For Kadiatu Kamara, surfing is an escape from the devastating effects of civil war and the Ebola epidemic which swept her country.
Daniel Ali and Louis Leeson’s poetic film features Kadiatu Kamara, the only female surfer in Sierra Leone, for whom surfing is an escape from the devastating effects of civil war and the Ebola epidemic which swept her country.
Kadiatu Kamara, or KK, is the only female surfer in Sierra Leone at just 19-years-old. When her father died two years ago, KK was left to face the Ebola epidemic alone, but she found escape, and hope, in the surfing community of Bureh Beach, a coastal village just south of the country’s capital of Freetown.
Daniel Ali, one of A Million Waves’ directors, found the community after speaking to a friend who had just moved to the country for work. “My friend told me about a small surf club a couple of hours away from him. After looking into Bureh Beach Surf Club, learning about the community aspects they promote and generally the good work that they are striving to achieve there, it seemed like the obvious choice for my next project,” Daniel says.
“Sierra Leone suffered on a huge scale because of the 1991–2002 civil war they experienced, and the country was only just getting back on its feet when the Ebola epidemic broke out. putting a halt to the progress the country was slowly starting to achieve,” he says. “What I particularly wanted to make a film about was how surfing could be used as a form of escapism, allowing the locals to take themselves away from the stresses and worries of everyday life, exaggerated by the legacy of civil war and Ebola.”
The result is A Million Waves, a film which portrays a resilient young woman who, with her surfboard in hand, stands strong, always ready to dive headfirst into the oncoming waves. In this way, KK is presented as a symbol of Sierra Leone’s future, rising out of its traumatic past. As she herself says, “I feel so different on the wave, like I’m the real KK.”
Find out more about A Million Waves.