Farhana Huq started surfing when she was 26. Here she is sliding in Fiji.
I love the work of Farhana Huq, founder of BrownGirlSurf.com. She’s a newcomer to the surfing world, and her enthusiasm for finding the untold stories of our culture is a beautiful gift to us all. Of her work, Farhana says:
“I decided to focus our initial search to find the first female surfers in my area of ancestry – South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), one of the least documented and unlikely places to find girl surfers. We decided to name the project Brown Girl Surf TM . We felt the name not only honored the first female surfers (who were brown girls from Polynesia and very possibly the Seychelles) but it also honored trailblazing women and girls who were making waves of change in their communities.
Brown Girl Surf TM is our platform to bring stories and projects of trailblazing female surfers from around the world to you. We hope our platform can serve to share your thoughts and ideas and foster connection and support of our surfing friends and sisters who are committed to making social, economic, environmental and political changes in their communities. ”
Here’s a recent piece from the Brown Girl Surf blog about one sincerely radical woman, Gisele Eboma. who may just be the first (female?) surfer from the Democratic Republic of Congo:
With all the tragic news I read about Congo, and with the only images coming out of the country to be of vulnerable people suffering, I wondered about something more positive and light about the country – namely, if there was surfing in Congo. I looked online and of course found some waves in Congo. And of course I couldn’t help but wonder who was actually surfing in Congo – just outsiders or native Congolese? I had asked my friend and fellow activist Kambale Musavuli of Friends of Congo if he knew of any female surfers there. Well, a few months ago he e-mails me and says he thinks he met the first Congolese female surfer, Gisele Eboma, only she lives in New York. Whether she’s one of the first is unknown but as far as I know, she’s the only Congolese woman I’ve ever met who surfs. She’s also a dancer and has a creative eye for fashion. So I followed up with her and we put together this Q&A.
Check out her interview below. Given her background in dance and the arts, it’s no wonder she was attracted to the sport of surfing, the love that binds us all. Happy reading!
A: My name is Gisele Eboma, I was born in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, where as a child I experienced a diverse range of popular and traditional dances. I moved to New York City and began dancing at Alvin Ailey Extension focusing on Modern Dance, Afro-Cuban dance, Contemporary and West African. I was soon performing with OYU ORO Afro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble.
Q: How did you get into Surfing?
A few years ago, I surfed the waves for the first time in Virginia Beach. I met a pro surfer named Caleb from San Diego. He took me for a ride in the ocean and taught me how to surf. I didn’t have my swimming suit with me so I surfed with clothes on. It was so much fun. When we got back to the shore, we all celebrated and cheered to “Gisele’s first wave”. Caleb works with a foundation called “Surfers Healing.” They take kids with autism surfing in the ocean. To see them with big smiles on their faces is the most beautiful scene ever. I never felt so alive. All my life I dreamed of surfing waves in the ocean. When little, I remembered drawing in class, a girl with wild hair standing on a surfing board. I wonder how I made good grades. My mind was always somewhere in the ocean, mountains, and forest.
A: When I went to surf for the first time in Virginia Beach, I fell in love with the sport and the surfing culture. As a dancer, I wanted to bring surf and dance together. This is how Surfing Queen was born. “As a dancer and performer, I’m always looking to grow and continue to move. Surfing brings something real and deep, the audience can strongly feel and relate to it. Surfers live at the edge and they learn to be comfortable there. I’m very much attracted to that lifestyle. Surfing brings back the little girl in me, the playful one who is always looking to explore and to be ready for the next challenge”.
Q: What’s unique about Surfing Queen?
A: Located in New York, Surfing Queen offers a range of stylish surfing clothes and accessories. Surfing Queen gives you a unique sense of African fashion.
Q: What has been your biggest achievement so far with Surfing Queen?
A: Meeting talented and creative individuals. I have also been blessed to show and sell some of my merchandize. My highlight has to be, me appearing in the youtube Surfing Queen video photo shoot done by talented Mr. Hollis King.
Q: What is your biggest challenge ?
A: Sponsorship and serious hard capital that will permit me to have a large workplace that will increase the productivity and feeling of my designs.
Q: Where can people find Surfing Queen gear ?
A: At this present moment, I’m talking to some creative and professional people to come up with a beautiful website for Surfing Queen. People can contact me on Surfing Queen’s Facebook page and see the products https//www.facebook.com/surfwiththequeen
A: I’m going to design women’s bathing suits, wet suits and jewelry. Then from there, I will be working on the men’s line called Surfing King.
Surfing Queen will not only bring the surf and dance community together but will improve the lives of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo where they are victims of an ongoing war by partnership with non-profit organization like Friends of the Congo. Customers will support this vision by purchasing Surfing Queen products.
Q: What advice would you give to other women regarding creating something from their passion?
A: Follow your passion and your dream, get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everyone else. Money can be an obstacle, but you can’t give up. There is always a way, like business grants, investments, loans… You got to have faith in your products and service. For me God is my foundation where my strength and inspiration come from. Take risks as well. Here is a quote from HelloBeleiver.com “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.”