Met up with Sechaba outside HOMEGRWN skate shop at Westdene round about 11:30am. The dude was late! He was meant to open the store at 10am. When he came through, the first thing he said to me was, “Sorry for being late just got a speeding ticket!”
It was freezing outside. He boiled water and made rooibos tea with biscuits. The tea he made me was sweet as if I made it myself. “How much sugar did you put in here,” I ask. He looks at me, “Is it too sweet?” No, I responded. “I put in four spoons of sugar,” he said and we shared a laugh.
After the tea we took a seat in the store. Sechaba is the brainchild behind the Soweto Skate Society (SSS) which is an NGO or a social vehicle that aims to teach youngsters life skills through skating. They work in various projects that are youth based that not only seek to turn skating into a sport that can be taken seriously in Soweto but also to bring positive change in young people’s lives.
I proceeded to ask him about where he was born. “I was born in Soweto. Three months after my birth, we moved to Lesotho to stay with my grandmother. A year later we moved back to Soweto, Pimville. I have been staying there ever since.”
Sechaba was 14 years old when he started skating, now he’s 24. “I am proud of myself for that,” he said, laughing like he was having flashbacks of when he started skating.
Skating can be dangerous and not many parents would see it as a “real job”. How did Sechaba convince them that he could make a career out of skating? “By bringing stuff I won at skating competitions. But they weren’t sure yet that I could make a career out of it. When I got the Nike SB deal that’s when things became serious.” I asked him if the Nike deal was still on. “No, the Nike deal is off. I buy my own shoes but it’s funny that I still buy Nikes though because growing up in the hood, I have always wanted to own my pair of kicks. Now I do [have many pairs]!”
This year, Sechaba did a commercial with Nokia Project Come Closer where he got to go to Lesotho and skate within the mountain roads and experience his roots.
I was curious – what inspired him to apply to Nokia’s Project Come Closer? “MONEY!!!” We both laughed after that response. He continued to say, “Yoh! I’m kidding, Neo, that wasn’t it. I wrote to Nokia because I saw a commercial they did whereby they helped this one young woman to reconnect with her family. It got me thinking: since I haven’t been home to Lesotho maybe they could help me out. So they did and that trip to Lesotho was awesome. Yoh, Neo I hope you won’t write that money bit down brah. Write something about going back home to Lesotho and experiencing my roots.” Obviously, I wrote everything Sechaba told me.
At some point Sechaba dropped out of varsity. I asked him what his parents had to say about him dropping out. “It was not a big deal because we had a financial setback. I studied for six months doing PR, marketing and video editing. Don’t get me wrong, homey, at school I was passing well.”
Would he consider going back to school and finishing where he left off? “Yeah! I would but I don’t think that’s possible at the moment. I don’t have as much time as I had back then. I have more work here at the store. That 6 months of studying was enough for me. I had already gathered the skills required to start my own business,” he paused. “Let me rephrase that – start my own skate society. But I’m still learning, my man. I think if I had stayed in school, I would be doing far more greater things.”
His goal is to revolutionise skating. “As long as I haven’t seen every kid in Soweto on a skateboard, it feels like I haven’t done anything. I want black kids to dominate this sport because it’s seen as a white sport.”
We know Sechaba through his hustle and I wanted him to explain in detail what he was currently working on.
“Lately, I’ve been concentrating on skating exhibitions and food porn.” Food porn! I blasted out. What the hell is that? “We take pictures of food that literally makes you hungry and makes you go out and get it. I’m working with a group of photographers on that project. Oh and we trying to get a skate mag started.”
It’s been long since #SSS trended on Twitter. Where are they? “Ah man, Soweto Skate Society is taking a year break as that was the mission statement; the aim was to work hard for three years then take a chill break, so that people can ask about us.”
After spending almost half the day chatting to Sechaba, it was time for me to head out and get back to the office, but before leaving, he invited me to join him and his crew on a skate session.
So I met the SSS guys on Sunday morning at Thokoza Park after the burial of one of their parents. They did a couple tricks just to get their mind of things and they de-stressed by playing a game of skates. One person does a trick and the other has to try and do the exact same move. After a couple of moments, I could see it in their eyes that it had been a long day.
I asked Sechaba one last question. Are there any massive upcoming projects that will make people turn heads and say, “Wow, Sechaba has done it again”?
“I want to open a shop in Soweto, a shop that sells skate-related stuff to make skating more accessible for the upcoming generation of Sowetans.”
Sechaba is definitely an inspiration to many and through his hustle he has managed to build a brand that is aspirational to many as well.