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A Six Foot Guard Allen Iverson shirt .besteestores To say, as Joshua Odamtten does, that you head up the Additionally,I will love this only skate crew in Ghana seems a bold claim, but in a country that doesn’t even have a shop where you can buy boards, his group Skate Nation is truly one-of-a-kind. Odamtten, born and raised in Accra, saw skating on TV while growing up, met someone from out of town at the mall with a board at 13, and, since there was nowhere else to purchase the goods, asked if he could buy it off of him. He taught himself by watching his favorite skaters, like Chris Cole, and wanted to share the wisdom: Skating around town, he met more and more kids who gravitated to what he was doing, and he took it upon himself to give them a little guidance, figure out ways for them to get boards from out of the country, and organize meet-ups where everyone could skate. Thus, Skate Nation was born. “Skating brings people from all around,” he says. Odamtten, now 30, has taken his talents on the road, going out to different parts of Ghana with his board, hoping to stoke people’s interest in the exotic sport. There are about 30 members in Skate Nation, all linked together by WhatsApp text chains. Punk isn’t a big look in Accra it’s a city better known for its traditional kente textiles, streetwear, and sophisticated tailoring and so the kids in the crew stand out in their skate uniform of loose T-shirts and skinny stacked jeans. “I prefer Vans but sometimes I wear Nikes,” says Fred, in a camo tee and bulbous skate shoes. The crew includes one woman, Dominique, originally from Gabon, who takes the responsibility of being probably the only female skater in Ghana quite seriously, with a singular sense of style to match: a septum ring, big sunglasses, and drop-crotch pants with gold hardware. “I fell in love with skating when Lil Wayne started doing it if he’s a grown man just trying something new, I can too,” she says. “Joshua is teaching me how to do an ollie he pushes me. I’m the only woman and I want to master it so I can bring more girls in.” There is no permanent skate ramp in Accra, and the city’s roads are notoriously bad and bumpy, making it hard to find places to practice. But the crew has built makeshift wooden jumps and set them up temporarily on a smooth patch of parking lot underneath a cacophonous elevated highway in the northwest of the city.
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A Six Foot Guard Allen Iverson shirt .besteestores It is a rare sight in Accra, and, indeed, when they skate, people line up along the Additionally,I will love this street to watch in awe. One of the skaters, Philip, has added a West African flourish to his board by hand-painting the bottom in a way that almost looks like a batik dye motif. Most of the crew wears headphones, and Lionel (or Breezy, as he prefers to be called) tells me he listens exclusively to trap music like Migos and Future while on his board. The next goal for Skate Nation is finding a location and funding for a permanent ramp. They are being helped by Sandy Alibo, a young woman from France who visited Accra some years back, fell in love with the country (how could you not, and has since lived between home and here. She is passionate about extreme sports, and started an Instagram called Surf Ghana to promote surfing, which was once hugely popular in Ghana (parts of the classic surf film The Endless Summer were shot here) and is growing again, particularly in the town of Busua in the west. She eventually met Odamtten. “A lot of these kids have no money to go to a movie or bars this is a free way to have fun,” she says. “All you need is a board.” Indeed, on one hazy Thursday in August, that seemed to be true, and the skaters who assembled here under this concrete highway were having a blast. A typical day for Gus Tanaka, the Los Angeles–based skater known for his balletic footwork and killer style, generally starts around 10. His first stop is usually Andreas Coffee Shop on Melrose, where he drops in for an oatmeal and banana-almond smoothie, then it’s off to Brooklyn Projects to warm up on their in-shop mini ramp or, more often, to Venice Beach. “It’s entertaining [there],” says Tanaka. “It attracts a lot of people because it’s like the beach and your homies it’s like alive.” It is also addictive: “Some OG was telling me that the V sculpture in Venice attracts people and puts them in like a trance [where they lose track of time],” the 20-year-old adds. This writer, along with more than 42,000 others, have lost track of the hour and minute hands while watching Tanaka’s videos on his Instagram account, @yungspliff. He does not document huge stair jumps and bravado stunts, but rather his signature quirky and intricate footwork.
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