Ten kilometers north of Cotonou, “the Venice of Africa”, Ganvié is a lakeside village in Benin on Lake Nokoué.
It was founded in the 18th century by the “water men” or Toffinous, originally from Togo (the Adjakedos) and Tado, in the south of Benin, who came to take refuge from the slave raids in the swamps surrounding the lake.
Legend has it that King Agbogdobé turned into a sparrowhawk to fly over the lagoon and spotted the island of Ganvié. He then turned into a crocodile and his people, who did not have a boat, climbed on his back to cross the lake to this refuge.
Today, the 75,000 inhabitants of Ganvié live in stilted houses made of wood. The dugout canoe remains the only means of transportation and it is not possible to reach the city otherwise.
Fishing remains the main activity in the area and it is not uncommon to see a fisherman throwing his nets around a corner.
Pirogues loaded with merchandise come to cross at the floating market. The inhabitants sell all kinds of products and food there.