people, size, ambitions, visions, all these make plenty of things to tell about Nigeria, the land of plenty
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Fishing with a net
throwing nets in circle
It is dark, 4am perhaps. Wooden boats leave Makoko, paddling towards the lagoon. First, they pass under the Third Mainland Bridge, then head towards the middle of the water expanse that separates the Lekki peninsula from the Mainland. Groups of ten boats go fishing together. Each boat carries two people, sometimes three if a younger one joins to observe, learn and help sort out the fishes from the net when it comes out of the water. The person sitting at the back has the responsibility to direct the boat and keep its balance when the one at the front stands and throws the net with a gyrating movement.
pulling the nets
The fishermen are wearing long sleeves and usually trousers. The wind in the middle of the lagoon can be chilly and one is rapidly wet from the contact with waves and bringing up the net. The fishing routine comes as follows: the 10 boats identify the area where they hope to catch fish. They form a circle, wide enough to be able to throw their nets simultaneously inside the circle. Ballast is attached all around the net so that it can reach the bottom of the water. Fishermen wait for a few minutes for the fishes to trap themselves in the net and then pull it by one rope attached in the middle of the net. Gravity regroups the ballast catching fishes by surprised inside the net.
Fishes are then detached and thrown at the bottom of the boat while the net is being neatly folded in loops to allow it to be thrown again. After that, men grab their paddles and move in silence through wind and the waves to the next destination to repeat the throwing and catching ritual. They go home mid-morning to bring the fish to their wives who are in charge of selling it fresh or smoked.
Roland Ogiamien is a renown wood carver. He is now retired in his home town of Benin City and is now in his 80s. We met him in his simple workshop, a barn opened on the surrounding greenery. A part of the studio is used to store wood pieces and make sure they are well dried. He is using a collection of german ustensils to carve and polish the wood. He spent most of his career working out of Lagos before relocating to Benin.
Roland was explaining that the wood he uses today is different from his early days. Ebony has become rare and wood carvers have had to switch to other types of wood. Traditional heritage is a large part of his inspiration which he translates on wood with his own particular style, exploring various techniques for the finish of his pieces. History
Ogiamien is the name of an important royal family in Benin Kingdom. Towards the end of the Ogiso dynasty (12th century), Ogiso Owodo did not have a son to succeed him, his brother Evian therefore took over after Owodo…
Epe (pronounced Ekpe in yoruba) is a small city located on the narrow stretch of water that separates the lagoon of Lagos from the one, further in the east, known as Lekki lagoon. It is built on the small hills that border the water. It is connected by a bridge to the Lekki peninsula.
The town is famous for its fish market located on the water side. It is the place to buy fresh water fish, some of them still alive. They are kept in plastic buckets but also directly in the lagoon water in woven baskets.
Many more is for sale such as crayfish, crocodile, turtle, monitor lizard, big snails. Game meat is also available coming from the nearby forest of the Omo reserve. We saw two wild cats with white spotted black fur and a strong scent; As we left we saw antilope legs arriving to the stall.
Some fishes are particular, one is sending electricity shocks when you touch it, another one was looking like a prehistoric fish with a sort of dinosaur like shell; there was also one with giant scal…
Chief J. Agbo Ooye had been waiting in the shade of a large tree, in front of the National Museum of Esie, dressed in ceremonial costume with a velvet hat incrusted with crystal beads sown in the shape of his title and his name. He was sitting next to his wife on a bench, expecting our arrival. His wife, he would tell us later, was his best friend and she was actually demonstrating it by guiding his frail body from one place to another and guiding his hand when it came to sign autographs of his books. Chief Agbo Ooye is the author of two booklets on the Esie Stones. The first one, called A Personal Account of the Esie Stones is giving an overview of the differences between the scientific and the traditional interpretation of the Esie Stones. The second one is called the History of Esie and gives a brief account of Esie's history from the early settlement of Yorubas in various groups (Esie, Oro, Eku Apa, Igbonla, Edidi, Igbesi, etc...) to the present day. Those groups, who lived o…