Along this coast of ours, nothing is strange. If you wake early enough to meet the canoes as they come in—in Port Bouet, Côte d’Ivoire; in Ngleshi, Ghana; in Old Jeswang, the Gambia; in Grand-Popo, Benin; in Apam, Ghana—you will hear fishermen speaking Fante, Ga, Ewe, all languages of Ghana.
As the men separate into identifiable bodies in the emerging sun, pulling in the nets, their chants get louder: “Ee ba ei, ee ba ke loo—It is coming, it is laden with fish.” Each net comes in heavy with what the deep has to offer in the clutches of its mesh. The fish flop, flail, and trampoline on the sand, catching the sun’s light as quick hands sort them into wide metal basins.
The catch is never the same. Yes, there are the easily recognized commercial varieties: snapper, grouper, tuna, mackerel, kpanla (a variety of hake). But invariably there are the coveted: crayfish, eels, rays, and species of odd shapes and sizes, boned and boneless, some with features that would excite fantasy and horror writers in the manner that open-sea Phronima creatures apparently inspired the film Alien. But there will be no screaming here—there will be spices to render all species delicious.