Set against the backdrop of Kenya’s urban scapes, The Intro is Kenya’s first full -length, 100% Kenyan made skateboarding documentary shot entirely on a smartphone. The project is the brainchild of David ‘Ngis’ Mwangi, an animator by profession and skateboarder. The Intro takes an often misconceived as white sport and gives it a uniquely local identity by telling the stories of the young men and women who find a sense of joy, community and belonging from skateboarding.
“Whenever you see a skater skating down the street you never get to ask yourself what type of person they are. There’s alot of misconceptions about us. Some people think its white. Its not. Its something for everyone. When everyone got to share their subjective experience I think this came out clear,” says Ngis.
The result of this year long production, shot in different locations in Nairobi and Nakuru, is an amalgam of identities – both collective and individual, a pulsing visual map of Kenya’s skateboarders, who at some point, as he narrates, have had to overcome different hurdles, some conventional to growing up, some not so much. From homelessness to saving up to move out of their childhood homes, to varied degrees of isolation within the skateboarding community itself. Despite the odds, they kept the passion alive.
Ngis bootstrapped the project from his own finances, and shot every weekend for a year. At different points in the production, he suffered breakdowns due to the sheer scope of work before him. However, it was important for the community to record their histories on their own terms. Previous attempts at telling their stories came from outside the community and were driven by a selfish need to ‘blow up and become something big’ “They were telling our stories wrong, they came into our spaces without knowing what was going on. I wanted to fix that and be done with it,” says Ngis.
The Intro had its first screening at the Creatives Garage on Saturday 8th June 2019. There are plans to hold more public screening in future but as Ngis tells me, the most important thing was that the skaters got to watch it first.