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Yann Gross: Uganda’s Homegrown Skate Park

During a visit to Uganda, Yann Gross discovers a pack of budding skateboarders in the suburbs of Kampala.

During a vacation in Uganda in 2008, Swiss photographer Yann Gross heard rumors that a skateboarding half-pipe had been built in a suburb of Kampala. A passionate skateboarder, Gross grabbed his deck and the made the trip to Kitintale, where he met up with Jackson Mubiru, who built the skate park in a lot he inherited from his father. “Jackson led me through the slum, and at each cross street the roads got smaller. Suddenly we reached a wide open space where the park was located. It was like a fairy tale, paradise for a skateboarder. Kids, some barefoot, riding on their boards with huge smiles. At that time, there weren’t enough boards or protection guards for everybody, so they had to share everything,” recalls Gross in an interview with TIME.

What began as a several-day stopover quickly turned into several months as Gross stayed on to skate and get to know his new friends. “There was an impressive sense of belonging to the community—and not only at the skate park,” says Gross. He became so involved with the group that he has co-organized skating contests and is currently fund-raising to rebuild the ramp, which was severely damaged earlier this year because of flooding. “It’s the beginning of a skating culture in East Africa, and I’m really interested in following and supporting its evolution. I’d like to see how they grow up and what they’ll do. Things have already changed a lot these last three years. It’s only the beginning.”

To watch a video about the skate park and donate to the project, go to emphasis.com

For more details about Kitintale’s skate-park click here.

Yann Gross’s Horizonville project about a village in Switzerland obsessed with American biker culture. Is being exhibited till Sept 18th, at France’s photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles.

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