chainsaws and fishing boats

Everything is connected. Earlier in this blog I wrote about the decrease of the rain forest in Ghana and all over West Africa.

When the access to charcoal and firewood diminishes and prices rise in a country where nearly everybody is cooking on little welded stoves at the back of their houses on aluminum pots, the situation gets tense.

As everywhere else in the world, wood is a multi-purpose resource which is used in a large variety of businesses and trades.

Building houses, construction work, heavy-duty carts, cooking equipment, fuel and last but not least fishing boats all depend on the logging of the extremely dense woods of the tropical rain forest. The most vulnerable of all are the fishermen.

Their small margin is reinvested into their fishing equipment and the owning a boat is a dream for every fisherman that most of them will never fulfill.

The best boats are dugouts. Simply because they resist the aggressive saltwater longer and so the fishermen get more for their money.

Since most of the big trees are cut down already and replanting policies are non-existing it is really difficult and expensive to find trees big enough that can be used for fishing boats. Due to that, most of the boats are built from timber parts and beams which make the boat more vulnerable to the saltwater. Consequently the fishermen need to buy new boats more often, cutting back their already small margin from fishing and exposing them to an even more underprivileged lifestyle.

Sure, there are safer ways to dig out a trunk of a tree to create a new fishing boat than wearing sunglasses, a swim cap and walking bare-foot through the chippings from your four feet chain saw. But would you look as bad ass as him? I doubt it!
After watching him for 5 minutes cutting away wood at the trunk of the soon-to-be-boat I asked if I can take a picture. This was harder than I thought because unlike everybody else around me didn’t care that I was standing there and watching him doing his job for some time. With a simple nod he authorized me standing there and taking pictures.

The next thing, after finishing the work with the chainsaw is going to be the turning over of the boat. After that the starboard side of the boat is being processed with a flex.

All I could think of was: how are they going to drag the boat to the beach?
At least 100 meter just with muscle power. Through the whole community of Jamestown harbor. Through the little skewed huts and dusty alleys, passing big ovens to smoke the fish, the market hall (which is not more than concrete floor, metal poles and corrugated sheets) and tiny shops selling everything a fisher needs, from hooks and anchors welded from construction steel to nets as well as nails to build and repair the ships.

It’s a different world down in Jamestown and I feel that people here treat you as what you are. They remind you in their way that you are a social alien to their community. That no matter how silent you stand aside and try to be ignored and blend in with the houses, a crowd of kids will stare at you or passing fishermen will look at you suspicious.
I am very much interested in this community but feel that staying longer might only create tensions and this is the last I want.

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