WITH an unemployment rate of close to 30% of the population that is of working age, few would disagree that finding gainful employment in Namibia without a unique set of skills is an arduous endeavour.
Despite this, there are individuals from different spheres of life who have sought to belie the notion that being without a recognised job, which usually comes in a 08h00 to 17h00 format, could spell economic doom. Martin Angula, a Swakopmund native, is one such individual.
Having lived in the coastal town all his life, Angula has a rich history of being employed by numerous companies for odd jobs. Despite his best wishes however, these jobs never translated into anything permanent for him. Four months ago, spurred on by the primal need to provide for himself and his family, the 36-year old father of two invested in a fishing rod and ventured into a market that many Namibians have found to be profitable; fishing.
Speaking to Prime Focus Magazine on a cold Saturday evening, Angula explains that while fishing may not be the most glamorous form of employment in the world, it is sufficient in sustaining his livelihood and ensuring his financial autonomy.
“I used to work for a few companies here and there but after some there was no job. I couldn’t just sit around and wait for a job to fall from heaven. That’s why I decided to get this [fishing rod] and start making something to buy food or whatever I need for myself and my family,” he says.
“I have two kids, a daughter who is four years old and a son who is eighteen. With what I make here, I can provide for what they need.”
Angula, who is one of the scores of men who swarm the Swakopmund Jetty on most evenings for the sole purpose of fishing, further explains that he is able to make as much as N$400 in a day.
“When I catch the fish, I sell them first to the people who are walking through the jetty either just as tourists or those coming from the Jetty [restaurant] and I make between N$300 to N$400 a day,” he adds.
“The fish I sell is fresh and comes straight from the sea, so that is the advantage I have over the shops that sell fish here. I don’t know if there are any shops here that can sell you fish that was in the water only a few minutes ago,” he jokes.
While fishing provides a livelihood for him, Angula explains that it is not without its challenges. Chief of which being the consistency in the availability of fish.
“Some days you come here and don’t catch as many fish as the day before and this is a problem because you can only sell what you catch. If you only catch five today then there is nothing you can do but it is very important not to be discourage[d]. It can happen that today you only catch 5 but tomorrow you catch 30 or 40.”
According to the fisherman, the presence of his peers on the jetty also provides a small challenge because clients will not buy from everyone but rather the individual with the best fish, therefore if there are others who come to the jetty to fish and sell what they catch there, it will provide competition for him. He however sees this as more of an occupational hazard rather than an actual challenge. He also explains that the majority of those who go to the Jetty in the evening to fish often do so for consumption rather than to sell there as he does.
Although his current earnings from fishing are adequate for his financial needs, Angula tells Prime Focus Magazine that he would like to expand his operations with time and move away from the Jetty. For now, he takes pride in not being dependant on anybody to put food on the table for him and his two children. He further states that there is no job he can get with his limited set of skills and qualifications that would allow him to earn more than he is currently making from fishing.