Editor’s Note: Welcome to the fourth installment of our INSPIRED Series, presented by Cobian’s Every Step Matters (ESM) initiative. This series looks at compelling moments, people, and places that inspire athletes to do what they do, that in turn inspire us. Learn how, by choosing Cobian footwear, you can make a positive impact and enrich the lives of others at Every Step Matters.
Ntando Msibi is a grom’s grom. His eyes get wide and his smile is visible from space when he talks about surfing. And when the kid came into our offices for an interview he crushed not one but two Red Bulls back to back. (No joke!) But unlike other 19-year-olds, Ntando’s accumulated enough real world experience to fill three lifetimes.
Ntando comes from Durban, South Africa. And at nine years old, after the tragic death of his mother, he found himself trying to survive on the streets.
“Street children,” as they’re called, in South Africa and elsewhere often resort to criminal activity in order to survive. Drug habits are also par for the course when living on the streets.
In this case, Ntando’s story is no different. When he first got involved with Surfers Not Street Children, a South African non-profit launched by Tom Hewitt to get kids off the streets through surfing, Ntando was in a bad place. He was sniffing glue, and at one point was hit by a car. He miraculously came out unscathed.
Over time through Tom and Surfers Not Street Children, Ntando began surfing more and more and spending less and less time on the streets. As Tom puts it, Ntando became so enamored with surfing and would be in the water so much that by the end of the day he’d literally be too exhausted to return to old habits.
Now, Ntando’s on the up and up assessing qualification chances and inspiring others through his story. And even if things don’t pan out in surf, Ntando’s got a plan b in his back pocket.
“I’m also really into music,” he told me. “It started with open mic nights, and everybody was just excited to see a young kid come and turn up.” Beyond becoming a rapper himself, Ntando’s got an idea he’s sitting on to launch a series of spontaneous music festivals he calls “Turn Up.” It’s in its nascent stages at this point, but the bottom line is Ntando’s pie-in-the-sky idealism comes from the heart. He knows he can go bigger and further because, hell, he’s already done it. Nothing can stop him now.
Video shot and edited by Jordyn Romero