The fisherman

The father's story
Fisherman Antonio  Momade Jamal, 50, has lived in Moma in Nampula Province on the east coast of Mozambique all his life. He started fishing in 1985. He had hoped to keep his daughter Filomena in school but when catches started to fall, he could no longer support her. He accepted MT 2,000 ($33) to marry her off at the age of just 15 on the understanding that her  husband Momade Churute, who was 21 at the time, continue to support her through school.

“My name is Antonio Momade Jamal, I am 50 years old. I was born here in this district and I started to fish in 1985.

“When I started I used to get a lot of fish, much more than today. I keep fishing now, but it’s different. The weather changed.

“I used to fish with a group, we were using nets. And in a normal day, we managed to get about 10 bags of fish.

“I remember that in the 1990s, the quantity of fish started to decrease.

“In my opinion, the production decrease is connected with the weather. The climate changed. I see that it is much hotter than in the past years.

“There’s a difference. I saw the difference in the kind of fish we catch. In that time we used to catch big fish, one called bagre or another one that is a kind of shark. There were also the little ones called papa, and we used to catch a lot of them. Now we just catch small ones in less quantities. It’s a different kind of fish.

“At that time when we used to catch some big fish, the buyers used to come from the city, from Nampula, to collect them. But now, we don’t have those anymore, and they don’t come anymore. So we need to find a way to travel to the city to sell our fish. So our business changed. And the poverty continues.

“We see that it’s too hot. We talk about that and we all agree that it’s difficult to catch enough fish because of these high temperatures.

“Fish is something natural, we don’t believe that we killed them all. Maybe it’s that. But we don’t think so.

“We have tried to move to other places to find fish there, but even in those areas we can’t find anything. I know people who moved to Beira hoping that they would manage to get more fish, but even there it’s difficult.

“In the areas where we used to go, the sea level is rising and the waves are much stronger.

“On our way to go to the place where we used to fish, there was a big tree. And today, that tree is not there anymore. And the water there is deeper.

“When Momade came to ask for my daughter’s hand I didn’t want her to marry. Not only him, but no other guy because she wasn’t mature enough to get married.

“But I accepted, thinking that he would help her study. I said ‘OK, you can marry my daughter but you need to support her so that she continues going to school’. I saw an opportunity. And he promised he would.
“But he is facing the same struggles as I am. And every time the school year starts, we have to make a plan together to support her.

“I was thinking that my daughter would get married after 25, after going to school, finishing college, so that she would get a job and support her family and also help me, because I am getting old.

“I’ve seen other neighbours who, because they are struggling, let their daughters get married. I have five other kids who go to secondary school. I have two other  daughters, one of 13, another of 11. If a man came to ask for their hand, I would think about it, I would consider it. This man could help me support not only my daughter, but also help my other kids continue their education.”

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