Although their popularity has declined in recent years, skating rinks were venues people met to have a swell time. Although the skates themselves have evolved from the four-wheel kind to In-line skates, they remain devices to use for a good workout and stay out of trouble.
In Uganda, Jackson Mubiru and his South African buddy Shael Swart built the first skateboard ramp in Kitintale, Kampala in April 2006 using locally made bricks on land made available by Mubiru’s family. Having secured land and built a ramp, there was need for skateboards which was offered by a department store.
By June, Mubiru had met Canadian filmmaker and skateboarder Brian Lye whose appeals to associates back home resulted in several skateboards reaching Uganda. Ensuring that a skating culture is developed, Lye and other skaters relocated to Uganda from 2005 to 2007.
By September 2006, it became clear there was need for a skate-park. The park was designed by Canadians – Matthew Morgan and Brian Lye – with support from Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks.
The Kitintale community put its shoulders to the wheel offering labor while funding came from the larger Uganda as well as from global friends across UK, USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Japan and Burkina Faso.
By December 23, 2006, ‘Kintintale Skates’ had its first skating session, a proud moment for the locals who built the park with their hand without assistance from NGOs or government. It’s a space to keeps kids out of trouble and foster the development of a real sense of community.
To ensure constant supply of skateboards from foreign donors, without having to pay custom taxes, the project developed into a nationally registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Uganda Skateboard Union (USU).
Under the union’s umbrella, the youth are also taught health and sanitation issues as well as given awareness on HIV/AIDS issues.
As at July 2012 there were 52 members within the USU with 35 skateboards donated from abroad since 2010.