‘We need to eradicate the stigma around skating’

Forming friendships is a given as Siyabonga and Jacob help each other along.

Front-siding, nosegrinding and kickflipping are just some of the terms used to describe an elaborate number of tricks skateboard enthusiasts execute at the historic Drill Hall, situated next to the Noord Street taxi rank in Johannesburg’s city centre.

The skatepark – in a hall that is perhaps better known for its association with the treason trial in which 156 anti-apartheid activists (Nelson Mandela among them) were charged with high treason – prides itself on being genuinely young and cosmopolitan.

According to one of its founding members, Kabelo Chiloane, it’s the only skatepark in Joburg’s metropolis; a fact he deems, “Shocking for a city like Johannesburg…”

Children as young as three can, however, be seen trying a hand at zipping across the course and attempting, what is for children their age, daring stunts.

“The inner city is made up of people from all around the continent and so, the solutions that are supposed to be addressing the community should be bigger than just our borders,” Chiloane cited, expanding on the skatepark’s significance in challenging social issues.

“We are talking to kids who come from [various African countries] and so have to ensure that the drive is continental, in order to break social barriers and promote social cohesion.”

The bustling cauldron of activity observed at the skatepark culminates in a number of carefree, adrenaline-seeking juvenile excitement junkies, scraping away across the tarmac and serving up an array of aerial stunts. One five-year-old, Siyabonga Mazibuko, made it known to City Buzz that he’s been skating since the age of three.

His mother, Bongiwe Mazibuko expanded. “My mother [his grandmother] had bought him a bicycle, scooter and children’s skateboard and we soon discovered that he liked the skateboard the most,” she explained proudly, adding that Siyabonga rapidly outgrew his excitement for the child-friendly board and instead opted for a more advanced one.

An even younger pint-sized prodigy is Siyabonga Maseola (3), who made his ‘little’ presence felt in the bustling park.

Chiloane believes the impact of the recreational skating activities made available at the Drill Hall to even the youngest of the enthusiasts – who possess the same drive and tenacity as their older counterparts – is far-reaching. He said, “When these kids go back to their communities, they somewhat play a role in fueling the eradication of the racial stigma around skateboarding as it’s still a taboo for some of our people.”

Read: Skateistan is back in the swing of things

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