Tony Hawk meets "fearless" Zulu skateboarders

Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:02am EDT
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By Marius Bosch

VALLEY OF A THOUSAND HILLS, South Africa Aug 11 (Reuters Life!) - Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk found fearless Zulu skaters and a modern skate park in a remote South Africa valley where cellphones do not work and goats roam dusty dirt roads.

Hawk travelled to the Indigo skate camp in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, an impoverished rural area in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, to meet young "AmaZulu" skaters who took to the ramps with enthusiasm.

"These guys are unspoiled by the media. They are fearless," Hawk said as skateboarders -- some as young as six -- performed daunting tricks on a ramp overlooking traditional Zulu homesteads set on rolling hills.

KwaZulu-Natal is the traditional home of South African President Jacob Zuma's Zulu tribe but poverty and unemployment are rife in many rural areas.

The camp is the brainchild of South African professional skateboarder Dallas Oberholzer who wanted to bring the city sport of skateboarding to the countryside.

"Whites and tourists had never shown an interest... Nothing ever comes down to them there, one or two Zuma T-shirts or one or two charities. It was a forgotten community," he said.

Since the camp was started eight years ago, scores of rural youngsters have become skateboarders and many city children have attended the camps, learning new skateboarding tricks in a unique cultural environment.

"It is one of the most amazing skateboard sites I have ever been to. The experience of seeing these young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is something that will stay with me forever," Hawk said.   Continued...

<p>Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk performs at the valley of a thousand hills in Kwazulu-Natal, August 8, 2009. REUTERS/Marius Bosch</p>