Songs Of Experience: Innocent Sichande Interview

Written by Niall Neeson

One of the raddest stories of the World Skateboarding Tour has to be that of Skateboarding Zambia, an easy fellowship which includes the fine young man that is Innocent Sichande.

The sharp-dressing 25-year-old is part of a team which includes YAD prospect Mukuka Chande, both of whom entered our two UAE stops along the Tour.

Intrigued by their energy and skill level coming into the contest as unknowns, we promised to follow up with Innocent in order to find out more about their skate scene back in Lusaka, Turkish tailoring- and how he expects to see a Zambian on the WST podium within his lifetime.

Ladies and gentlemen: Innocent Sichande!

Innocent Sichand front board WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Anthony Acosta 23

Hi, Innocent- can you introduce yourself for us?

My name is Innocent Sichande, a skateboarder and businessman from Lusaka, Zambia. I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been skateboarding for about…twelve years, now.

We first met your Zambian crew at WST Sharjah, back in January 2023- tell us a bit about the background to that event for you guys?

The background to making it to the Skateboarding World Championships in Sharjah 2023… was a rollercoaster! After I became the number 1 ranked skateboarder in Zambia, the Skate Association of Zambia announced that we would try and send three Zambian athletes to the World Championships in Sharjah- and possibly the government would cover all the expenses. This news was extremely exciting… meeting all our favourite professionals, skating with people from all over the world, and representing Zambia on the world stage of skateboarding was a thrilling thought. We had a lot of back-and-forth regarding the possibility of us making it to the event, but we were all in great shape and trying to get as much practice as possible. Our flight was booked on the day before the trip needed to happen, and we got the visas miraculously five hours before heading to the airport. I remember telling Mukuka (Chande) “I'll breathe when we are finally on the plane”, ‘cause I had been very anxious about whether it would work out or not.

Once we were on the plane it was like the start of a dream, ‘cause it only got better and better from there. It was such a nice series of experiences- arriving in Dubai, meeting the professionals, skating the courses, practicing, competing and then watching the finals. It was an amazing experience; and that pushed us to get back home and try our best to get better.

How is the skate scene in Lusaka?

The skate scene in Lusaka is quite good, we have guys that skate very competitively and a couple of casual cruisers- but, overall, you can feel the love for skateboarding amongst the skaters. Our biggest joy as a community is that all the skateboarders try and help each other with skateboards and sharing things… and just looking out for one another; our biggest problem is that there isn't a good facility in Lusaka for the skaters to enjoy, and become versatile. Availability is also an issue- the average skateboard deck costs $30- $80, and the average salary most skateboarders are able to get being between $32- $80 per month. The average Zambian’ssalary is between $160 and $240. Skateboards are considered expensive for the majority, and this means most people eventually give it up, ‘cause its hard to afford… or they don't have any time anymore, as they are working a lot.

Innocent Sichande 5 0 WST Street WCH OQS Dubai Anthony Acosta 6

Can you tell us a little bit about Selako?

Selako Entertainment is a company I founded with my love for skateboarding and my belief in the importance of recreational activities and their availability to youth. Selako is a company that hires skateboarders, rollerbladers, and other sports and recreational specialists to teach their craft to children, teens, and young adults in schools, or at our new skating rink space. Growing is our number one agenda- to reach more people, and get them into recreational activities that help them learn one or two important lessons about life- and help them challenge themselves. For me, starting skateboarding was so life-changing because most of my character attributes, were developed from the lessons learned as a skateboarder- like the importance of repetition, resilience, persistence, discipline, and the struggles that come with improving.

These lessons apply to life, and make me a happy person even in the face of difficulties ‘cause they are a direct result of the process of figuring things out.This is why Selako exists, and why we believe we can share the good spirit of recreational activities.

How can people find out more about skateboarding in Zambia?

Just log into Instagram and follow ‘@Skateboardingzambia’, as well as ‘@weskatemongu’ and ‘@Skateboardingsolwezi’!

So you came 153rd in WST Sharjah and then 103rd in WST Dubai a year later- a jump of 50 places. You must be quite pleased with that rate of progress?

To be honest, I don't feel pleased with the rate of progress; there was a time when I had more fire in my heart, I was consistently doing kickflip back lip, kickflip front board, cab back lip, and many tricks which I see the best skaters doing, in lines at our local skate spot. I feel like I never got the chance to step up to do these things on bigger spots and get really good at doing them on bigger spots because of our skatepark situation in Lusaka. That plays its role in me feeling unimpressed with my performance, because deep down I know I can do so much better. I'm not one to give up, and so I’m currently taking some time to work on my body and get stronger to make my performance at the next event so much better.

Unfortunately, there's only so much that can be done without actually training on bigger facilities… I guess this is the reason that I'm extremely interested in fundraising for our first public skatepark of a good standard. It's mostly an opportunity for the next generation of skateboarders- it excites me to know that this could be what gives future Zambian skateboarders the chance to make it to the finals, and potentially win medals one day.

How was WST Dubai for you this time around as an overall experience?

My experience was truly lovely, I enjoyed every single day of being at the event- speaking with my favorite professionals, skating with them, and watching such a high level of skateboarding happen. It was a real dream to be there. I loved to meet new people and bond with them over common interests, skateboarding being the biggest one of them. After the event we went to Sharjah and did some skating there. Being in Dubai was also really nice, I enjoyed the city very much- the ease of moving around, and the safety of the city really made me enjoy everything that much more.

innocent Suit up

Ph: Suit Up Zambia

You look good in a suit, which not every skateboarder can: what’s your deal with Suit Up Zambia?

Thank you very much- Suit Up Zambia is a men's Turkish luxury suits retailer in Zambia; I was presented with the opportunity to do some modelling for them, as they thought I would look good in their suits. After a few pictures and video shoots, I joined the brand as an ambassador of the nice luxury Turkish men's suits they have. I liked the look of elegance and style on me -and being a part of the visual representatives of Suit Up was a no-brainer, because I love what they are trying to create with the brand- an everyday look of elegance for every occasion.

If I gave you a microphone right now, what would you want to say to the audience reading your interview wherever they are around the world right now?

I would like to ask everyone to help us share the Skateboarding Zambia page and help us get a bigger audience. Our crowdfunding efforts haven't been the most successful in the past- but not many people know we exist, either- so it would be great if we could get some shares as we start to create better content as well to show the world.. I believe that if we get a good park built, in our lifetimes you will see a Zambian skateboarder podium at the World Skateboarding Championships.

This is a story which will inspire millions of youths, not just in Zambia but in a lot of other countries- that one person’s dream can turn into opportunities for other people to achieve theirs. A big part of my dream is to help skateboarding in Zambia grow, and create the path for the next generation of skateboarders to have a future in the culture and the sport.