Sent to live on a remote island in the Tanzanian half of Lake Victoria, Mark Weston finds a community grappling with one of the world's great unknown environmental crises.
'You used to be able to stand on the beach and fish. In my father's time, you could catch them with your bare hands.'
Lake Victoria was once one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, but a predator released into its waters by East Africa's British colonisers has left a trail of destruction in its wake. The lives of millions of people have been upended, as a fateful confluence of overfishing, pollution and deforestation has triggered one of history's greatest mass extinctions.
On remote Ukerewe Island, Mark Weston finds out how local communities are responding to the crisis. He lives for two years alongside the families and fishermen hardest hit by the upheaval and gets to know the aid workers, sorcerers and holy men whose businesses are booming.
A captivating blend of travel writing and environmental reportage, The Saviour Fish paints an intimate picture of rural Tanzanian life, and of the human cost of biodiversity loss.
Mark Weston has written about and broadcast on Africa for BBC Radio 4, Slate, the Royal African Society, South Africa's Mail & Guardian, and Roads & Kingdoms. He is the author of the West Africa travelogue The Ringtone and the Drum and the satirical novel African Beauty, and his research on global issues has been published in some of the world's leading academic journals. He lives in London, UK.
"Mark Weston's book is a delight. From charming neighbourhood children to failing fish stocks, not forgetting the perfect recipe for banana beer, The Saviour Fish is a compelling account of life on a remote Tanzanian island, told by a writer who has his eyes wide open and his heart fully engaged."
– James Copnall, Presenter, Newsday, BBC World Service, and author of A Poisonous Thorn in our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan's Bitter and Incomplete Divorce
"Weston takes us with him on a remarkable journey, punctuated by well-drawn anecdotes and sharp observations and brought to life by his elegant description. The Saviour Fish is a charming, compelling exploration of Lake Victoria and its people."
– Simon Allison, Mail & Guardian
"An engaging story, bustling with the vibrancy of rural Tanzania and the economic, social, and ecological challenges that are shaping life on Lake Victoria."
– Nathan Hayes, Economist Intelligence Unit
"Weston's account of the disappearance of Lake Victoria's fish is both alarming and absorbing. The Saviour Fish is a wake-up call for the world as it burns through its biodiversity."
– David Steven, UN Foundation