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Our values influence the rules in our communities

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It sounds like a truism, but evolving values and the competing claims for setting the rules affect daily lives and decisions in the fishing communities in very real ways. This is exacerbated by the crisis or near crisis situations in relations to the resource, to urbanisation and the conditions of living space, as well as the difficulties to invest in new and also alternative livelihoods when the economic conditions are worsening.

The Mare Nostrum team, composed of Carla Zickfeld, MN Coordinator, Aliou Sall, local coordinator, and Stefan Karkow, documentalist, has been working through October 2011 in four fishing villages: Hann, Yoff, Kayar and Saint Louis.

This time, the focus of attention in the villages was on gathering evidence about the belief and value systems of the communities, as they are experienced by the men and women living there. In particular, the interviews summarised in the following short reports bring out the role of the sacred in organising community life and how this affects their relationship with the marine resources and with public rules and policy.

A second line of work involved the planning of future activities with a view to share the challenges of the fishing communities with academics and practioners from outside in search of robust answers to these challenges. Here aesthetic education and practiced international solidarity form the basis of the planning.

In this context, the Goethe Institute in Dakar has accepted to be a partner in the organisation of an international multi-stakeholder conference in May or June 2012, during the forthcoming Biennale Dak'Art 2012. A photo-exhibition by Stefan Karkow should be part of the conference programme and the renowned Senegalese artist Sambalaye DIOP has accepted a role as curator of the exhibition of contemporary artists about the symbolism of the sea. A cultural manifestation is foreseen about the cultural heritage of the traditional fishing communities with dances, songs and poetry of the people of the sea.

All photos in this section by Stefan Karkow.