for a surf; and then came rolling in like a cloud on the top of it.

Fast forward to ‘The Endless Summer‘ (A Classic Surf Documentary) – 1966: It would seem that Bruce Brown’s account of surfing in Ghana, or apparent lack of it, was perhaps, dare I say, a little bit erm… ‘wrong’. 🙂

During the filming of The Endless summer it was clear to see in the footage, local youngsters in the surf having great fun using semi shaped wooden boards and random planks surfing the white water.

All evidence would suggest that the people of the West African coastline, whom have such an affiliation and clear connection with the ocean. Have been having fun surfing, by whatever means, for over 180 years.



Surfboat drawing by, Joseph Nash.

Surf Boats
Until the 1950s, the most widely-known surfboats were those of Accra and surrounding areas, Ghana. Prior to the first ports being built, most commercial cargo was landed through the surf by the very skilful local boatmen with strong arms and equally strong nerve.

The boat building traditions of several countries produced a similar basic design when faced with the same problem Passing through turbulent white-water and breaking waves and returning to shore safely. A broad stern presented to steep and breaking waves when approaching shore can result in broaching (turning sideways to the swell) or capsizing of the boat. For the main part, surf boats therefore have a pointed stern and usually a fairly marked sheer.

Mr Brights Surf School
Mr Brights Surf School alongside The West African Surf Association (WASA) feel extremely privileged to be so closely associated with the surfers of Ghana and Western Africa. The next few decades of surfing in Ghana will most certainly be much better documented than ever before!..