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Migingo: Harmonious life on teeny East African island proves size doesn’t matter

  • Migingo is a tiny island in East Africa’s Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water lake.
  • Uganda and Kenya both lay claim to the island and are in a dispute over its sovereignty.
  • Fishing families from both countries live peacefully side-by-side here, nonetheless.
  • The islanders are sometimes threatened by local pirates, who rob and kill their victims.
  • Despite being half the size of a football pitch, Migingo boasts a restaurant, a pharmacy, brothels and a hotel.
  • There are two bigger and completely uninhabited islands nearby, but they are rumoured to be haunted.
  • The locals are friendly and eager to share their memories of life on the island.

Migingo is a small island in Lake Victoria, which is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. It is surrounded by three East African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Uganda and Kenya both claim sovereignty over the island, but while their governments argue over this tiny piece of land, fishing families from both countries live peacefully here together.
Life in Migingo revolves around the catch, which can vary depending on many factors.

Beyond nature, one of the main concerns of the islanders is local pirates, who’ve been known to rob and even kill their ill-fated victims.

Though the island is roughly half the size of a football pitch, it boasts a restaurant, a pharmacy with a doctor, and even a hotel.

Though there are two bigger and completely uninhabited islands nearby, they are rumoured to be haunted, so Migingo’s inhabitants continue to live in extremely cramped and squalid conditions.

Despite Migingo’s reputation as a dangerous, unwelcoming place, the locals are hospitable hosts who are eager to share their memories of life on the island and their opinions on its future.

For fascinating insight into the small island community and its people, check out Migingo: The Iron-clad Islandon RTD.