The aim of this paper is to describe and characterize the swamp fishing in the Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia, and contrast it with other human activities for livelihood such as hunting, gathering, pastoralism and agriculture.
The swamp fishermen migrate to the swamps from their home villages outside the swamps in the dry season when the water level decreases. They choose their camping site in the swamps and make a temporary hut. The fishermen in a camp form nsanga
, the production unit for fishing and selling their catch, which is formed through their kinship relationships.
The fish catch by the several commercial fishing methods are analysed after the fishing methods are outlined. As a result of the analysis, it is indicated that each production unit aims to catch a particular group of fish, such as Mormyridae
fish, and each unit chooses a fishing method by which the target fish can be caught effectively.
The types of fishing activity among the fishermen are divided into three classes in terms of their fishing seasons and methods, and it is clarified how the swamp area is utilized actually by the several ethnic groups from different areas. These three types of fishing differ from each other as to how far their villages are from the swamps and what time schedule of agriculture is made which limits the season or the period of fishing in the swamps. The fishermen of the Bangweulu Swamps are engaged in the swamp fishing for themselves in spite of the fact they depend upon the products from their cultivation in their subsistence economy.
In the last part of this paper, it is discussed why the fishermen carry on fishing for themselves without making symbiotic relationships with other fishing specialists. They can get a good cash income by selling the catch, which urge them on fishing, and the fish meat offers much appeal to them, for they do not have a lot of domestic animals, nor can so many animals be hunted around their home villages. Thus, it is concluded that the both subsistence activities, cultivation and fishing, are essential to the life of the swamp fishermen in the Bangweulu Swamps.