We’ve got to know Afri Amu quite well over the past few years. The ever-modest and humble shredder became the first ISA competitor to represent Afghanistan and also championed a strike mission to his home country, in search of a powerful river wave in the mountainous region of the landlocked Middle-Eastern state.
Since then, the political situation in Afghanistan has gone through dramatic change, and while Afri has built an idyllic life surfing and living with his family in the Atlantic islands of the Azores, he still feels connected and empowered to raise awareness and promote positive change for those living in his home country.
Area Guide: Azores
“It just kind of happened, the way I approached life,” says Afri of his journey so far.
“I’ve never really looked back on my life like a story of the past or possibilities of the future, I just try to really be present and experience what is happening right now and not think about the past or the future.
“With this in mind, mainly what I am trying to do right now is use my platform to talk about my home country. Afghanistan since August 2021 has kind of been forgotten about in the international community and obviously the situation is really, really bad.
“Hopefully with representing the country during the ISA competitions for example I can use that stage to talk about the people and their needs and if I can help in any way that’s something I would love to do. This is the main reason why I am happy to represent the country.
“Of course there are so many things happening across the world right now and I think that’s maybe something to do with why it has been forgotten about but the more people that care about what is happening in Afghanistan, the more good that will come to the people because the situation is terrible and there is a lot of suffering.
“It was 2018 when we travelled there for the first surf expedition, a different time. We actually planned to do some more trips with more technical gear, but since the political change, it wasn’t possible to do so.”
I think the very first time I came to the Azores I felt a special connection to the place. The nature and the people.
Prior to the surf expedition, Afri had spent time living in Moscow when he was young, followed by a move to Germany and travelling the world for a year. After all of that, he has found a sense of belonging with his new life on the main island of the Azores, Sao Miguel.
“Yeah, I was never really too attached to that word — 'home' and that construct. Being a political refugee and moving from one place to the next all my life I never really had that feeling of home.
“This place is the first time I can consider calling somewhere home. I realise it on many different occasions, particularly when travelling.
"When I used to travel, I was always enjoying it so much and had sad feelings of going back to where ever I was located but it’s different here. I still like to travel but even more so like to come back. I feel like this is a sign of feeling like home for me.
“I think the very first time I came to the Azores I felt a special connection to the place. The nature and the people.
“It can be a challenging place to surf. In the summer it’s kind of like everywhere else with not many waves and then in winter there is plenty of swell — these islands get hit by swell before anywhere else in Western Europe or Africa.
“You definitely have to be in shape for it. It’s a lot of currents, wild and raw, wind is always a thing — but if you manage to deal with all those challenges you can score some unique and memorable sessions."
Afri started surfing about 15 years ago, but even in that time there was a period where surfing became a negative aspect of his life, due to it becoming in his words — “an addiction.”
“A lot of relationships and things that should be of importance I kind of neglected so I could go surfing, especially when I wasn’t really located next to ocean and had to travel for it.
“Recently, that relationship with surfing has changed. I’m more at peace with it and it’s not like a pressure to go surf but rather I do it simply for the enjoyment. It’s calming me, making me happy. Last year had a lot of challenges with injuries and I couldn’t surf for a couple months at one point.
“I had an eye problem where at one point I wasn’t sure if I was able to surf ever again and even now I’ve lost quite a lot of my eye sight.
“I wasn’t so aware of it when I wasn’t able to surf but once I started again I realised how much positive energy it gives me. All the worries and doubts just washed away with just being in the water and looking to the horizon for the next wave so it’s an important aspect to my everyday life.”
"I used to live in Germany, studied law and was a Constitutional Lawyer and development aid worker. I was working a lot in an urban surrounding and I needed compensation for that.
“Not being in nature and not being in balance pushes me into extremes of not so healthy desires, whereas now that I’m here it calms me down.
“Being in raw, beautiful nature, even now when it is raining outside — I’m enjoying it. Surfing is the next step of experiencing nature because you are surrounded by it.
“Of course having consistent surfs makes me happier but it’s also what comes along with it, being exposed to nature has the greatest effect on my life.”
You can help with the Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, HERE.
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