All along the southern coast of Ghana we ran into small fishing villages. I became very interested in these communities that were so engaged with the water. The shore was a place of social gathering and industry. Very different then how we do it in the NYC where these things seem to have little to do with each other. It’s one of those interesting intersections between tradition, social interaction, and nature.
I spoke with some of the young fishermen as we walked along Kokrobite beach and the Cape Coast. They told me that they catch Tilapia, Tuna, Herring, and Sole. They cast wide nets about 5 miles from shore. While on the hunt, fisherman supposedly sing songs that evoke the particular fish they seek.We were unable to get anyone to commit to sharing music mentioned above. We encountered major language barriers. I think it would have been best to locate an elder. But, as I mentioned this is a young man’s game. Regardless of the age of the fisherman, fishing carries a long history of tradition.
While walking around these fishing villages, I asked one of the fisherman on the Cape Coast (Ashanti Region/South West Ghana) about why they are not out fishing. He told me that they don’t fish on Tuesday. A few days later I asked the same question of an idle fisherman in Kokrobite (Greater Accra). He said they don’t fish on Thursday. It didn’t hit me until later: Why were there particularly days when certain fisherman did not fish? The weather throughout Ghana is fairly consistent — dry and sunny in the 8o degree Fahrenheit range. Our friend Sweetie in Accra explained to me the reason why–particular ethnic groups leave the waters alone on certain days so that a particular spirit can replenish the water with fish. The Fante people in the Cape Coast have different cultural beliefs than the Ga people of Accra. The process of fishing, from what I hear, is accompanied by prayers and offerings.
The large fishing boats are carved from a single log. After construction, they are consecrated by an herbalist and a priest. As you can see from the photos, the boats are decorated and carved with traditional symbols (i.e Adinkra) or more modern motifs that relate more contemporary issues. Needless to say, they weigh a ton. To set sail from shore, they use logs and a plank of wood to roll the large boats into the water.