The fishing village community in Elmina, Ghana is an area that has both modern and
traditional elements. This unique town is a vibrant and bustling community that
sustains life on the coast for over 20,000 residents.
The fisherman set sail around dusk to fish all through the night. Serious fishing
boats range from small vessels carrying around 16 people and larger boats holding
about 20. Most boats use nets as well as underwater lights to attract the fish to
the boat for an easy catch. Fishermen have modernized their craft and now utilize
motors as a means to get around instead of paddles. Around daybreak the catch is
brought in and handed off to the market to be sold at varying prices.
There are many different types of fish that are hauled to market each morning after
a long nights work. Some of the more common catches include herring, groupers, eels,
and some species of small sharks. However, the variety of fish to be sold shows
that nearly everything caught in the nets gets sent to market. Not even the smallest
of fish, some ranging as small as two or three inches, are spared but are sent to
one of the major economic centers of the area known as the market.
Many of the jobs in Elmina are based around supporting the art and craft of fishing,
maintaining all the equipment necessary for the trade, and selling the catch at
market. Who performs these jobs is loosely decided by gender. The men do all the
fishing and major upkeep on the boats and fishing equipment while the women perform
all the tasks necessary for preparing the fish for the market. The women clean and
butcher the fish as well as haggle over the selling price. The children work both
down by the water helping with the catch or repairing nets and in the market doing
odd jobs as well. However, children may not accompany fisherman out to sea unless
they are 18 years of age.
Our first impressions of the Elmina fishing village were of bright colors and strange
scents. The boats were colorfully painted with vibrant shades of green, red and
yellow. Various flags were hoisted high over the wooden boats to identify ownership
of the vessels. The sensory overload created mass confusion of people bustled about
the busy marketplace.
The fishing community was definitely too much information to take in all at once.
Upon further reflection, it became easier to have a more wholesome understanding
of the inner workings of the Elmina fishing community. It became clear that the
effort of an entire village is required to keep the day-to-day operations running
smoothly and at maximum proficiency.
As we were surrounded by fish, the strong stench permeated the thick air. Sellers
were chopping and preparing their daily catch to put on display for the buyers.
It was difficult to walk in the dense crowd as people were packed into the tiny
cove. We have grown to appreciate the blend of tradition and modernity that lie
within the community after a further reflection. It was abundantly clear that the
Elmina fishing village remains an important component in everyday life for locals
on the gold coast.