Back in 2009 131 people were added on the census records as living as permanent residents on Migingo. This is a very small rock island, just half an acre to be exact. It is located in Africa. Well, smack bang in the middle of Lake Victoria to be precise. It really is a crazy little place, boosting bars, a beauty salon, a few hotels and a handful of brothels! It even has its own pharmacy.
These little wooden and iron sheet huts or shacks are literally crammed on top of one another but the locals seem to get on just fine with it. It all started sometime in 1991 when a couple of Kenyan fisherman were first to take the island and settling up there after a successful fishing trip. The area is very rich with Nile Perch so it wasn’t long before word got out and they were joined by others.
Pretty much all the real estate land has been occupied and it now has fishermen from other African counties such as Uganda and Tanzania. It has become a hugely popular thriving community.
Up to 100 boats each day come in packed full with great catches, its all official now with them all having to be weighed for sale to buyers. The big firms snap up this Nile Perch and then they are sold all over the world – even as far as the European shores.
As with every good thing though, there is usually some misfortune. It all kicked off in 2009 over a territory dispute. You see, as the island is in between Uganda and Kenya both claimed they owned it. Officially due to what maps actually document it, it does lie within Kenyan borders but the Ugandans were having none of that and the Ugandan government claimed Migingo is in their waters and illegal for Kenyans to fish there.
As reports got out about the rich pickings (or fishings) about what people were earning the island soon started drawing unwanted attention. Pirates raided the place and stole a lot of the equipment and it took some time for order to resume.
Uganda sent maritime police in to calm the situation down and now it is officially monitored and regulated. So from a time when people just turned up with their fishing gear and made some money it is now a proper run organisation with entry permits required and they even pay taxes!
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Photo Credits: Jesco Denzel, Andrew Mcleish