Captain John Adams was an English merchant who travelled extensively to West Africa and specifically Ghana. While visiting Ghana and observing the Fantee children , he witnessed them using boards to surf the waves..Captain John Adams travelled to this area between 1786-1822.Here we see young men and children participating in riding the waves for recreation.Also surf riding was reported among Senegalese and Congolese boat men.
"Children amuse themselves by a game similar to our hunting the slipper; and those residing in the villages near the seashore, obtain pieces of broken canoes, which they launch, and paddle outside of the surf, when, watching a proper opportunity, they place their frail barks on the tops of high waves, which, in their progress to the shore, carry them along with great velocity; and the principal art of these young canoe-men consists in preserving their seats while thus hurried along, and which they can only do by steering the planks with such precision, as to prevent them broaching to; for when that occurs, they are washed off, and have to swim to regain them, while their more dexterous companions reach the shore amidst the plaudits of the spectators, who are assembled on the beach to witness their dexterity. Little urchins, of not more than six or seven years of age, amuse themselves in this way, and swim like ducks."
source : Remarks on the Country Extending from Cape Palmas to the River Congo , John Adams , p 42, 1823