Lake Victoria, Kenia / December 2010
Small-Island, huge conflict. Policemen with charged guns, drunkards, fishermen, businessman, prostitutes – all jumbled together on a rock the size of a football pitch in the vast waters of Lake Victoria. All of them share the same reason for being there – money.
Nile Perch is one of Kenya’s and Uganda’s main export goods. It is hardly consumed in neither country but goes directly to European markets. Once the fish are being landed on the lakeshore, it doesn’t take much more than 24 hours for the filets to arrive in Frankfurt, Rungy or Amsterdam.
Since the number of Nile Perch is going down in the Lake, the competition amongst fishermen got tenser. Some years ago, they found out that they can save time and fuel when they sell their catch to middlemen on this isolated rock – a bot trip from Migingo to Kenya takes at least two hours, to Uganda at least seven hours.
Fishermen on Migingo get paid in cash. Word got around in the region. Compared to local standards, there is a lot of money to make on Migingo. Women arrived on the island, offering all kinds of services. Businessmen arrived, trying to make quick money by selling cheap liquor. There are thirteen bars on Migingo.
Tensions among different nationalities rise up frequently. Both Kenya and Uganda claim the Island. For now, Migingo is officially Kenyan, but Ugandan Police have set up an Outpost and control any movement to and from the Island.