‘Dad taught me life skills’

“The ocean is beautiful beyond compare, but it also requires respect. It is important to keep that balance”

Juhi Sanam Maharaj

Published Feb 23, 2024

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Juhi Sanam Maharaj is making waves on social media with her TikTok videos showing off her fishing and wilderness survival skills.

In the videos, she lights up a fire; shucks mussels with a knife; catches, scales and guts fish; and catches and cleans crabs, sea lice, crayfish and prawns.

Maharaj, 25, from Port Shepstone, also collects rock bait, braais, and gardens.

“When I was in Grade 1, we lived in Umzinto and almost every weekend we used to drive to the beach in Port Shepstone. We loved the place and nothing compared to the beaches on the South Coast. We later moved to the area when I was six and got a home within walking distance of the beach.”

Maharaj said she loved the ocean because it sustains life.

“There is a balance that exists between all things in the ocean; the water, the rocks, the algae, the creatures and even the fishermen. I have been around fishermen all my life and learnt that the ocean is beautiful beyond compare, but it also requires respect. It is important to keep that balance.”

Juhi Sanam Maharaj enjoying mussels on the beach

She said her dad, Rajen Maharaj, taught her everything she knew.

“He is my teacher, my mentor, my best friend and my biggest inspiration. Growing up, I didn't realise how much knowledge I was picking up from him. I just enjoyed spending time with him, so I joined in on everything he did; from gardening and fishing to construction and car repairs.

“Through the years, he taught me useful skills and now I know why. I am a 25-year-old girl and completely independent. I can bait the hook, catch the fish, and clean and cook it with my eyes closed. I can check oil, water, tyre pressure and change the tyre of any vehicle. My dad taught me to think on my feet and use common sense no matter the situation. He prepared me for life.”

Maharaj said she used her skills almost daily.

Making a fire.

Speaking on a typical day with her dad, she said: “The first thing we consume in the morning is a ground mixture of turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli and moringa followed by fruit and yoghurt. Then we head to the beach at around 4.30am for a walk and our daily exercise. My dad also fishes during this time and I clean his catch. Sundays are for finding mussels at the beach."

Maharaj said once she returned home, she watered the garden and checked on her pets - three dogs, a kitten and a dove - before showering and dolling-up.

“Lunch is usually always fish in my house, so I marinade what my dad caught and fry that up for lunch. Once the work day ends, mum and I go for a swim, or I catch up with her in the kitchen while she cooks. We then watch some television while we eat. And lastly, I check on all my pets before I go to bed.”

Maharaj said she also worked hard at keeping the beaches clean.

“The worsening pollution in our ocean has unfortunately fallen under the category of 'out of sight, out of mind'. Every day that I am at the beach, I find reminders of the terrible effect we can have on this ecosystem.

"We often collect trash from the shoreline or dig plastic out of the rock pools, especially during the holidays. However, if you are not a frequent visitor, you may not realise that the trash you leave today has a lasting impact.”

Maharai said her aim in making the videos was to create awareness about the importance of a clean and safe ocean.

“In my videos, I highlight the many ways we can benefit from the ocean’s sustainably. I want people to remember me eating raw mussels on the rocks, so that the next time they think of tossing in a packet or a cup, they will hopefully think twice, so that they can also enjoy everything our ocean has to offer. We all need to play our part.”

When she is not at the beach, Maharaj is working on opening her own beauty salon in Port Shepstone, which will be called House of Beauty.

Maharaj’s videos can be found on TikTok under the account @juhisanammaharaj

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