Tony Hawk lets it flow
In late January of this year, a group of skateboarders, spearheaded by Nyjah Huston, embarked on a trip to Ethiopia. Only this "skate trip" was not about collecting skate footage or exploring new street spots. Huston, joined by skateboarders Tony Hawk, Aaron "Jaws" Homoki, Matt Berger and Derrick Wilson, traveled to Ethiopia to fix broken wells outside of the city of Addis, bringing fresh water to thousands of residents in the area, and to support Magabi Skate, Ethiopia's first skatepark project. Essentially, they came to Ethiopia as skateboarding ambassadors, and after giving back to the local communities, they left Africa with a renewed perspective on life and the love of skateboarding.
Later this year, the trip will be featured on an episode of the "World of X Games," but this week, XGames.com presents an inside look at the trip, beginning with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.
XGames.com: Was this your first trip to Africa?
Hawk: No, I've been to Ethiopia once before, South Africa a few times and Sierra Leone before this trip.
How would you summarize the trip?
Enlightening, surprising and way different than any other "skate" trip I've been on.
Let It Flow Foundation Ethiopia 2015 trip
In late January, the "World of X Games" brought a select group of skateboarders to Ethiopia to rebuild wells in support of Nyjah Huston's Let It Flow Foundation. Together with Nyjah's mother Kelle, Let It Flow aims to bring flowing, safe water and sanitation to people in need. Not only did the trip to Ethiopia involve well repair, it provided training to the locals to learn to maintain their wells. Here's an inside look at the trip to Africa, featuring Nyjah Huston, Tony Hawk, Aaron "Jaws" Homoki and more. The full show, Being Volume 2, airs at 2 p.m. ET July 11 on ABC.
Normally, skate trips are focused on skating and getting footage, but that wasn't the case in Africa. What made this different from a normal skate trip?
We were also on a charity mission with Let It Flow to help fix broken water wells in rural villages, and to support Megabi Skate (Ethiopia's first skate project.) The only other time I was in Ethiopia was on behalf of an organization that helps to build water wells, but I didn't do any skating on that trip.
Can you describe the work you did for Nyjah's charity and what it meant to you?
We helped to fix two broken wells outside of Addis that were a source of life to many villages in the area. It was some of the most rewarding work I've ever done -- truly making a positive difference in other's lives.
Nyjah is a young skater doing pretty big things in regards to water conservation. What is your perspective on Nyjah's efforts outside of skateboarding?
It's great to see him giving back in a way that is close to his family's heart, and not just having a charity for "PR" purposes.
What made this trip a life-changing experience for you?
Meeting the people that will benefit from having a clean water source and seeing the appreciation they have for our efforts. I also liked seeing how the locals embraced skateboarding when they saw it for the first time. There were no negative perceptions; just excited faces and plenty of support. And to help provide Ethiopia's first halfpipe was something I'll never forget.
Can you describe the skate spots you happened upon in Africa, and what made them either unique or un-skateable?
There were many spots that would normally be off-limits because of their proximity to foot/car traffic. We would find a spot, then talk to a security guard or building owner. The next thing we knew, cars were being moved in order to clear landing zones.
How would you describe the skate scene in Africa?
Small, but slowly building thanks to the efforts of Izzy and Megabi Skate.
Was there anything you never thought you'd do in Africa?
I never imagined going to Africa as a kid, so everything I did there was a surprise.
What was the most unusual thing you happened upon in Africa?
Cops with AK-47s clearing paths so you can skate whatever area they are guarding.