The hero of the criminally underseen documentary Sliding Liberia is one Alfred Lomax, a young Liberian whose life was turned upside down by his nation’s brutal civil war. After fleeing his hometown of Robertsport in 2003, Lomax landed in the capital city of Monrovia, where daily foraging trips brought him in contact with the sport that would quickly become his greatest passion:
“The first day I went and got food, and rice on the second,” said Lomax. “Then one day I went back and I saw a bodyboard. Everyone else was taking food, but I took that. I held it in my hand.” Lomax didn’t know what the board was called (“I called it a floater”) but, thanks to a Scottish aid worker named Magnus, he did know what it was for. Before Lurd’s arrival, Magnus had occasionally surfed in Robertsport — observed by Lomax. “I used to watch. I used to dream that I could do it.”
That August, the war ended and Lomax returned to Robertsport. After school and his work with the local fishermen, Lomax would paddle out on his looted bodyboard, the only rider on Robertsport’s spectacular waves. Then one day in 2005, a Californian named Nicholai Lidow turned up: he had heard there were waves in Robertsport, and had brought along his board. Lidow was astonished to see a Liberian out on the waves with him. He befriended Lomax, gave him his surfboard and promised to return.