THE SENEGALESE QUEEN OF WAVES
Journeying around Africa, Anna came across the inspirational Senegalese surf girl Khardiata. This is her story.
In the labyrinth of narrow sandy alleys, the pungent scent of fish blended with the fascinating singing from the Mosque. The kids surrounded by goats and chickens played with glass marbles while most of the men took their Persian carpets and washed their faces, hands and feet to perform Wudu, the preparations to pray.
Khardiata Sambe lives in Ngor, a fishermen’s village in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. She has been surrounded by water since she was born, but being a woman in the Ngor community means staying on land while men helm the Senegalese fishing boats, pirogues heading out to sea. Old traditions hold strong in the tightly populated village, so the fixed gender roles divide the tasks of commune living. Men fish and women sell the catch after taking care of the kids, cooking and cleaning the house. Khardiata, known as Khadjou between friends, chose a different path; which wasn’t so simple at all.
Khadjou started surfing at her early 20s with her cousin Astou, when they followed their brothers and uncles into the water. She had easy access to the ocean, as her family’s house stands just in front of the waves breaking next to the little island of Ngor. This wave, Ngor Right, has played an important role in the history of surf in Senegal, since it was ridden for the first time in 1966, by Mike and Robert in the iconic film, The Endless Summer. Khadjou was hooked by the power and speed of the water, and soon learned to ride the waves with the support of her uncle Pape Samba Ndiaye.
The excitement and the passion glow from her eyes when she talks about surfing: “It is simply the
words and illustrations by ANNA ANUNDI photos by GIOVANNI ASTORINO Khadjou riding the Ngor right with fearless style.