Ganvie – The African Village Built Entirely On Stilts

The village of Ganvie, commonly referred to as the Venice of Africa, is the largest lake village in Africa, built entirely on stilts, in the middle of a lake.

The village of Ganvie, commonly referred to as the Venice of Africa, is the largest lake village in Africa, built entirely on stilts, in the middle of a lake.

Ganvie – The African Village Built Entirely On Stilts

Lying in the middle of Lake Nokue, in the city of Cotonou in Benin, is a stunning unique village, Ganvie, commonly referred to as the Venice of Africa. People have lived on this stilt city for centuries with no intentions of moving.

Image: Brian montalbo photography

The history of Ganvie can be traced back to the 17th century, when the Tofinu people got tired of always running from Fon soldiers who captured people and sold them to Portuguese and European traders, decided to hide in and around Lake Nokoue.

A fon warrior

The Fon warriors believed a terrible demon lived in Lake Nokoué so they refused to go anywhere near it.

On realizing this, the Tofinus decided to build their homes on stilts in the middle of the lake. In this way, they evaded capture. They named their settlement Ganvié because it means ‘we survived’ in the local language.

Fast forward to present day, the people of Ganvie have grown accustomed to living on the water, and most of them do not show signs of abandoning their lives for an alternative on dry land.

Today Ganvié is one of – if not – the largest lake village in Africa and is very popular with tourists.

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Photo Credits: pinterest

The village currently has a population of over 30,000, who live in approximately 3,000 homes built over the surface of lake Nokoue.

The homes have been built with different designs where some have terraces giving a serene view of the shallow waters while others are audacious and imaginative. The houses are mainly made of bamboo and are changed annually.

UNESCO’s World Heritage in 1996 added the village to its World Heritage Tentative List because of the uniqueness, history, and spectacular architecture.

Photo credit: d-stanley @Flickr

This unique African village’s main industries other than tourism are now fishing and fish farming. The only means of transportation to and from the village is through wooden boats.

Uzonna Anele

Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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Uzonna Anele