“Leave” is a video by the German windsurfer Jens Meurer from Germany and features a few world class riders like Steven van Broeckhoven (B-72), Jules Denel (FRA-41) and Jonas Handekyn. He not only visited South Africa to spend a nice windsurfing holiday, but also to work for a non profit organisation called “Amandla“. “I went there to support AMANDLA a non profit organisation which is tackling social inequality through the innovative fusion of education and football in the townships Khayelitsha & Gugulethu/Manenberg, hence the scenes from the football pitch being build and the night league tournament,” Jens says. “Besides emphasising the beauty & diversity of the Cape Town the video shows radical wave & freestyle moves from some professionals I filmed occasionally as well as a couple of scenes from myself and some friends of mine.”
The way how Jens and his girlfriend Reka spent their time in the “Rainbow Nation” of Africa is a great example how to combine a windsurfing trip with a charitable activity. We hooked up with Jens for an interview to get an inside view about his trip and the work for Amandla.
Camera: Jens meurer & friends
Cut/edit: Reka Müller & Jens Meurer
INTERVIEW WITH JENS MEURER
Continentseven: For how long did you stay in Cape Town?
Jens Meurer: I was down there for 3 months from January till the end of March together with a friend, who was also supporting a non-profit organization.
Continentseven: How did your your typical day look like? At which spots did you windsurf?
Jens Meurer: A typical day was me heading out to construction site of the football field in Gugulethu to check on the progress in the morning, then drive back into town to work in the AMANDLA office. In the afternoon I would check with the Swiss crew, Andrin, Andi, Stefan, Menzi and Marc, where the conditions are best and head out there (trying to avoid the mad traffic) for a long windsurfing session until sunset. We mainly sailed at the usual suspects, Melkbos, Sunset Beach & Big Bay, but we also scored a few good sessions in Paternoster, Whitsands and down at the Cape.
Continentseven: How was it to travel to South Africa not only for touristic purpose, but also to support and work for the Amandla Edu Football project?
Jens Meurer: It was definitely different. Many AMANDLA employees are South Africans, who live or lived in the townships we worked in. So rather than living in the usual tourist bubble you are confronted directly with the massive inequality and social problems of South Africa. At the same time it was great, especially working for a project that really changes lives, seeing the positive impact of the work and realizing how much can be done is a great motivation. But it also leaves you with a strange feeling, working with children that live in “shacks” and play football with a coke can, and a couple of hours later go “windsurfing” on equipment which is, as harsh as it sounds, worth a few times their families income.
Continentseven: Do you think, football in South Africa has the same value for the kids as windsurfing for the European winter escapers?
Jens Meurer: The Football World Cup 2010 has had a huge impact so football is very big down there. This is also how AMANDLA started, they realized if you have a football you suddenly have the attention of the kids…
Continentseven: What motivated you to produce the video “Leave”?
Jens Meurer: Reka, my girlfriend, is a passionate photographer and we started to make short clips about our trips a couple of years ago. It’s a great memory and also great fun to give our friends a few of impressions from our adventures.
Continentseven: How dangerous is it in South Africa? Are there any rules existing everyone should accept, when traveling to South Africa for the first time?
Jens Meurer: That’s tricky. I felt safe, but obviously you hear a lot of things. I think the worst it is not for tourists, but for the people living in the townships. I went to townships on a daily basis sometimes also at night but only knowing exactly where to go and only in parts where I had been before with locals. I don’t know about certain rules, use your common sense, be friendly, avoid certain places…
Continentseven: Leave sounds a bit like good-bye, but it is not?
Jens Meurer: We will definitely be back, probably already this winter! The name is intended to reflect two positive meanings of the word: “I took a leave” of work to “leave” for an adventure.
Continentseven: Are the windsurfer, kiters and other water sports people, who travel to South Africa, making a positive contribution towards the development of the country or are they just living in a protected parallel existence?
Jens Meurer: I don’t know, despite having spent some time on the topic and down there, I wouldn’t claim that I understand the situation entirely. In general I can encourage every windsurfer to look behind the scenes of the place they are visiting. In terms of their impact I hope that a part of the money we windsurfers bring tickles down to the people that need it the most and if we pair this with an open attitude and being friendly we hopefully don’t make it worse.
Continentseven: Do you plan to work again for the same or other projects in Cape Town and would you recommend it to other people, too?
Jens Meurer: I hope so. It was an amazing and rewarding experience and it would be great to do similar things in the future. I would definitely encourage people to support organizations be it financially or “hands on”. The latter obviously depends a bit on your skills.
If you want to know more about AMANDLA, please have a look on their website here!