“Mami Wata” is west African pidgin English for “Mama Water” or “Mother Ocean”, and the name of a Cape Town-based surf brand started by Nick and Tilly Dutton. This week, the global brand released Woza – The African surf film a mysterious in-house brand film directed by Argentinians Pato Martinez and Francisco Canton from directors’ collective Pantera. Shot across seven days in Durban, South Africa, and Ponto Do Ouro, Mozambique, the five-minute long film tells the tale of an African surfer who has been taken as a lover by the mermaid Mami Water.
“From Madagascar to Morocco, Liberia to Mozambique, Mami Wata is the legend of the African water spirit that appears in the shape of a mermaid,” Nick and Tilly explain. “It is said that those who she takes for her lovers, return with a new spirit and become more successful and good looking."
“I hear ocean, day and night, like a heartbeat,” the film’s narrative begins as we watch the protagonist 22 year-old Transkei surfer, Avuyile Ndamase make his way towards the sea. Daylight slides towards night and we dance between sleep and wakefulness as reality is replaced by dreams. The surf narrative is spliced with shots of children driving dusty rally cars, a dancing man and a shark. The camera lens lingers on the expressionless faces of characters frozen surreally as if mid-motion. “The power that we get from the seas will change you in strange ways,” the film’s subtitles warn.
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