Tanji is a fishing village I have visited twice. Once with my camera and once without. Many Gambians go to the village to buy fish and to resell in the markets of Serekunda. The beaches are crowded with people wading out to fishing canoes and others buying those fish for resale. The mahogany canoes are large and seagoing, painted colorfully so that you can recognize them individually from a distance. The entire beachside is a frenzy of commercial fishing with many specific trades at work and some villagers who mill about hoping to catch scraps of pay for odd jobs. There are many drying racks and cutting and cleaning tables with everything organized in a fluid and specialized but confused way. If you just let yourself move with the crowd, you feel as if you are being bumped along a Rube Goldberg assembly line around the beach.
One of the destination point along this “assembly line” are a series of smoke house. These concrete block structures are long rectangles, dark except for the light penetrating through clerestories of patterned punctured blocks. The smell of the beach is a mixture of fresh and souring fish, but the smoke houses have a rich aroma of burning paper, saw dust, and fish. Upon entering, those monitoring the smoke houses were happy to let me taste the fish. The yaboye fish I had has was delicious. The range of fish included a few I recognized like tapia and barracuda, and others I did not.
These gentlemen, named above left to right, all monitor a fish house. It is a slow job, and they enjoyed the slow African way here. The fishing village was a dynamic mix of diligent, arduous work and nonchalant beach lazing.