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The Train Surfers of Soweto, South Africa

Train Surfing

Don’t talk to these kids about extreme sports


For kids growing up in Soweto, an inner city of Johannesberg, pursuits like rock climbing or bunjee jumping are out of their budgets. Instead they make do getting kicks by surfing the trains.

Hopping in and out of the carriages along the platforms, leaning out from the pole, and surfing the tops of the trains and ducking the power cables, train surfing never looked more dangerous.

This is a video best watched with the sound turned down as the Star News presenter is a bit miserable and wants to present this as a lamentable form of escapism. Sure, no one would want to be the parent of one of these youths risking their lives, but train surfing represents an inventive and daring spirit all of its own.

If they had more opportunities would they jeopordise their safety like this?

Maybe.

But young men have always taken great risks, that’s why armies always snap them up to channel their recklessness for their own ends. These kids at least get to live a little.