Since I was a young boy, I have always been fascinated by Rwandan fishermen. Growing up, their iconic wooden boats on Lake Kivu, their imposing physical presence and their mysterious lives have been a part of my imagination and a sight I missed while I was away from home. As I finally got to hang out with these men, I asked them about what it takes to be a fisherman. A few things came up but the biggest one is having physical strength. “You have to be extremely strong to pull the net out of the water in the middle of the night”, one young man said laughing. Fishing is a man’s job and most of the fishermen come from the south western part of Rwanda called “Cyangugu”. They communicate using a local dialect called “Igishi”.
Most of these guys spent up to 24 days away from their families, fishing. They head out on the lake at 5pm everyday, they fish all night and in the morning, they head on the shore where they clean the fish,and get ready for the women who buy the fish in bulk to resell it in the local market.
Young men hope to learn from more experienced and older fishermen and hope to own their own boats someday.
Photographs taken in Inyakarika, Karongi Rwanda 2014