In Memeh village in the North Bank Region, Saidou Cham, a 63-year-old fisherman arranges his fish on the floor under a mango tree waiting for buyers.
For him, fishing is a family legacy he inherited from his father. “I started fishing when I was very young,” he says. My grandparents were fishermen. My father was a fisherman, and it was natural for me as a kid to put my heart to fishing to keep the family legacy going.”
Saidou was still a rookie fisherman when his father died. His turned to his brother, Edrisa for mentorship and to improve his skills in fishing, in the absence of his father.
“I remember always following him to catch fish. He showed me how to do it. He’d often push me to the limits just so I could learn fast, and I did. I’ll always be indebted to him.”
Today fishing is more than just a legacy for Saidou. It’s his only source of income to cater for himself and his family of 12.
“No one in my family has formal job. We all live on fishing.”
On a good day, he makes up to D3000. But he can also go home with much less when he catches less fish. As a result of the inconsistency in the catch, Saidou has another plan; he wants to educate some of his 12 children to give them better lives.
“I’m proud that I am keeping the family legacy going. But I realised that I must educate the kids so they won’t struggle like I’m doing. I’m able to send three of them to school.”
Among the three children is Ebrima, who goes to Memeh Primary School on week days and helps his father out to sell fish.
“I have to help my father because the money he makes goes to my education. So by helping him I feel I’m working to pay my own school fees.”
“My goal is to become a successful businessman and help my family, especially my father. He works hard to keep us in school and put food on the table. I want to make him proud,” Ebrima says, looking into father’s eyes, giggling.
When Saidou is not fishing, he’s listening to Ebrima either read his school books or narrate daily school events. He’s now inspired to send more kids to school.
“Fishing will always be part of me and my family, but I also want my children to be known for their education. The two can always go together. When the kids are educated and have good jobs, they can always fish even for a hobby,” he says.