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Peter Gostelow

Adventure cycling

Photo Story: Ghana

The beach provided my entry to Ghana. Heading a little way west from where this picture was taken was the Ivory Coast border. Nothing more than a wind-torn flag tied to a palm tree demarcated where one country ended and the next began.

Large colourful boats such as these can be found along many of west Africa’s beaches. Launching one into the ocean involves steering it out over enormous breaking waves, usually with the power of a small out-board engine. It looked incredibly dangerous as I joined the women, children and village elders who watched from the beach the morning after I’d arrived.

Some hours later the boats returned, using the surf to reach the shore. They were then pulled up above the high tide mark. This required the force of several dozen men and the use of palm tree trunks wedged under the hull for the boats to roll up upon. It took 30 minutes or more to make sure each boat was safely beyond the high tide mark. It was not surprising most of the fishermen had biceps like sledgehammers.

When the boats had finally come to rest women and children surrounded them while a broker of some sort began to sell off the catch. It seemed chaotic, but there was clearly an order to it all. While some of the fish were sold and eaten fresh within the village, a lot was smoked and later transported by truck inland.

I rarely saw very large fish, and many of the fishermen said the quantity of fish being caught now was much less than ten or twenty years ago. Somewhere not too far offshore were much larger boats with bigger engines and foreign crews who were taking most of the big fish and leaving the Africans with what remained.

I briefly wrote about this part of the journey here.

The catch

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