Once the scene of a brutal civil war, now a surfers’ paradise. The West African country of Liberia is trying hard to shake off the past and show the world a different face.
Lying on the Cape Mount peninsula and separated from the Liberian mainland by Lake Piso, the small town of Robertsport is only 80 kilometers away from the capital Monrovia.
These days it’s not only the tidal lagoon of Lake Piso that attracts Monrovians to go swimming, canoeing or waterskiing. Robersport’s new tourist attraction is the Atlantic Coast, where the waves are perfect for… surfing.
Benjamin McCrumada (26) is a local fisherman turned surfer decided to pick up a surfboard after he had seen a tourist riding the waves. “I asked him if I could borrow his board,” says McCrumada. “I fell off immediately. Only the third time I tried I managed to stay on the board for two seconds.”
McCrumada says he is a one of about ten professional surfers in Liberia now, and has taken part in surfing competitions since 2006. He regrets that he has never won a first prize, although he came in second on several occasions. He is also a surfing coach, training twenty boys and girls aged 12 to 18.
McCrumada may say he’s a professional, but surfing is not an official sport in Liberia and as such not supported by the government – something McCrumada feels is needed not only to make the sport popular, but also to promote Liberia as a surfing destination.
Promotion or no promotion, Sam Peters, an American tourist from New York, already found his way to Robersport. Laying on the beach under a clear blue sky, he says he hopes that surfing In Liberia will soon be booming, since the waves are beautiful.
McCrumada, in conclusion: “I’m optimistic that within two to three years, surfing will be a well-known sport in Liberia, which will attract tourists and help generate revenue for the country.” Which is something only a few years ago, no Liberian would have ever dreamt of.