Plantain Island ,    
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This is Plantain Island, a small fishing island off the coast of Sierra Leone. It is of historical significance, with slavers, pirates and early colonialists all inhabiting the island in its past. However, in more recent years the island has been disappearing. Whether it's through erosion or sinking (they're not sure) the locals will confirm that the shorelines have in some areas withdrawn as much as 20 metres in the past 10 years. At the end of 2011 a brand new fish-landing bay was supposed to be opening up on the mainland - just a 30-minute boat ride away (although currently most of it's fish is dried and delivered to Tumbu, a three-hour boat ride away). Its aim is to reshape the fishing in the area: make it more sustainable, commercially successful and environmentally friendly. For those it employs it should mean a better future for the inhabitants of that area of Sierra Leone. Either way the vibrant life and culture of Plantain Island will almost certainly change in the future. These photos are a record of the island taken over four days in October 2011. Plantain Island by Tom Bradley At the fishing port of Tumbu a fisherman pulls in his modest catch as boats gather; One of them will be taking supplies and people to Plantain Island. A man relaxes during the day. Work during the day is not always constant. Breaks are unscheduled and part of island life. An Imam ponders over his Koran while his grand-daughter sits patiently. A woman's smile and position deceives her old age as she happily soaks up the midday heat in the shade. As men bring in their catch (sometimes they will be out at sea for a week) women gather to buy baskets of fish. Prices are negotiated and the women take the fish off to smoke-dry. From there they will be taken back across to Tumbu and either sold there or further on in the capital, Freetown. Women wash and descale fish they have bought that morning from the fishermen on the beach. Men sort and neatly stack fire-dried fish. Stacks of dried fish are rolled out to the boats. Stacks of dried fish are lifted onto boats to be transported across to Tumbu and then most likely Freetown, where they will be sold to vendors and small businesses. Fishermen pull their boats high onto the beach when they're not out fishing. During the day they'll make little repairs and sew up the holes in their nets. A young girl escapes from her chores, finding an old mattress to lie on. The baker bares the smoke in his bakery to check on the bread he will sell to the rest of the island. A hub of the city with the men and youths of Plantain Island is the local cinema, which charges a small fee for football matches. Football is taken very seriously in western Africa and even in a removed place like Plantain Island they manage to receive most Premiership and Spanish League matches. An argument breaks out in the cinema over who is the best player - Messi or van Persie. A woman carries a basket of fish through the back streets to her house where she will fire-dry them. Late at night a young man fiddles with mobile phones and chargers he has accumulated or been paid to fix. In the pouring rain women gather to buy and distribute the fish brought back by a fishing boat arriving late at night.
A woman wanders through the village with her torchlight. Besides the cinema there are few other generators on the island; torches, lamps and mobile phones are charged at a charging shop and much of the night is lit up by oil lamps.