Zandile Ndlovu, founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation is set on breaking barriers and bring change to communities. Photo: Jacki Bruniquel
Zandile Ndlovu, founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation is set on breaking barriers and bring change to communities. Photo: Jacki Bruniquel

Zandile Ndlovu, SA’s first black freediving instructor, is bringing about change in the diving world

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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Cape Town – South Africa’s first black freediving instructor, is set on changing the narrative of diving in the country.

Zandile Ndlovu, 33, is originally from Soweto and the founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation is set in bringing about change in the diving world and exposing children to the beauty of the ocean.

Ndlovu moved to Cape Town earlier this year, after the beauty of the water and kelp forests captivated her.

Her foundation was established in 2020, and through this she hosts regular talks at local schools, podcasts and snorkel excursions for pupils.

Ndlovu’s journey in her love for the wonders of the ocean began in 2016 after a trip to Bali.

Zandile Ndlovu is SA's first Black freediving instructor who aims to bring diversity to the diving world. Photo: Jacki Bruniquel

“I was going through a really hard time. I called a travel agency, I said I had this amount and needed to go away for two weeks.

“They gave me Bali. It was my first-ever snorkelling experience. At first, I felt like I was drowning but then my mind was blown. I just remember being in awe. That was one of three snorkelling trips we had,” Ndlovu told IOL.

She said that moment was indescribable and she immediately found a sense of belonging she never felt before.

Ndlovu then went scuba diving, seeking the same experience she had. She then saw girls on Instagram swimming along the ocean floor without oxygen tanks.

“I saw it and thought, what sorcery was this? I did some research and found out it was free diving. I found an instructor and once I did it, I got that feeling I had in 2016 and knew I had to share this experience,” she said.

Ndlovu takes different children between the ages of 10 to 18 years old on excursions at least twice a month if she is not travelling.

Zandile Ndlovu, founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation with pupils from Langa on their snorkelling excursion. Photo: Zandile Ndlovu

Speaking on the misconception that everyone in Cape Town has been to the beach, Ndlovu said: “Everyone assumes proximity equates to access. That is not true. The question I ask is how do we make this experience accessible and how do we expand ourselves.

“So, I decided instead of going through schools I wanted to work through the community.

“I want this to belong to the community. If the community is involved everyone gets involved.”

Ndlovu has partnered with the Langa community office where they have a schedule of children in different streets who attend excursions. In this way, all children are exposed and have the equal opportunity of learning how to snorkel.

The Black Mermaid Foundation is self funded and Ndlovu hopes to get sponsors and investors on board.

“I am always looking for partnerships and there is a need for sponsors and funding as it will help to make these excursions more regular and bring room for growth.

“This will also assist in educating our youth on how we can save our oceans and how we can be better,” she added.

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IOL

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