In the middle of Lake Nokoue, Dahomey, a village of the Aiso tribe has won for itself the reputation of an African Venice.
In the middle of Lake Nokoue, Dahomey, a village of the Aiso tribe has won for itself the reputation of an African Venice. The village is called Ganvie. It is remarkable because all the houses lifted above the level of the by stilts.
The site was originally chosen as a natural defence against tribal enemies. Nowadays, as in Venice, a preserving the stilt-village has become an expensive business. Ganvie can only be reached by pirogues which now have to be imported form Nigeria. Bamboo for the huts is also imported. But as a major tourist attraction, the village qualifies for government support.
SYNOPSIS: In the middle of Lake Nokoue is a village reputed to be the Venice of Dahomey. It's called Ganvie (pronounced Gon-vee-eh). The Asia tribe traditionally chose this remarkable sits as a natural defence against tribal enemies.
Even in the 1970s, the only way in and out of the village is by pirogue. They have a floating market. At which the villagers sell their fish and buy goods ferried in from Abomey-Calavi.
Even the village chief uses the traditional means of transport--though the pirogues now have to be imported from Nigeria.
As a tourist attraction, Ganvie qualifies for Government support. Which is just as well since the cost of lakeland living is on the increase. Even the bamboo for the houses has to be imported.
Twentieth-century living has made few inroads. The telephone is powered by a petrol generator. Another generator pumps up fresh water supplies from a borehole.
There's now a bar, which accommodates the tourists as much as the villagers. But the traditional ways of life prevail. Fishing is still the major activity. And the huts are still built from traditional bamboo and grass--even though villagers grumble that the coat of huts has increased to about a hundred-and-twenty-pounds sterling, and that homes would be far cheaper and less precarious if built on shore.