Ganvie village in Benin

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Posted on Mon, Aug 17 2015 11:59:12

Ganvie villageIn the distant country of Benin there is a large picturesque village Ganvie, proudly referred to as the African Venice. If you look at the settlement from above, it would seem that the village had been subjected to severe flooding. However, the residents of Ganvie settled on the water voluntarily and feel pefectly fine living this way.

About 400 years ago, a friendly tribe of Tofinu was a target of regular raids by the Fon warriors of the tribe Dahomey, who engaged in the slave trade. To escape from getting sold as slaves, Tofinu people rushed to the lake Nakoue, which was the domain of a terrifying demon. When the slave traders followed Tofinus, the demon of Nakoue scared the bejesus out of them, and they did not dare step on the lake territories. Since then, Tofinu happily lived on the lake.

Oddly enough, the Nakoue demon played the role of a guardian angel for the Tofinu tribes – after all, Tofinus descended from crocodiles. After settling on the lake, Tofinu used crocodiles to transport bamboo  for the houses to build on the water.  All houses in Ganvie are built on long stilts, and motorized canoes are used for getting around the village.

The total population of Ganvie exceeds 20 thousand people. Surprisingly, the village is quite self-sufficient – there is everything you need: a hospital, a pharmacy, shops, a market, a church, a mosque, and a recently built school. There are even a couple of hotels and fashionable bars. Some soil was brought to the village in order to built the school and a cemetery for the spirits to rest in the ground. Tofinu step ashore only with the purpose to sell their catch. Men are regularly engaged in fishing and breeding the fish. Women take care of household chores and trading on the local floating market.

Ganvie is in the UNESCO World Heritage list, which attracts plenty of tourists from abroad, as well as from Africa.

Gallery: Ganvie, the African Venice

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Read more about Benin off the beaten path
Find more off the beaten path near: Cotonou

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