Azhar Vadi – Cii News – August 2, 2012
People living along the banks of Lake Malawi in the area of Mangochi are experiencing tough times. Late seasonal rains have seen a poor crop harvested this year.
88-year-old Sheikh Muhammad said this Ramadan they are struggling to make ends meet but are managing to live on the stock of rice in their possession.
“The rains have been late this year, so we are suffering.”
With support from his son employed in South Africa as a Muaddhin or one who calls Muslims to prayer, the Sheikh manages to look after a huge family ranging from new born babies to himself closing in on his ninetieth year. “All praise be to Allah, we are 22 in number but we are managing.”
Sheikh Muhammed himself was a Muaddhin in South Africa and retired from the noble profession two years ago. For over twenty he had called the faithful to prayer in various Masaajid (mosques) of Johannesburg. In the area of Lenasia he was renowned for his strength, even in his old age, as well as his nightly vigil or Tahajjud prayer. Anybody in need would readily go up to him with their problems, imploring him to beseech Allah for solutions and help.
His return to his village has presented him with enormous tests in the twilight of his life; tests that many others would have failed. It seems Sheikh Muhammad’s relationship and deep rooted faith in Allah has kept him going because there is very little of anything else.
“This Ramadan we are cooking rice and mixing it with some maize porridge,” he said humbly while expressing his gratitude to Allah.
The late rain this year is without doubt an act of God, but this seasonal phenomenon has be severely compound by the greed of man leaving a large source of their protein supplies depleted. Previously a wealth of nutrition existed just a few meters in front of Sheikh Muhammad’s home. Lake Malawi, is home to between 500-1000 species of fish and provides over 60% of the animal protein dietary intake of Malawians and over 40% of the total protein supply of vulnerable poor households.
But where there’s a need there’s money to be made and large commercial fisheries have decimated the waters in the Mangochi area. The traditional fishing methods and small wooden boats are no match for the motorised craft and large drag nets. What was once a free commodity readily available with just a little bit of effort has now turned into a canned and packaged product on sale at large retail outlets.
“These days we don’t catch fish here,” said Sheikh Muhammad. “There are only small ones here. The big fish have all been taken out or maybe they have gone to the other side. The boats make them very scared.”
Sheikh Muhammad refused to give Cii permission to publish his real name. “I don’t want people to think I am begging. We make sabr. We have have patience. Allah will look after us.”
Tags: Fishing, Malawi, Mangochi