Interview with Loufou Rasolofonirina
‘It got noticed by The Berrics, and they ended up sending over a GoPro and a hard drive for a video project about Malagasy skateboarding scene that we filmed for several months with it, and sent back the hard drive with all the footage…we never heard about the project again since then.’
Tell us something about Madagascar people do not know about?
Madagascar have young talented people into robotics and are winning a lot of awards internationally. And we got one of the tastiest Beer too! THB. Three Horses Beer.
Who is the most talented skateboarder in Madagascar at the moment?
Actually, more skaters local say it’s me (laughing). But I think more skater in my country have same level like me…we have Rado Kely, Lanja.
And who is killing it outside Madagascar?
I think Rinah Rindra,Rolin Ran and Tsiky Imanoela…they have a good level and hype flow. They inspire me too.
I came across your ‘sponsor me’ clip on Youtube dating back 2012. Great skateboarding Lofo! Did anything come up for you after the release?
It got noticed by The Berrics, and they ended up sending over a GoPro and a hard drive for a video project about Malagasy skateboarding scene that we filmed for several months with it, and sent back the hard drive with all the footage back to them… But unfortunately it never came out on their website and we never heard about the project again since then…
That is a real shame. At least you could keep the GoPro. When did the skateboard scene in Madagascar start?
Skateboard scene in Madagascar started early 2000`s in downtown Antananarivo, most of the guys back then knew about skateboarding because of Tony Hawk Pro Skater game which came out in 1999, so they build their own spot and mimic tricks they saw in the game and the videos in it.
Madagascar was all around the news in 2015. You had the Red Bull Skate Team visiting you. French photographer also stopped by that year wrote about his experience with the local skate crew in the Leica Camera blog. What happened with all the publicity? Has the skate community grown since then?
Skateboarding became more mainstream in the country and we are now more accepted everywhere, from the streets to the media and event maker. And it did boost the skate community so much that we have local skate scenes popping up in every major city that skateboard can roll in all Madagascar. International side, project were planned by associations and groups but unfortunately got cut because of various event happening in Madagascar like the Plague in 2018 and now the pandemic, foreigners thinks safety first!
Is there a skate shop or do you buy it online?
Now, there is a “all around Action sports” shop called “Gorisa Gorisa” that is the main dealer of skateboards based on Antananarivo but is sending boards all over Madagascar. And there is also a guy who provide “Follow” boards from France selling it mostly online and also with help of a shop. If not local dudes do sell second hands boards between them and those who can get it online like everywhere but that last choice do cost more. We are used to get boards from Europe as we are a French speaking country, but now it shifted to China as it is cheaper.
‘So a complete (deck) would be U$400.’
How expensive is a brand new deck in US Dollars?
So a complete would be U$400… as the dealer include shipping and taxes in the price.
USD400? This is crazy! It makes sense that from the footage I have seen from the RedBull trip the boards you are using are like refurbished to the last sheet of plywood. Do you also rely on donations?
I always try to have fresh boards but I have to rely on donation also from time to time as boards are really expensive. Having any free board would extend our skateboarding days. There are a lot who stop skateboarding just because they can’t afford a board.
I came across an organization called ‘boardstomada’ where they collect skateboard and surfboard donations for Madagascar. Are they still actively involved?
They are from Reunion island and is our neighbor. So that help a lot on the connection. But pandemic happens! They were planning to came to Madagascar just a month before the government closed boarders and all the lockdown drama. And until now traveling is still restricted.
Are there any local/national skateboard brands?
There is no board brands until now because everyone who tried to manufacture locally didn’t reach the quality required…But recently the shop “Gorisa Gorisa” made their “Shop Boards” and there is a project still on the study phase but is trying to make “Malagasy skateboards”. But there is clothing brands that is focused on skateboard like “Ariar Skateboards ”. A brand of a former skateboarder.
‘ There are a lot who stop skateboarding just because they can’t afford a board.’
Where are the main skate spots in Madagascar? Skateparks and street spots?
For Antananarivo : the main spot used to be a parking lot of a school in Antanimena, which is behind a public garden, it is mainly flatgrounds and slappies there but it’s the spot that there would be at least a skater everyday… till the pandemic again when police got there and kicked out the skaters for not respecting the health measure/lockdown… but skaters always come back there for some reason, just waiting for things cooling down and then reclaim the territory again, something that has already happen in the past. Downtown Antananarivo Areas got most of the streets spots especially on sundays as every business are closed on that day. And we recently lost Ambohibao “Ghetto” spot , a ruin of a house which has smooth ground and became the hotspot for a moment, the spot we are gathering when police goes wild and when skatepark are closed… or doing Go Skateboarding events in the middle of the lockdown drama. The main skatepark is not far of the Parking lot of Antanimena and is a big one so everyone is heading there for park session, but there is also the O.G skatepark of Marais Masay that has been rebuild recently and it’s still a fun one to go despite of the size of it not bigger than a tennis court. And cities like Antsirabe, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina or Mahajanga have their own respective spots and fun to cruise around.
When was the first skatepark built? Who initiated it?
The first skatepark was built in 2008, the Maraisa Masay one, and was a part of a project between Antananarivo’s Mayor of that time and “Iles-de france” region from France, which build various playgrounds and sports court all around Antananarivo, and it was the only skatepark in that whole project, And the second one is still an extension of the same project but they sold it to a private entities after that.
For any tourists that want to skate in Madagascar, what is the best place to meet local skaters?
Going to Antanimena is the best place for Antananarivo, getting to the Skatepark first, then going down at the parking lot. In Antsirabe they are at the “Railway station” most of the time if not at the street next to “Alliance Francaise”, two spots pretty close too.
What are some of the local customs a foreign skater needs to be aware of before potentially grinding down significant cultural buildings?
There is security guards and maybe police or any law order form around it most of the time, but with talks, foreigner have more chance of skating a spot with their permission, especially if filming something “for the TV” or media purpose.
‘As it is pretty far away of the localization of the “Core SkateWorld“, getting boards is already quite a challenge…then all the buzz from 2015 did introduce people to skate culture but it is still into figuring how it really works out.’
What are some of the challenges skateboarding faces in Madagascar today?
As it is pretty far away of the localization of the “Core Skate World“, getting boards is already quite a challenge…then all the buzz from 2015 did introduce people to skate culture but it is still into figuring how it really works out. We still not have any chance to make skateboarding our main job so it is still the passionate that shakes things up for the love of the game.
What are some of the challenges people in Madagascar face every day?
The local money, Ariary, is so low on the International level that everything is so expensive for us. As we do live from mostly from importing. So this is why life is very “money driven“ because most of the people are surviving literally, trying to earn enough to eat for the day, or to live a comfortable life.
Last question. If you could interview a person, who would it be and why? What would you ask?
I would interview Nyjah Huston because I always wanted to know how he feels now? A champion of the world…and I would ask what was his motivation to get that target.