Slaves of the Lake

The story of two young boys sold as slaves to the fishing industry in Ghana

Directed by Sheherzad Kaleem

‘Slaves of the Lake’ is a documentary about Emmanuel and Dominic, two young boys, aged around 10 and 13, whose families sold them as slaves into the fishing industry in Ghana. This film is a haunting journey through the boys’ past and their memory of that past. The landscape of the film is the eerie but beautiful Lake Volta with its muddy banks and murky waters, as well as the colourful coastal town of Winneba.

In the film, we discover how Emmanuel and Dominic were taken from their home town of Winneba, in the southern part of the country, to remote fishing villages in the northern part of Lake Volta, several hundred kilometres away. Emmanuel was sold by his mother for £16 when he was seven. Dominic was sold by his grandparents when he was just two years old, for an equally small amount.

The boys spent several years in enslavement, either living in the open or in the tiny mud huts they shared with other slave children. They were often deprived of food and sleep, made to work in harsh conditions and violently beaten by the master and his family. In this film, Emmanuel and Dominic talk about their daily routine in slavery and how they passed their time when they were not fishing or diving in the lake.

Both the boys have tragic memories of seeing several of their friends die as a result of the master’s beatings or because of diving in the lake. In the film Dominic talks about how he often feared for his life because the work he did was dangerous and life threatening.

Emmanuel and Dominic were rescued by a charity called Challenging Heights and brought back to their families with an understanding that they would not be sold again. In the film, the boys talk about being enrolled in school and enjoying a life of normalcy, where they play football with their friends, have lessons in school and dream about their future. Unfortunately, Emmanuel’s recovery has been much slower than Dominic’s. His behaviour is often erratic and he has trouble adjusting to his life back in the village. In the film, Emmanuel explains why he resents living with his aunt and what he experiences at home.

‘Slaves of the Lake’ is the story of two children who lost their childhood and are now determined to get it back.


“Worldview enabled me, as an upcoming film-maker, to travel to a new country and make a film on an issue that I felt very passionate about. It is an organisation comprised of open-minded people who gave me the freedom to explore my idea and provided me with all the support I needed to turn this thought into a living documentary. I am very proud of my film and I can say that it would not have been possible without Worldview.” – Sheherzad Kaleem, Director.