Sand Fishers

Samouté Andrey Diarra, Mali / France, 2012, color, video, 72'

The Bozos in the West African nation of Mali have been renowned for many generations for their skills in the art of fishing. They know the waters of the Niger River better than anyone else, and they are on good terms with the water spirits. In recent years, however, their lives have become increasingly difficult, as fish stocks are declining dramatically due to climate change and drought. Gala is one of many young Bozo men who feel compelled to leave their village and family and go upriver to make some money as a "sand fisher." Together with many others, he fills his pirogue, a traditional wooden boat, with sand and gravel from the river. On arrival in the capital of Bamako, the sand is brought ashore and traded for use in the construction industry. The film follows Gala as he goes about his exhausting work, and shows how competition is becoming increasingly intense - for his own people and for others. We see him on a return visit to his village and talking to his young sons. He urges them not to forget where their roots are, but it's painfully clear that the Bozos' traditional way of life is destined to disappear.

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