Boris in Togo

Photos: Boris Proust

Interview: Benjamin Deberdt

You might have been surprised to see a couple French skaters exploring the streets of Lomé, recently… Well, this might show you are not so familiar with the trip instigator biography. This is what he had to tell us about this “going back home” of sorts…

Can you remind us the ties you have with Togo, for those who wouldn't know?
Well, I was born there. My dad had this idea of crossing the Sahara back then, and ended up there, with no real plan. He liked it, and ended up setting up a business, a club, first, then an hotel/bar/restaurant, “Le Galion”. If you ever go there, it still stands unchanged. I lived there till I was 4, but then, my parents had to go back to France, because of some “events”, but then went back later. So I lived there again, for about 5, 6 years, till I was 16. This is when we arrived in Montpellier, and when my studying went down the drain, while I started to only skate… [laughter]

What give you the itch to go back to Togo for this project?
I have always wanted to get back to film something, maybe a personal project, not necessarily with skating in it., more of a lifestyle project. Then Guillaume Le Goff contacted me about doing a video with the new Nokia phone. I liked the idea, and thought that it could be it. Plus, nobody had ever really skated there. I remember that at the Lycée Français, we were the five only skaters of Lomé. And there was never other ones, since, I believe…

How did you pick up your two traveling partners?
I picked tow guys I like, above all. I really wanted Lionel Dominoni to tag along, since we started skating together other there! That would have been meaningful, but we just couldn't organize it. I would have loved Joseph Biais to come, also, but the budget was getting too heavy for a trip to a place we were not sure of having any spot at all!

Were Max and Flo into it right away? How did they handle the culture choc?
Yep, they were up for it! They checked out so many things on the net, before going, that they more or less expected what they got to see, in the end. Still, they were a bit puzzled at first. I remember getting a message from Flo, saying “looks like there are only dirt roads in all of Togo!”, but, no, it was cool. We eat pasta and pizza only for the whole week to be sure to not get sick and spoil three days of skating. And we were covered in mosquito repellent, as malaria is quite severe over there.

Explain Lomé to someone that has never set foot in Africa…
It can be great, it can be a pain, also… It isn't the most picturesque destination, either, but the landscapes are worth it. And you better not stay in the capitol, that's noisy, and where everybody drive like a maniac, while klaxons replace any sort of driving rules. Anyway, it'll be an experience to learn from!

Tell us more about the trip. Did you travel in the country at all?
We stayed in Lomé, apart from one day where we headed North to the countryside, but we ended up with a broken down car. We spent four hours in a garage, where we got all those people to skate in this dirt back alley. That put a smile back on our face! We would have love to get North to see the lions and elephants, but no time…

Has the country changed a lot since your last time there?
It hasn't changed much, I found. There a just a lot more of good roads, but apart from that I didn't see much difference.

Do you see yourself live in Togo, again? Or in Africa, more generally?
No, I don't picture myself living there. Unless I had a business doing really good there, and I had to take care of it. Then, why not? Apart from that, I don't think so… Not even somewhere else in Africa, maybe more in Asia, maybe… But, then again, you never know where life will take you. Everywhere can be good.

What about skating, what's going on, for you?
Oh, god, not much! [laughter] Cliché and DVS are still hooking me up. I thank them for that! I try to skate as much as I can, but in between filming and editing jobs, I don't have much time. I'd like to film another little part, but nobody films in Montpellier. That's sad. Or, at least, nobody seems up to do a little homie video. I'd like one, or more, kid to get motivated, and maybe take over the next Mofo' productions! [laughter]

Back to the roots, with Maxine Géronzi and Flo Mirtain, as guests #shotwithlumia :

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