Lake Kivu is one of Rwanda's main attractions, and we certainly understand why. If you've spent time on, or near, the lake at night, you've undoubtedly seen (and heard) the night fisherman of Lake Kivu. In this unique experience, you'll get to join up with one of the fishing teams and learn about the important tradition of fishing on Lake Kivu!
As the sun goes down over the lake, you'll board a small motor boat that will take you right up to the fishing boats. From there you'll have the chance to board the hand-made fishing boat, meet the fishing team, learn about the process, and (when it's time to raise the nets) experience how strenuous and strategic the work really is. You can head back to shore whenever you're ready, but most likely after they pull the nets for the first time. You'll get to take home a small amount of sambaza from the catch, and if you're staying at Home Saint Jean in Kibuye, they'll cook the sambaza for you at no extra cost.
Some of the fishing cooperatives on the lake have been around since 1975, and many fisherman have over 20 years of experience. Of course, there are many young men who have grown up on fishing boats, and are now members of fishing cooperatives.
Lake Kivu fisherman are know to sing when they're rowing. The songs, called ekiovu and amasare and sung to encourage strength among the rowers.
Sambaza were introduced to Lake Kivu in the 1950s by the Belgians. Today, the small, silver fish are becoming quite popular around the country as a fried treat. The market demand for sambaza is reflecting in the price, as sambaza is now fetching more than any other fish caught in Lake Kivu. The fish are so popular, that when someone from Kigali visits Kibuye, s/he often return to the greeting of, did you bring me sambaza?
Fisherman typically work in groups of about 8, sometimes rotating during the night. Fishing begins as the sun goes down. Once they boats have reached their fishing spot, chosen by the captain, they set their nets. Once the nets are set, they light the kerosene lamps that attract the fish.
After about two hours, the nets are pulled by hand back to the surface, revealing the catch. The fisherman stay out all night, then sell their fish in the morning.