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Skating with Gandhi ... and Tutu too

From Errol Barnett, CNN
updated 6:05 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
The faces of both Mahatma Gandhi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have graced the longboards built by South African Kent Lingeveldt. The faces of both Mahatma Gandhi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have graced the longboards built by South African Kent Lingeveldt.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Longboard maker Kent Lingeveldt has used faces of Mandela, Gandhi, on his boards
  • He's set up Alpha Longboards, a Cape Town-brand producing personalized boards
  • Lingeveldt is also an award-winning photographer

Each week, Inside Africa highlights the diversity of the continent through the prism of different cultures and the mediums of art, music, travel and literature. Follow the team on Twitter.

Cape Town, South Africa (CNN) -- Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi. They're names you might associate with protest and peace ... less so skateboarding.

But the faces of all three can be found gracing the boards created by South African Kent Lingeveldt.

The boards are part of the "Local Legends" series produced by Lingeveldt from his Cape Town workshop -- with Gandhi included alongside Mandela and Tutu because of the years he spent in South Africa campaigning for the rights of its Indian population.

And Lingeveldt says that when he presented the Tutu board to the man whose face adorns it, the Nobel Peace Laureate was so taken with the gift that he decided to hang it inside his office.

Bringing boards to life

Lingeveldt specializes in making longboards -- a lengthier variant of the traditional skateboard. Completely self taught, he has gained fame for bringing customized decks to life. As founder of Cape Town-based brand Alpha Longboards, he's equipped scores of local and international riders with distinctive personalized boards.

A longboard tour of Cape Town
South Africa's skateboard art
Longboard riders move into District Six

Working together with local illustrators, who decorate the boards with their eye-catching artwork, Lingeveldt prides himself on customization. No two boards are the same, as each creation is tailored to the specific needs of each client -- taking into account everything from their height and shoe size to their skating ability and personal goals.

Read this: Artists take epic Africa road trip

"I can't make a board for someone I don't know," he says from inside his small workshop in Woodstock. "I want clients to come to me and then I actually customize something right for you. I don't want you to walk out of a shop with an Alpha Longboard and be like, 'oh, this isn't what I need.'"

'Shedding new light'

But Lingeveldt has also found success through his other great passion, photography.

"First and foremost I would imagine myself to be a street photographer," says Lingeveldt, who first started experimenting with taking pictures when he was 18. "I look for stories in movements and people's reactions and responses and just how we all work together."

Read this: Hollywood classics get photographic remake

Always carrying his camera with him wherever he went, Lingeveldt decided a few years ago to begin shooting images professionally. Since then, his striking street images have been shown in exhibitions both at home and abroad.

One of Kent Lingeveldt's images
Kent Lingeveldt

"I won the Market Photo Workshop's Social Landscapes Contest last year, and I was like, wow, look at this," he says. "You know, someone who didn't have any training to win probably the most prestigious photo school in the country, which is cool."

Skating with ease between longboarding and photography, Lingeveldt is making the best of the two worlds.

"When I skateboard I see the world differently," he says. "Like you see the small finer details of the streets, of the city and I'm like, 'wow.' I see so many different things that other people don't necessarily see," adds Lingeveldt.

"I'm looking for the small things that we see every day, but shedding new light on it so that people can almost look at it differently."

Teo Kermeliotis contributed to this report.

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