The Black Mermaid: S.Africa's first Black free dive coach

She calls herself the "Black Mermaid."

Zandile Ndlovu is South Africa's first Black free diving coach

where decades of apartheid history meant that water sports were often reserved for wealthy whites.

Ndlovu is trying the change that, by introducing the ocean to the country's Black youth.

"In becoming a freediving instructor, I knew for the first time that this passion needed expansion. The water space has not always been diverse, and I wanted to create a space where diverse representation in the ocean space is possible."

33-year-old Ndlovu first tried snorkelling on a holiday to Bali in 2016 and fell in love with the ocean.

She swiftly got her scuba diving certificate the following year.

After that she received an instructor's certificate in 'free diving', with no equipment.

In 2020, she launched the Black Mermaid Foundation.

"The Black Mermaid Foundation does work to take kids from local facing communities to come on a snorkel trip and explore the water, get past the fear and connect with the water in a way that allows us to believe that these oceans belong to us too and ultimately when we believe that we belong and when we believe that certain things belong to us then we will protect them."

And her students are taking those lessons home.

(FREE DIVING STUDENT, LINGOMSO XAMENI): "I learnt that don't be scared, learn to be brave."

(FREE DIVING STUDENT, SIYAMILA TUKANI): "Zandi teach us to swim and to know everything in the sea.

Before South Africa's first democratic vote ended white-minority rule in 1994, apartheid laws legalized racial segregation across all facets of life.

That meant that public spaces, like bathrooms and beaches, were reserved for whites only.

Ndlovu foundation currently pays for the lessons for the children, many of whom come from impoverished shanty towns.

"I want everyone to be able to experience this as early as possible and recognize that the ocean is not a place that we need to fear but a place that we could come at and enjoy and revisit the stories that we grow up with that keep us away from these oceans as well. And my joy, my joy is the moment when one of the kids say, 'Oh look it's a fish, oh look it's a starfish,' because it means that they have transcended the fear space to actually look beneath the surface."

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