There’s little doubt that, unlike football, basketball, or even karate, skating is yet to assume ‘local’ status as either a sport or pastime in Nigeria. Even in a city like Lagos – the country’s cultural capital – seeing individuals such as the members of Waffles and Cream stunting in the streets remains unusual – and fascinating.
The Waffles and Cream (WnC) family is slowly but surely popularising skate culture in Nigeria, to the delight of lovers of the sport. Only last year, a skate edit titled Jidebrought the eight-year-old skating and lifestyle brand to the public, and eyes have remained on them ever since.
WnC has built a community that is advancing subcultures in Lagos and Nigeria against all odds, starting with skateboards and manifesting that into impressive streetwear that portrays the skateboard lifestyle.
The crew behind the brand is driven by an appreciation and passion for skating and its associated lifestyles. It creates a unique space for skaters, graphic designers, artists, BMX riders, photographers, and other talented young Nigerians who appear ‘different’ or ‘foreign’ to the rest of society because of the interests they share. At WnC, these individuals are understood, accepted and supported.
A chat with the crew reveals that those hoping to join WnC are not necessarily expected to meet any requirements or have had formal training. Members are essentially selected based on how well they fit in with the ‘family’, and continuous practice with their new crew members is all they will need to get to their desired level of expertise.
Although to some the concept of skateboarding and its associated streetwear means that the brand is probably owned by, or partnered with, foreign sponsors, WnC proves that this does not have to be the case, and remains distinctly indigenous. Since its inception, WnC has worked primarily with Nigerian and African skaters to develop the crew and brand. While support is appreciated from people both home and abroad, the plan is to keep WnC and skating on their home continent; especially since ‘international support’ has a history of leaving most indigenous platforms or endeavours without any stakes in the end.
For now, the skate family carries out its sporting activities close to their shop in Lagos Island. They like to stay close because, in Nigerian society, there is a prevalent perception that youngsters who engage in such ‘uncommon’ sports are up to no good, meaning they tend to get in trouble with the police. It’s a problem that WnC Marketing and Promotions Manager, Bai, has attributed to ignorance and to Africa’s pre-eminent lack of exposure to the concept of skating.
“People don’t understand. Although, there is interest – be it good or bad,” Bai says.“We’re meeting more people in the skate scene around West Africa, and growing the international African [skate] tribe.”
This development is lending strength and credence to WnC’s aspirations to develop the skate scene in West Africa and beyond.