Sep 21, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

SA’s first black free dive instructor turns tide on apartheid history

Five young people from the Langa township in Cape Town squeeze into wetsuits for a snorkeling lesson with South Africa’s first black diving trainer – and turn the tide of the decades of apartheid, when water sports were reserved for wealthy whites.

Zandile The Ndlovu Black Mermaid Foundation aims to bring the sea closer to the country’s black youth, millions of whom live in impoverished slums, where beach trips are a luxury and swimming skills are in short supply.

< p> To sit around Ndlovu, 33, As the first black – and black female – freediving instructor in SA, the children learn, among other things, how to bite into the snorkel mouthpiece while breathing face down in the water.

The The foundation was established in 2020 and is currently paying for the tuition, but is looking for donors to ensure its longevity.

“The water space has not always been diverse, and I wanted to create a space in which a diverse representation in the ocean is possible, ”she said. Ndlovu quit her own consulting firm, which she ran for five years after working in the corporate services industry.

“My joy is the moment one of the kids says, ‘Oh look, that’s a fish ‘oh look, it’s a starfish’ because it means they have overcome the fear of actually looking below the surface, ”added Ndlovu. She spoke after a lesson in which students entered shallow water behind a swim ring in the calm but icy Atlantic Ocean off Long Beach in Cape Town.

Before the first democratic vote of the SA in 1994, the rule of the white minority finished, a Countless apartheid laws legalized racial segregation in all facets of life. Public spaces such as toilets and beaches were reserved for whites only.

“I’m happy and enjoyed it,” said Somila Tise, a 12-year-old sixth grade student from Langa, as she shivered out of the way the water.

When Ndlovu snorkeled while on vacation in Bali in 2016, he fell in love with the sea. The following year she quickly received her diving license. Last year she received an instructor certificate for “free diving” without equipment.