At the Skate Gal Club meet-ups, sisterhood reigns. Sometimes coming from hours away to be there, the girls don’t always know each other, but they bond over a mutual interest in skating, and the shared experience of growing up female in a patriarchal society. They cook and talk for hours, and play music too, dancing and singing together. “It’s like a big woman party,” Alongside skateboarding, the club offers them a chance to do activities like yoga and poetry writing too, and each time they meet, a different theme is chosen.
The first edition was all about arts and crafts, and the next one was a green theme, so the members got their hands dirty in gardening classes. They learn things, make things and talk at the same time. It’s pure catharsis. Some of the youngest girls who attend the meet ups are just six years old and they come with their mums. What’s powerful about that is that it’s legacy building, because they will grow up seeing this as a completely normalised way of women communicating and spending time.
Even as a non-native, being a woman in Ghana hasn’t come without its challenges for Alibo (Surf Ghana) either, especially in the world of entrepreneurism. When meeting officials, for instance, she has struggled to be seen and accepted as the person in charge, and in fact, when she first launched Surf Ghana she didn’t even mention she was a woman in correspondence in case it put her on the back foot “As girls, we have often woken up in the morning with an idea of how to behave, and being told we must stay silent and listen,”
Due to the pandemic, a lot of the Skate Gal Club’s bigger scale activities have ground to a halt for the time being, but the girls have been meeting up and skating together anyway. “There is no competition among them, because they tell me they need so much more than that,” Alibo says. “They tell me they need friends, a sorority, love and support, someone to talk to, and they get all of that in each other.”
“As women, I feel very strongly that we need to have a safe space for ourselves,” she adds. “I want gender equality of course, but I also like the idea that we can have confidential conversations that stay just between us women. We really need a space to be able to share our problems, because we do have a lot of them.
” The women discuss everything from anxiety and depression to gender-based violence and generational issues, and they find ways to support each other. Alibo tells one story of the group rallying around a girl who urgently needed a place to stay, putting her up in their homes without hesitation.
“These girls don’t dream of going to parties, they want to be proud of something, and part of something. They just want to be here, together, to do something cool, you know?” How amazing it is that this project she started can facilitate that for them.