Tag Archive: Ghana

On Ghana’s Lake Volta, Child Slavery Is In Plain Sight

September 5, 2021

(CNN)The steel gray clouds hung like an ominous slate blanket over the far reaches of Lake Volta, Ghana. From the shores I stood gazing out at a wooden fishing boat on what I presumed to be a family out fishing for the afternoon: two older boys and their three younger brothers, messing around with fishing poles and nets, catching fish for their evening meal.

My comment to that effect drew a sharp retort from my translator. This was not a family outing; these were enslaved teenagers and their young charges on a predawn to after-dark workday on the lake. It brought me up short. As a photographer who has traveled to more than 150 countries, often to document forced labor and human trafficking in dangerous conditions, I thought I had a pretty thorough awareness of the social and humanitarian horrors of modern slavery.

Unlike some of my other expeditions, however, there was nothing secretive about this. I did not have to sneak into a Nepalese brick kiln factory to document workers stacking and loading dozens of bricks on their heads in sweltering 100-plus degree heat. Or climb 200 feet down a rickety abandoned mine shaft to photograph enslaved gold miners. No, here on Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world, child slavery was in plain sight. There was no attempt to hide anything: right before me were children as young as five forced to work up to 18 hours a day, with no pay, often little or no food, in dangerous, dirty conditions. The sheer brazenness stunned me.

According to the nonprofit organization Free the Slaves, more than one-third of the 1,620 households surveyed in and around Lake Volta housed a victim of child trafficking or someone held in slave-like conditions. Yet this is not an ancient, entrenched tradition in this place: Lake Volta was only created in 1965 when the forestland it now covers was flooded during the construction of a hydroelectric dam to provide Ghana’s electricity supply.

Read the full story by LIsa Kristine on CNN.

Child Slaves Risk Their Lives on Ghana’s Lake Volta

March 11, 2019

Sold by their parents, around 20,000 children work on the lake, enslaved by the fishermen they call “master.”

Dawn breaks over the water. Adam leads a column of five other boys through the high, golden grass to the softly lapping edge of Lake Volta in Ghana’s central region. The group of boys will spend the better part of the day fishing under a hot equatorial sun.
They’ve come from different towns, at different times, but they all have one thing in common. Each one of them was bought by the same fisherman to come and work as his slave.

Enslaved on the lake

“Every morning we wake up and we go to the lake, we paddle, remove the nets,” says Adam. “Then we come back, remove the fish, prepare the nets for the next casting and around 4pm, we go back to cast the net.”
Adam doesn’t know his own age, but appears to be about 12-years-old. He estimates he’s worked for Samuel, the man he calls “master,” for around three years. “I don’t want to be here,” says Adam. “I want to go to school, but I’m forced to be here.”
Adam is just one of 20,000 children on Lake Volta who the International Labour Organization reports are working for slave masters.
Most of the children come to the lake from hundreds of miles away. They are sold by their desperately poor parents to human traffickers, sometimes for as little as $250, which in this area, is what it would cost to purchase a cow.
CNN joined Adam and five other enslaved children working for Samuel, to witness what a typical day on the lake looks like for them. It started in the pre-dawn hours. The young crew loaded the gear onto a wooden boat and pushed off into the water.

To view the full multimedia story by Leif Coorlim, Petter Rudden, and Michal Przedlacki on CNN: Click Here