Zandile Ndhlovu Calls Herself the ‘Black Mermaid,’ and She’s Helping South Africans Fall in Love With the Ocean

For most of her youth, Zandile Ndhlovu was afraid of the ocean, but a wondrous snorkeling experience started a love affair with the sea. As she then progressed into becoming a diving instructor, she noticed that very few other black people were enjoying the experience. In an effort to get more black people into the water, she started the Black Mermaid Foundation. Through her foundation, Ndhlovu organizes ocean exploration programs for Black children across the country — many of whom have never seen the ocean. On any given weekend, Ndhlovu can be seen bringing groups of Black children to Windmill Beach in Cape Town to learn how to swim, watch penguins play, and discover the African Sea Forest — a vast underwater ecosystem. While Ndhlovu is focusing on South Africa’s ocean waters for now, she has her sights set even bigger. “I want to see more diverse and inclusive ocean spaces,” she says. “(But) I want to see them everywhere. That’s my heart’s work and more than just the ocean space — everywhere.”


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