In 2019, the Ballito Pro invited Selema Masekela to experience a truly unique African Surf Adventure.
Action sports presenter and musician, Selema was the official event ambassador for the 2019 Ballito Pro and went from the commentating booth to an unforgettable trip in the KwaDukuza region.
He met with Dr Albertina Luthuli, the daughter of Africa's first Nobel Peace Prize winner Nkosi Albert Luthuli, at the home of her late father, which is now the Luthuli Museum.
Selema officially opened the first community swimming pool at Shaka's Head, a project undertaken by the KwaDukuza Municipality as part of its commitment to uplift local communities. The pool will be used by Ubuntu Learn to Surf and Swim Club to teach young children the essential life skill of swimming.
A two-hour drive later along the King Shaka Heritage Route, Selema arrived at the Umfolozi Big Five Game Reserve, where he was treated to true South African hospitality.
"The diversity of experiences and culture and opportunities in this region is just mind-boggling. From all the times I have spent in this country, I have learnt that South Africa will always surprise you. I always come with an open mind because the possibilities are unlimited," said Selema.
He got to spend a day with Surfers Not Street Children (SNSC), learning more about how the Durban based NGO has used surfing and mentorship to help vulnerable children, who are either living on the streets or at risk of street connectedness, to leave street life behind. SNSC fuses surfing with mentorship and psychosocial care to empower street children and successfully reintegrate them into society as self-sustaining adults.
"I surfed with 30 or 40 kids from Surfers Not Street Children that looked just like me. It was ironically at the same beach (New Pier in Durban) where I went surfing for the first time in 1991, and the cops tried to arrest me. I was escorted off the pier for committing an illegal act. To have this experience almost 30 years later as a grown up, at the very same place, and jumping off that same pier with so many kids…I was fighting back tears. It was such a joyous moment for me," said Selema.
"If this is what is happening now, I can only imagine what surfing here will be like, ten years from now. The opportunity is there to see some kids performing at a high level as athletes, possibly making the World Tour, like Michael February (Cape Town) who made surfing history last year, as the first black person to make it onto the world stage."
The 52nd edition of the world's oldest competitive surfing event, the Ballito Pro presented by O'Neill takes place from 12-19 December 2021. Watch it live on WorldSurfLeague.com