After meeting a skateboarder from Europe, 27-year-old Ugandan Jackson Mubiru set himself a mission - to build Uganda’s first skatepark. (Words and pictures by Marc Hofer)
Skateboarding may be commonplace in the United States or Europe but remains very rare in East Africa. "The first time I saw someone on a skateboard was on TV," remembers Mr Mubiru.
“At the beginning we were only four or five guys, but it is steadily growing."
Uganda lacks the widespread urban architecture that is necessary for skateboarding – the country is mostly rural and in the city most roads are potholed and do not have pavements.
So Mr Mubiru and his friends decided to build their own skatepark from scratch. “It’s the first of its kind in this part of the world. Not even Kenya has one.”
Together with his brother, a few local skateboard enthusiasts and a friend from Canada who provided technical advice, they created the park in a suburb of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
They scoured the neighbourhood for left-over bricks, bought cheap mortar and built the park literally with their own hands.
Now there are approximately 50 young Ugandans following Mr Mubiru's dream. They meet every day to practice. "We get donations from all over the world," he says.
The group is gaining acceptance in the local community, as can be seen by the ever larger crowds who show up at the annual competitions held at the skatepark.
"Our main problem is of course funding. Equipment gets broken and we need to expand the park,” says Mr Mubiru, but he has hope.
“In the end I want to promote the sport all over Uganda – in every city, in schools, and maybe even all across East Africa."
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