Migingo is a tiny 2,000-square-metre (0.49-acre; 0.20-hectare) island, about half the size of a football pitch, in Lake Victoria. (–Wikipedia).
In 1991, two Kenyan fishermen, Dalmas Tembo and George Kibebe, gathered their courage and some 600 lb of fish. With that, they went to the sorcerer known for his powers of fending off evil spirits. Tembo and Kibebe needed help. Extremely unfriendly spirit Calella made Migingo island his home. The sorcerer performed his magic and evicted the evil spirit.
Calella was gone for good, and the two entrepreneurial fishermen became Migingo’s first inhabitants. Covered by weeds and infested with snakes, Migingo was no heaven on earth, but Tembo and Kibele prospered. In 2004 they were joined by Joseph Nsubuga, a Ugandan fisherman, and a few more people. The commune where, hopefully, there would be no inequality and evil, was born.
Communal life is run by the two “honorary senators”, its founding fathers and first settlers, Tembo and Kibebe, as well as five elected senators, men older than 30. Simple majority is needed to decide communal affairs.
By 2009, the population of Migingo grew to 131, and then the honorable senators decided not to accept any more members into the commune.
The maximum penalty for transgressions and misdeeds is expulsion from the island. Most common punishment is spanking with thatched whips. Twenty years into the state’s existence, only six people were banished from the island, all of them for theft.
Since the time Migingo became inhabited, both Kenya and Uganda has been claiming its territory. Ugandan and Kenyan police have occupied the island 9 times in armed conflicts. The Coast Guard of Kenya and Uganda kept sinking Migingo’s fishing boats, tearing their nets. 6 Migingo settlers were fatally shot. Later on, however, Kenya and Uganda agreed that Migingo commune has to pay taxes to both countries, and the islanders consented.
The main source of community’s livelihood is fishing for Nile perch. Average fisherman family can earn up to $200-250 per week — nearly as much as people of the neighboring countries make in 2 or 3 months. 60% of these earnings is withheld for taxes (25% to Kenya, another 25% to Uganda and 10% to support the needs of the island and its not-too-numerous defense forces.
There are five bars, a beauty salon, pharmacy, as well as several hotels and even four brothels on the island. Obviously, Migingo is a welcoming place. Still, under the laws of the commune, visitors cannot stay on the island for more than one day.
Some 200 meters from Migingo there is another island, Usingen. Larger and greener than Migingo, it’s still uninhabited, despite the Migingo’s terrible overcrowding. Why? Bacause evil spirit named Tuck lives there, along with vengeful Calella, who allegedly resettled to Usingen since his inglorious banishment from Migingo.
There is an ongoing search for a mighty sorcerer to overpower Tuck and Calella — the commune desperately needs living space. Thus far, no such sorcerer came forward.
Usingen, too, is a disputed territory. However, neither Kenyan nor Ugandan military risks occupying the island, fearful of mean-spirited Tuck and vengeful Calella. Only a few foreign biologists, studying Lake Victoria and its inhabitants, visit Usingen island, staying in a dismal temporary quarters.