Fi­nal wave for surf leg­end

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OBITUARIES - LUKE FOLB

AHMED Col­lier, lo­cal surf leg­end and pi­o­neer of non-racial surf­ing in South Africa, died on Novem­ber 3 after suc­cumb­ing to can­cer. He was 74.

Col­lier was at the fore­front of an era of re­sis­tance and fre­quently went to whites-only beaches to swim and surf, which of­ten lead to him be­ing ar­rested.

Born in Dur­ban in 1943, he moved to Cape Town when he was 18 and mar­ried his wife of 50 years, Fawzia, at age 25.

“He loved the ocean and his mo­tor­bike and he also taught him­self to play the piano when he was 15 years old,” said Fawzia this week.

Col­lier was an early mem­ber of the Wyn­berg Surf Club and later opened the Col­lier Swim School.

The fam­ily were avid swim­mers and his chil­dren would of­ten join him for surf and swim­ming ses­sions, said his daugh­ter Doll.

“He was a very hands-on fa­ther and he would fetch us from school with surf­boards strapped to the car. The chil­dren were all West­ern Prov­ince swim­mers and my younger brother also went on to be­come an ac­com­plished surfer. My fa­ther ex­posed us to the world,” she said.

In the 1960s, Col­lier joined the South Africa Surf­ing Union, a non­ra­cial surf­ing group that al­lowed any­one to par­tic­i­pate in surf­ing on the Wild Coast and KwaZulu-Natal coast­lines.

Two days after his son, Cassiem, was born, Col­lier trav­elled to

Hawaii in 1971, where he was hosted by Hawai­ian surf­ing cham­pion Ed­die Aikau. He trav­elled there to stop the South African surf­ing team from tak­ing part in a com­pe­ti­tion be­cause the team had said there were no black surfers in the coun­try, which he saw as a ma­jor in­jus­tice in the surf­ing com­mu­nity.

Cassiem said his fa­ther had fought for a more di­verse surf­ing com­mu­nity and be­lieved in the power of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether over the di­vi­sive­ness of the apartheid regime.

“He was spe­cial in a way be­cause of the era he grew up in. He was not par­tial and wanted more di­ver­sity. He loved to surf and swim and kept fit all the time. He was pas­sion­ate about be­ing out­doors and he liked to go swim­ming ev­ery Sun­day at the pav­il­ion pools in Strand,” he said.

While Col­lier never had the chance to surf com­pet­i­tively he took part in out­door ac­tiv­i­ties right up un­til his death.

“He en­joyed spend­ing time with his fam­ily and his grand­chil­dren. It was beau­ti­ful to spend the last few days with him and you could feel he was mov­ing into the next phase of his life,” said Cassiem.

In the film Tak­ing Back the Waves there is archival footage of Col­lier cheer­ing on his son dur­ing a surf­ing event in Aus­tralia. In March, Col­lier re­ceived the hon­our of be­ing in­ducted into the Surfers’ Cir­cle Walk of Fame in Muizen­berg.

To­day a memo­rial will be held out­side African Soul Surfers in Muizen­berg at 11am be­fore a pad­dle out at 1.30pm.

Col­lier is sur­vived by his widow, his three chil­dren Is­mail, Doll and Cassiem, as well as his grand­chil­dren.


Surf­ing pi­o­neer Ahmed Col­lier en­joyed rid­ing his mo­tor­bike al­most as much as swim­ming and surf­ing.

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