In Bokoré, Tanda, in the Eastern part of Cote D’Ivoire, consumption of catfish is strictly forbidden.
According to a village myth, the catfish are actually men appearing in animal form to protect of the town. It is even said that simple consumption can lead to serious health problems (deafness – kidney failure, etc.) up to death. This instils fear in residents who stay clear of the fish.
Historian Romain Ebrin, however says while the beliefs do not have scientific backing, consumption of catfish may be dangerous. According to Ebrin, Catfish readily feed on sediments and are likely to live for a long time in polluted water. Catfish is therefore recognized as a bio accumulator, and due to its propensity to bio concentrate heavy metals, certain metalloids or poorly biodegradable pollutants such as PCBs, furans or dioxins can result in respiratory diseases of it is consumed.
With the belief that the catfish are sacred and must not be consumed, the site in Bokoré, Tanda has been turned into a tourist spot in the northeast of the country.
Ivory Coast tourism industry has developed significantly since the early 1970s. Tourism constitutes a significant proportion of incomes generated for the economy of the country.
François M'BRA II