Elmina is a town situated on a south-facing bay on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana, and the first European (Portuguese) settlement in West Africa. In the old days, the location of Elmina made it a significant site for provisioning ships headed south towards the Cape of Good Hope on their way to India.

It was some years ago when I was passing Elmina on the way to another country, Benin, to take some pictures of a celebration there. While crossing the bridge in Elmina, I was seduced by the view of the bay and the hundreds of fishermen with their boats. I cultivated this image in me for months and months, and couldn’t get over it, so I collected money and a year later I traveled to Elmina again for 5 days to look closer at this magic place.

It was my very private project. I wanted to experience that place which once left a strong impression on me, looking like one big anthill, with hundreds of people, including children involved in fishing. Today, even with a population of 33,000 people, Elmina still remains a fishing town.

Regardless of the modern technology in the fishing industry, and especially due to the aggressive behavior of Chinese fishermen, the people of Elmina are bravely fighting for survival and for their existence. They support themselves by creating small cooperatives, where profits are shared equally between the members of these communities. This is the kind of grassroots work, without any state aid.

—Tomasz Tomaszewski