The Ugandan Dictator and the Louisiana Crayfish
The surprising story of how Gulf Coast crustaceans and South Asian spices birthed a tasty new cuisine—and an economic success—along a lake in the heart of Africa.
Photos by Trina Moyles
The fishermen begin their work at five a.m., before the sun illuminates the lake, immersing their woven basket traps below the surface. The men live on the steep hillsides around the warped edges of Lake Bunyonyi, a volcanic crater lake that cradles 29 rolling green islands. At nearly 150 feet deep, it’s the second-deepest lake on the African continent.
The folkloric history of Lake Bunyonyi is steeped in superstitious myth. There are legends of the water pulling greedy men below until their lungs burst, of islands suddenly flipping upside down and of neighbors taking revenge on one another through witchcraft. Young, unmarried women who could no longer hide their swollen, pregnant bodies were once sent to starve to death on “Punishment Island,” a desolate patch of reeds with only a single silver rotted tree. The practice ended long ago, but some locals believe the spirits of banished young women still linger on the lake, hungry for revenge.
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