‘Boards and Bootstraps

‘Boards and Bootstraps

By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor








SAN JOSE, CA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM): “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”


It is a phrase I have heard often in my lifetime; usually out of the mouths of annoyed white people – or condescending non – white ones.


Funny, how when those ‘straps’ are pulled, some people – out of resentment or jealousy or a sheer desire to maintain a status quo, will seek to cut those straps; and anything else which would stifle progress on any level.


It happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 1, 1921 when Black Wall Street was destroyed for no other reason than Black Americans had successfully created their own financial infrastructure – and jealous whites couldn’t stand that they were prospering; guess we weren’t so ‘lazy’ after all!


Over 3,000 Black people lost their lives and over a thousand businesses were lost as the Greenwood section of Tulsa burned to the ground; in remembrance of this, the group known as The GAP Band took their name (for the main streets of Greenwood, Archer and Pine in that section of town)


I bring this up because a similar fire seems to be brewing – and I see a potential to throw some cool water on it before it spreads.


Ms. Rhonda Harper, President of Africa Surf International (ASI), has endeavored to plan and produce an event which would aid African and African Diaspora – based talent, without waiting for approval from anyone or standing in line for handouts.


After several months of laborious efforts, the Surf Sierra Leone Project will come to fruition in late October of this year. Ms. Harper, who has contributed as a columnist to the Black Athlete Sports Network (as well as the Internet radio show Soul Tree Radio – in the Raw!) has provided updates regarding the event and how it will provide a base for Sierra Leone to not only rise from the ashes of destruction, but provide hope for its people – especially its children.


Sadly, as what happens when those straps were pulled, for the aforementioned reasons are seeking to do something similar to Ms. Harper and her efforts; and the principals in this case happen to be White – and non – white…


The following are actual correspondence between ASI Director of Communications Imani Wilmot and what would seem to be rival organizations annoyed that Ms. Harper’s group has done far more than was expected by them; they are published in the order of receipt, and Ms. Harper has the final say in the exchanges:

>>> From: <imani@surfafrica.org>
>>> Date: Thursday, May 22, 2014 8:17 AM
>>> Subject: Surf Sierra Leone by Africa Surf International
>>> Greetings,
>>> I notice that you have published an article on the surf scene in Sierra Leone. I would like to draw your attention to Africa Surf International’s (ASI) event Surf Sierra Leone, an invitational surfing competition to be held at Bureh Beach, Sierra Leone later this year. I have attached a copy of ASI’s most recent press release regarding the competition, as well as a few images that you may wish to use when updating your article.
>>> If you would like to send a representative to provide media coverage for this event, please visit the ASI website (surfafrica.org) where you can find a copy of the Media/Press Information Package as well as a Media Acreditation Request Form.
>>> To find out about sponsorship opportunities, send an email to Rhonda Harper (rhonda@surfafrica.org), who will be pleased to provide you with information packages. Please let me know if you have any questions.
>>> Thank you for supporting youth surf development in Africa. I look forward to your continued support.
>>> One Love,
>>> Imani Wilmot
>>> Communications Director
>>> Africa Surf International
>>> surfafrica.org • @SurfSierraLeone


>> On 5/22/14 2:28 PM, Carlos Escaba wrote:
>>> Hi Imani,
>>> Thank you for contacting the ISA and the work you are doing to develop surfing in Sierra Leon and across Africa.
>>> I’d like to introduce and put you in contact with ISA Director General, Bob Mignogna, and ISA Africa Membership Advisor, Sean Brody, who I’m sure would be glad to connect with you on your work.
>>> Thanks and good luck with the invitational in Sierra Leone.
>>> Carlos
>>> Carlos Escaba
>>> Marketing and Media Manager | ISA
>>> Office +1 858.952.1587 | Cell +1 310.613.0959| carlosescaba@isasurf.org| http://www.isasurf.org


> On May 22, 2014 6:25 PM, Sean Brody <seanbrody@isasurf.org> wrote:
>> Hi Imani,
>> Great to meet you! As Carlos mentioned, I am the Africa Development Adviser for the International Surfing Association and I have surfing school and sustainable surf retreat in Liberia. I am very impressed with the development of this event in Sierra Leone, as I know how challenging it can be; I have hosted the Liberian National Surfing Championships the last five years and it is no easy endeavor.
>> The ISA would be thrilled to continue to support your efforts and the hard work of the Bureh Beach Surf Club. That being said, the ISA can only officially support or sanction events in nations that are registered members of the ISA. As of now, Sierra Leone has not yet completed the registration process, but that process is very simple and only includes a few simple documents. One document is a constitution that requires contact information and the second one is a document that can be used to have the ISA membership fee waived for the first two years. I am glad to send over these documents if you would like.
>> Secondly, the ISA Scholarship program deadline is at the end of the month and if we can get the Sierra Leone documents approved by the ISA Executive Committee fairly quickly we can try and get a few scholarship applications in for the young surfers from Sierra Leone. Two of my young surfers from Liberia were awarded scholarships and now they do not have to worry about school fees all the way through the graduation of high school.
>> On another note, I am a big fan of what your family has done for surfing scene in Jamaica (that is your family, correct?).
>> I looking forward to chatting more soon.
>> Happy Surfing!
>> Sincerely,
>> Sean Brody
>> Africa Development Adviser
>> International Surfing Association
>> www.isasurf.org


On 5/24/14 5:10 AM, Imani Wilmot wrote:
> Greetings Sean,
> Thanks for your kind words (and yes that is my family).
> Unfortunately, I am not in a position to accurately respond to your email as I am the ASI’s Director of Communications, and this is not my domain. I have included Rhonda Harper in CC. She will be better able to address this email.
> Have a great day.
> One Love,
> Imani Wilmot
> Communications Director
> Africa Surf International
> surfafrica.org • @SurfSierraLeone
> Merci de penser à votre environnement avant d’imprimer ce courriel.
> Thanks for considering the environment before printing this e-mail.


——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Surf Sierra Leone by Africa Surf International
From: Sean Brody <seanbrody@isasurf.org>
Date: Sat, May 24, 2014 3:04 pm
To: Imani Wilmot <imani@surfafrica.org>
Cc: Bob Mignogna <bobmignogna@isasurf.org>, Carlos Escaba
<carlosescaba@isasurf.org>, rhonda@surfafrica.org


Hi Imani,


I have met Rhonda via facebook in the past and I am trying to get
together a team from Liberia to send to the contest. Thanks for passing
along the email as we would love to talk about getting Sierra Leone
officially involved with the ISA. I have spoke with a man named Shane
O’connor as well as a few others and it would be great to keep the
conversation going as this would be great timing to join efforts to help
grow the sport of Surfing in Africa.

Hope to see you soon in Sierra Leone!

Happy Surfing,

Sean Brody
Africa Development Adviser
International Surfing Association


(Ms. Harper’s Reply):



 Thank you for your quick response. As the President of the Africa Surf International, I will respond to the emails forwarded to me below. 


Imani Wilmot, the Director of Communications, sent a standard email to the ISA Marketing & Media representative. This email was sent to many media outlets. 


This is an ASI contest. The surfers in Sierra Leone are on their own accord to sign up if they please. I was informed that the ISA forms were sent to Sierra Leone. I advised them on the advantages and disadvantages of joining the ISA. Unfortunately, there are more disadvantages than there are advantages quite frankly.


I have been covering the ISA and the ASP for 10 years as a photojournalist. I’ve been involved in surfing since 1984. Only once, in 10 years have I never witnessed Pan-Afro people in numbers except for one of your contests, Huntington Beach, CA, 2006. The current ISA African countries are represented by non-indigenous African people with the exception of Michael February, Kwezi Qika, and Ntando. I may have missed one or maybe two.


The ASI is completely indigenous African and African Diaspora. Why is that? For the same reason I get passed over as an ISA credentialed judge. ASI will showcase what the ISA and the ASP have overlooked for years, pro/am African and African Diaspora surfing talent. This is the sole reason why the ASI was born.


I am well aware of Mr. Aguirre’s plan to “collect” countries to better position the ISA for the Olympic main event, but let’s us not forget that there are “real” people involved. It is for that reason and others that the ISA are well aware of (mainly the latest Africa themed press release) that the ASI declines any assistance by the ISA. ASI will not be sanctioned by the ISA or the ASP now or at any time.


We surf together in peace and unity, not to divide and conquer. I hope this email message clears things up for you. If you would like to send a media person and a team please feel free to fill out the forms via the ASI website at surfafrica.org.



 Rhonda Harper

ASI, President/CEO


So given the spirit of said correspondence, will ASI be able to fulfill its destiny in breaking ground in the Motherland? Or will someone else, out of sheer spite and a desire to maintain a system which devalues athletes of color (as well as judges and administrators) attempt to light the fires of discord?


Always outnumbered…never outgunned.


Copyright © 2014 Michael – Louis Ingram; all rights reserved.

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