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Inspiring Girls to Take to the Waves in Dakar

Photojournalist Zohra Bensemra brings you Khadjou Sambe, Senegal’s first female professional surfer, trains near her home in the district of Ngor – the westernmost point of the African continent. Sambe went to California in 2018 to train with Black Girls Surf (BGS), founded by her coach Rhonda Harper. BGS started looking for female surfers in Africa because of the lack of representation in professional surfing. ‘When I am in the water I feel something extraordinary, something special in my heart,’ Sambe says. The surfer is now inspiring the next generation to defy cultural norms and take to the waves. Sambe trains beginners at Black Girls Surf (BGS), a training school for girls and women who want to compete in professional surfing. She encourages her students to develop the physical and mental strength to ride waves and break the mould in a society which generally expects them to stay at home, cook, clean, and marry young. Sambe is a proud Lebou – an ethnic group that traditionally lives by the sea. Growing up in the coastal capital of Dakar, Sambe never saw a black woman surfing the Atlantic swells.