The militaries of this world have a basic mandate to protect nations and its people on land, in the air and on the sea. If by this wisdom, man has moved from merely living on land to the air (with the upsurge of skyscrapers), then there must surely be good enough reasons to have people residing on the water as well.
Stilt communities! Yes, that is how man has innovated living on water and while this is not the only way people have been able to build places of abode on water, these villages or communities have usually attracted a lot of tourists to them.
Tourists are also attracted to these communities because of how long they have existed, the way(s) of its people and its uniqueness amidst the several challenges that could hinder such an ‘unusual’ way of human habitation.
There is pretty much no livestock in places like these but here in these Africa’s stilts on villages, you will be exposed to some very interesting details – details you never knew about them.
No official census has been conducted to this effect but there are an estimated 150,000 to 250,000 people who live in the community.
Makoko is a village that was not quite a planned town that started more than a hundred years ago. The small fishing village was built by fishermen who came from Benin to make money before it grew into an illegally constructed one-square-kilometer urban settlement.
Today, the population consists mainly of migrant workers from West African countries, trying to make a living in Nigeria.
The Stilt Village of Ganvie, Benin
Ganvie is Africa’s largest town on stilts, home to over 30,000 residents who live in bamboo huts built on water. The settlement came about in the 17th century, just about the time slavery began to boom in Africa.
A tribe called the Tofinu fled toward Lake Nokoue, being pursued by slavers of the Fon tribe, from the powerful West African kingdom of Dahomey. Religious beliefs prevented the Fon from fighting on the sacred lake, so the lagoon became a haven for the Tofinu – as long as they never returned to dry land. So they created a new home for themselves, miles from the shore.
It’s been over 500 years today and the Tofinu settlement in the middle of the lake has grown into Ganvie (which means ‘we survived’), a bustling town. The main occupation of its residents is fish farming that is done in pens made of reeds and palm fronds.
Instead of walking or biking to a neighbor’s house, villagers row dugout canoes and today boast of over 3,000 buildings include a post office, a bank, a hospital, a church, and a mosque. The village school is one of the few buildings not on stilts; it’s located on a patch of dry land big enough for kids to play soccer after class.
Nzulenzu Stilt Village, Ghana
Believed to have been in existence for more than 400 years, Nzulenzu, an Nzema (one of the tribes in Ghana) word that means ‘surface of water’ is home to over 600 people.
The inhabitants of the village are said to have migrated from Walata, a city in the ancient Ghana Empire, the earliest of the Western Sudanese States.
According to tradition, ancestors of the village were brought to their present place by a snail. Still a very traditional community, its people still adhere to norms and taboos. On Thursdays, a day regarded a sacred day on the lake, the villagers do not engage in any strenuous activity.