Interview with Shuaib Philander

The LAB links up with Skateboard Activist Shuaib Philander

 Shuaib Philander x Sneaker LAB

"Skateboarding provides one with multiple streams of career choices from skateboarding as a profession, film and photography, architecture, engineering, Design e.t.c. Skateboarding knows no gender, race, culture or economic value we are a as diverse and as rich as our connections with one another."

Shuaib Philander is part of the 20sk8 skateboarding collective, “a brotherhood formed through skateboarding originating from the Cape Flats Cape Town, Against Gangsterism and Drugs, Urban Street Culture 1 Movement”. Shuaib is a strong voice in the local Skateboarding community who's drawing attention to the spatial inequalities and public spaces - using skateboarding as a vehicle to empower young people and erase his City's cross-cultural divide. A good friend to the LAB, we linked-up with him to chat about growing-up in Woodstock, Twenty Skeight, skateboarding in the Olympics 

 Shuaib Philander

1. Tell us how/why you got into skateboarding?

 As a kid I played the traditional ball sports soccer, cricket, rugby e.t.c. Growing up in the Woodstock community the geographic design of the area was very transitional, so we loved riding vaantjies(wooden toy car like structure made with a crate and trolley wheels), Bicycles, rollerblades, scooters and skateboards with childhood brasse (friends). Why skateboarding stuck to me was when i was exposed to what could be done on a skateboard while watching a few skateboarders at the first skate park I'd ever seen and seeing the technicality behind the skill of it, after days, weeks, months and years practicing different tricks and increasing the level of that trick, I came to realise that no one will ever perfect the art of skateboarding. Every skater enjoys different tricks and has a different style at skateboarding -  that same concept has transcended into skateboarders lives, where by they are constantly trying to perfect themselves as human beings.

 Shuaib Philander

2. You represent the 20Sk8 collective and you've been involved in getting the public to re-think and re-look skateboarding with a fresh perspective? Tell us a little more about that mission and the beginnings of 20Sk8?

The mission and beginnings of 20sk8 aka now Twenty Skeight started when a group of friends dating back to 2003 and were placing on advance skateboard competition platforms in South Africa since 2005 was at Westridge Mitchells Plain Skate Park in 2011 saw all the number gang signs 26,27,28 sprayed on the skate park ramps wanted to use the influence and name they have built form themselves in competitive skateboarding to encourage the youth to get away from gangsterism and drugs. We do not only point fingers at gangstrism for destroying communities but also realise that gangsters are knowledgeable people and merchants are the successful businessmen but, over the years of being conditioned by colonisation and had to face years of social and economic exclusion and depression has resulted to what is seen today in the Cape Flats of Cape Town South Africa.

Skateboarding was seen as a rebellious culture, because it opposed authority (security guards, traffic officers, policemen, governments rules and regulations), but only because the skateboarding community was so big, unstructured and disorganized. Security guards removing skateboarders for vandalizing public structures, obstructing the bi-laws of the road, jumping over walls and fences on private property and seen by government to hold the same amount of economic value as a bergie (homeless person) because skateboarders did not economically empower the spaces they occupied.

Buildings with good architectural structures are a skateboarders dream and shows construction innovation, skateboarding is a form of non motorized transport which saves the ozone layer and assist one with a physical full body work out, when caught by policemen in private property we get handled as we're a group of gangsters.  

 Shuaib Philander x Sneaker LAB

3. 'Jas Boude' was a short film that touched on a lot challenges and real issues in some communities - how's skateboarding counteracting some of the things you experience in your community?

When the Apartheid Government came into power in the 1800's they did not only racially segregate human beings and moved them to designated areas but, divided the public transport sector routes e.g high ways, train lines e.t.c. so that these racial groups would not pass through one another communities. Skateboarding is our metaphorical mental vehicle it gives us which the born free generation calls Design mindset, as to always be thinking how and why things work the way they do so that we are always seeking knowledge and also going where ever it may take us not being confined into the spaces we were told to stay in.

 Shuaib Philander

4. In 2020 Skateboarding will officially be an Olympic sport - SA has a history of naturally gifted young people in the skate community. What's SA doing to ensure we're represented? Any prospects for competing?

I am currently representing the community, athletic and small business owners working with the South African Skateboard Federation to ensure that the culture of skateboarding runs it and benefits off it as a sport. I have more interest in being a South African Team Skateboard Coach.

 Shuaib Philander

5. You recently started an non-profit organisation called Edu-Skate? Can you tell more about the inspiration/motive behind starting this?

 This is a tangible service and product that 20sk8 has started providing youth with a free after schools program equipping them with life skills through skateboarding.


"When a group of skateboarders support each other to push there individual abilities, skateboarders don't only spend money on food and refreshments in the spaces they occupy but also give the spaces they occupy advertisement by showcasing it on their personal media channels. Skateboarding provides one with multiple streams of career choices from skateboarding as a profession, film and photography, architecture, engineering, Design e.t.c. Skateboarding knows no gender, race, culture or economic value we are a as diverse and as rich as our connections with one another."


6. Whats the biggest challenge currently facing skateboarding in the country?

Co-operates who have no relation to skateboarding who have realised the global growth and have plotted and schemed their way as to depict to Local Government as if they represent the South African Skateboarding community where by a handful of people will become millionaires instead of empowering small business owners in the skateboard industry to maximize the boost of the countries economy and job creation.


7. What's your favourite local spot to skate?

Voortreker Road from beginning to end has all the type of spots one would ever look for, starting off with a public skate park in Koeberg, flat rails and flats gaps in Maitland , Stairs in Kensington Mutual Station, Ledges and Handrails all the way till Belville.

 Shuaib Philander x Sneaker LAB

8. What needs to happen to make cities more accessible for skateboarding?

Skateboarding culture needs to organise themselves to collectively communicate to local municipalities and governments , and local municipalities and governments needs to understand the value, benefits and impact of skateboarding.

 Shuaib Philander x Sneaker LAB

9. What's next for Shuaib Philander?

Right now i am busy with a Game of Skeight contest Circuit called 'Rep you Wood' taking place at 12 of the 18 Skate parks in Cape Town where by we will be doing the Cape Town Skateboard Championship Contest in order to get skateboarding registered as a sport in Cape Town, we are launching our Eduskeight program in Westridge Mitchell's Plain in July and to the rest of the public skate parks there after with high hopes of being the South African Skateboard Coach by 2024.     

 Shuaib Philander x Sneaker LAB

Check out The General on Instagram and his after school Youth Development programme, Eduskeight. You can catch the short-film Jas Boude online, which unpacks the story of South Africa's spatial segregation and the role of Skateboarding in breaking down the cultural divides in Cape Town.


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