New skatepark in Ghana honours the late Virgil Abloh

The designer was a strong supporter of the youth initiative before his death in November

Ghana’s first skatepark has opened, paying tribute to the late Virgil Abloh, who was involved in the project before his death in November. Freedom Skatepark stands as a poignant reminder of the myriad ways Abloh worked to support and uplift others.

“Virgil was here” is emblazoned across one of the park’s walls, alongside the names of other people who contributed to the launch of Accra’s Freedom Skatepark.

Abloh, the first black man to head up a major fashion brand, was of Ghanaian descent and paid tribute to those roots over the course of his career. Earlier this year, he incorporated kente, a traditional fabric worn in Ghana, into one of his menswear shows for Louis Vuitton.

His Off-White clothing brand is one of the sponsors of the new skate park, which was established in partnership with Surf Ghana, a local collective seeking to empower youth through sports.

Sandy Alibo, founder of Surf Ghana and Freedom Skatepark. AFP

Sandy Alibo, founder of Surf Ghana, says that skating is a lesser-known sport in Ghana, but believes that a space like Freedom Skatepark can contribute in boosting tourism and creating networking opportunities for young Ghanaians. "We're not talking only about sports, but we're talking building self-confidence in the youth, about tourism and developing youth entrepreneurship.

"They connect and share ideas. Skateboarders make the city alive because they entertain people and that is what Ghana needs."

On the park’s opening day, organisers paid tribute to Abloh with musical performances by local artists and skate sessions by both professionals and amateurs.

Alibo shared a post on the Surf Ghana Instagram page explaining how Abloh contacted her after reading about the initiative in Vogue. “Virgil read the story and he got in contact with us simply saying, ‘I would love to support the movement you started'. And that is exactly what he has done for the past four years, from amplifying our story, to connecting us with sponsors, to designing merchandise that allowed us to fund our skatepark. Even down to designing our logo: Freedom.”

Alibo continued with a touching tribute to Abloh: “Freedom Skatepark is your legacy in Ghana. A place where everyone can come and feel your spirit. To continue in the path you have set for us and know that you are still looking, still supporting, still smiling. Virgil is here.”

Updated: December 17th 2021, 7:35 AM