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The Fishermen of Ghana

Romanian photographer Tudor Vintiloiu spent some time documenting the tight knit fishing community of a country burdened with a sad slave past.

by Photos: Tudor Vintiloiu, Words: Mihai Popescu
18 June 2015, 10:20am

This article originally appeared on VICE Romania

Romanian photographer Tudor Vintiloiu has held a day job as a photojournalist for eight years now. That said, he's best known for his innovative photo projects from places like Africa, Latin America and Asia. He says it's the culture shock and freedom of these destinations that grabbed his interest, as well as the fact that, "in Africa, you can live for a month on the same amount of money you'd spend in a weekend at a European seaside resort."

Back in 2013 and 2014, Tudor spent roughly four months living in Ghana. The contrasts of Ghana interested him – especially those between the wealthy, educated citizens and those who get by on the humble subsistence provided by fishing. He got a job taking photos for a local politician's election campaign and used his spare time to document the local fishing community.

An estimated 1.5 million of the country's population rely solely on fishing as a form of income. Ghana's dark history is still very much palpable in the country's heavy atmosphere. For instance, Jamestown, one of the capital's poorest neighbourhoods, used to act as a harbour for ships transporting slaves to the New World.

"They've kept the forts, the castles and the cellars built by the Europeans in the 17th century. These places were used to treat people like animals. There's a lot of painful history that's left some pretty deep scars. As a European you can definitely some residual resentment in the way the Ghanian people treat you. I felt as if some people looked at me, a white European with a camera slung around my neck, and felt as if I was exploiting them – just with a different tool."

However, Tudor also befriended many who agreed to have their picture taken. Despite the number of boats and the sheer competition for food, the fishermen of Ghana rely on one another: "Wives, kids, neighbours, relatives – they all come down and help pulling the ropes and sing songs together."

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