Warri – Gone are the days when women were made to take the back seat in the society ; be it in politics , business vocation or administration .
These days, women are bracing up to the challenges and breaking the cultural stereotype that had hitherto boxed them in to believing that they were only meant to play the second fiddle in the scheme of things.
The story of Rachael Essin , a tricycle ( also known as keke)operator in Warri , Delta State, is quite an inspiring one as she claims that, the tauting from her male colleagues is like the ‘oil in her wheels’ which makes her more tenacious in “keke business. She says she is also willing to help other women restore the dignity of their womanhood through training and taking them off the streets. After all, there is a popular saying that what a man can do, women can do it even better!
Here is her interview with our reporter, BETTY IDIALU.
Reporter: What’s your name?
Rachael: Raches Essin, I was born May 1970.
Reporter : Are you married?
Rachael :Abeg leave that one. Na that thing make me carry Keke.
Reporter : How many children do you have?
Rachael : Five children. Three boys, two girls. The eldest na 23 years now and the last born na 8 years. My senior girl don finish secondary school but she never enter university.
Reporter : Are they with you?
Rachael : No, them dey with their father, e no gree to release the children. So, sometimes I dey go see them, I dey give them some kind things take dey support their father. Like for Christmas time, I go call my senior girl make she come collect some kind things wey dey fit take add for the Christmas. You know as a good mother, I must support na I no fit leave everything for their papa
Reporter : How many of them you dey pay their school fees?
Rachae : Na me and their papa dey pay the school fees , na three of them dey school.
Reporter : Why are you doing Keke job?
Rachael : I look am like say , I fit do am. Before I carry the keke, I dey cook food dey sell. Along the line when I dey cook, something happened in my marriage. So I dey into one meeting by then. When the thing happen for my marriage house, I look am, well , I still dey manage the food business but finally, I con comot from the house.
When I comot, I come look am say wetin I go do? Instead of me to enter street dey do prostitution, make I use the Keke take console myself. I dey call the Keke ‘Ogheneruemu’ meaning ‘God does wonders, he can make good things happen all the time.
Reporter : Why did you give it that name?
Rachael : The time wey me and my husband get problem, I dey think well well I dey always dey dey moody. Things wey I think say I no go fit do, I dey do am. I come dey take the Keke dey console myself. So e dey make me no dey think too much. Wetin I think say I no go fit do, God use the Keke take do am. So e dey take me out of thinking. Although the keke dey give me tough time at times, I enjoy riding it.
Reporter : How did you a get the Keke?
Rachael : Na Lapo people buy am for me; I dey pay small small. I dey save dey take from them before so they say they wan buy Keke for women, I show my interest so na like that I take get the Keke. They buy am for me for about 420,000.
Reporter : So how much have you paid from the money ?
Rachael : Well na three years I don dey ride the Keke now and I finish payment the first year wey I carry the keke, that is I pay the money within one year. The Keke dey give me heat, sometimes e dey spoil. Well na of recent na e no dey spoil like before again and I dey plan to sell am if I go see person wey go buy new one for me, I go happy.
Reporter : Before you started riding Keke, were you driving a car ?
Racharel : No, I never drive motor once. As dem dey go buy Keke give women, I come see one woman she dey Hausa quarter there, she dey ride Keke too. I see am for my junction that time I dey stay Ovwian. So as I see that woman dey ride Keke. Na I say if that woman fit ride Keke that means me sef fit ride Keke. Though norbi she teach me how to ride, na one elderly man teach me.
Reporter : Keke business is mostly seen as job for men , how do you cope?
Rachael : E no easy oo like one park for Otokutu wey we take dey load . Men dey insult me well well. Some go tease me say , “come on , comot from the road! You no see tomatoes sell, wetin men dey do na you wan do. (Laughing)Me go return give them say “you no know say your age dey offshore and oil company work? Na Keke be the highest? so I dey make sure say, I dey challenge them back .if they tease me like that and the teasing so dey make my heart strong. Some men go say Aaah madam your eye strong oo.
Reporter : When is your resumption time every day?
Rachael : Sometimes I dey comot from house to 6am in the morning my closing hour no get time unless them say make Keke no move by 10pm. So sometimes I dey work enter night well well. When I go rest for that kind evening time, by night I go enter road again. For security reasons, na God dey save person oo. I dey Carry ”the boys” na… wey I carry them, but I never get any ugly incident with them once. na them go dey tell me say “mama do make you dey go house oo night don reach oo” I go say you know na…na wetin mama go chop na she dey fine oo”
Reporter : In this business , especially when men harass you sometimes, do you feel ashamed?
Rachael : The more you tease me ehnn the more I dey gather heart.
Reporter : What are the challenges in the Keke business?
Rachael : Keke business ehnn nobi say e no good e good when the Keke dey new but when e don dey old, e go dey give heat. Sometimes wey the Keke wan spoil, so na one month na e dey spoil. When the Keke good , if I come outside maybe 12noon I go don work #3,000(Three thousand Naira) then at the end of the day if na the day wey I go all those village market, I dey get like #6,000(Six Thousand naira), when I comot my fuel money, through out that day e go com be 4,500 wey I work that day. When the Keke dey get small problem, I no dey drive am for night because of those trailers, we dey call then “hire killers”. Those “hire killers”, dey can kill and run and you no go see their back.
Reporter : What is your advice to those women who take as a means of livelihood?
Rachael : My advice for them be say
make them look for something to do. And if them no get opportunity, make dem find opportunity from person wey go teach them how to do one work or the other. Like this kind time last year, my right hand pain me Dem say na whitlow dey do am dey nearly cut am comot. But the pain no go completely before I use take start the Keke again. If I no dey do anything I dey always dey think. Though the hand dey pain me, I no use am as excuse to lazy. Like all those women wey well wey prefer begging to work, them dey miss something. E good make woman dey work. Nothing like when you work for your own money.I dey go Four Square Church. You see this God ehnn na very wonderful God . Na only him I put my trust. If I call am anytime, he dey answer me. I be from Ujewve Ughelli South Local Government Area but na Ekrokpe I dey stay before Etakprame after Usiefferun. So that time my Keke spoil I com go meet one of my friends make she borrow me #3,500 to take repair am say I go pay her back. When I reach there, they say he dey sleep say he never wake so I sit down dey wait for her. As she come out side na the pikin come tell her say “sister Rachel come before oo” she say her Keke spoil oo .Dem no know say I dey hear, na she com say whether her house na mechanic workshop?
The thing pain me so the small money wey I get at hand that day, na I manage to repair the Keke. So e no get day wey the Keke go spoil again wey I go go meet somebody I no go try am because begging dey bring insult.
As Keke drivers ,you dey comot every day, people dem dey think say you dey get money but nobi every time the road dey sell.
Reporter : Are you hoping to get more assistance from Wetland like getting a new Keke for you?
Rachael : I get that hope oo… but na to get person (Guarrantor) wey go sign for me. Na like #75,000 dey go collect in advance to take carry am give you. When dem don sign am for you, you go dey balance them #3,000 everyday working days or no working days until you go pay the money finish. I Never get who go sign for me. Na the one wey I get now na I take dey follow up; so far say, I no go beg and I no go inside street go sell myself.
Reporter : This Keke and that food business which one do you think is better?
Rachael : Aaah Keke good na …Keke good if na …if na new Keke dey my hand, I know how much I go get because that one your own na just to change oil, grease the engine but this one, we dey buy parts. If I go workshop sometimes I dey spend reach #7,000.
Reporter : Why you don’t just change the engine?
Rachael : You know say we human beings, you know the way we dey think instead to go change engine, wey be 260,000, why you no just gather money add take buy new one new Keke now na almost about #670,000.
Reporter : Are your children proud of what you are doing?
Rachael : If you ask them, some dey say my mummy dey drive Keke. Then the girl dey always tell me say make I do make I stop am because e too strong. She dey vex for me before but we don dey okay now.
Reporter : What is your advice to girls and women that are prostituting around?
Rachael : Prostitution nobi work .Make dem look for something to do. Prostitution na very bad something. Girls wey dey do am dey kill their body Who dey make ‘ashawo’ no dey last .She fit use the ashawo work take build house oo but she no go fit enjoy the house!
Moreover where your mate stand dey talk you no go fit talk. When them dey talk say what men can do women can do, I dey tell them say norbi for all cases o. Man na man woman na woman. Man can have more than six wives and he be proud to introduce them in a gathering but a woman can never take two men to a gathering to introduce them as her husbands?
This Keke don help me overcome many emotional challenges well well like one time wey I lost one woman wey dey very dear to me, na this Keke help me overcome the grief.
Reporter : What about your siblings?
Them dey na …dem dey try to make ends meet too na.
Reporter : How do you cope with ticket issue?
Rachael : When I first start na I take dey buy ticket .; a #200 them dey sell am after sometimes I just decide not to dey buy again. How much I dey work sef? So na so I stop to buy tickets. So, if them see me for road dey no dey talk , if them see me, they go just say madam go, go women no dey buy tickets. Sometimes if all these ‘agberos’ wey dey where we take dey load passengers wan talk, I dey follow them dey hold ground. Them go say madam bring your own com, me go say bring wetin ? come, come Carry the Keke drive reach Orhuvworun Junction reach there make you bring am come back come give me, abi your mate no dey ride Keke? I go tell them say, “if I be your wife I go make sure say your knicker pull comot from your waist” .
Reporter : What do you think government can do for you?
Rachael : Government can change my keke to new keke or buy me bus. I get dream say as time goes on I go get motor and get more keke. I even like to get many Keke wey I go dey give to people wey no get wetin them dey do so that they go dey balance me. I go teach them how to ride am well so that they go fit get something wey go dey fetch them money. Government sef fit put Keke for my care make I dey help them dey manage them. The way I dey see those girls wey dey do prostitution dem dey die innocently .Government fit use the keke take empower young woman through me. I personally go train them how to ride am.
Reporter : Who you have you groomed now?
Rachael : The girl wey I dey try teach before now , don get Belle.
Reporter : What can you fix in your Keke by yourself?
Rachael : If my Keke off now, I go look whether enough fuel dey inside. Sometimes na the plug wey dry, dey make am dey stop. if na new Keke, e hard for plug to dry just like that. Keke wey dey smoke and the one wey dey do over float I dey fit dey check those things for keke sometimes, I dey change my tyre that time wey the whitlow do this my left hand finger, I no con fit dey use am dey do anything so na my left hand I dey use take dey loose the tyre if I wan change am. I no dey fit dey carry the Keke , if the tyre leak I dey try but I look am say I be woman, make my womb no shift, so , na men I dey beg make them help me lift am.
Reporter : How do you rest ? Is the job affecting you health?
Rachael : No no e no dey affect my health at all. Like the day wey I no work, I dey feel body pain, if I no go work na that day I dey tire pass but if I go I drive, I dey dey okay. If I wan go work,I dey wake 5:00am ,if I no go work, I go wake 6:00am.
Reporter : What is your educational qualifications?
Rachael :I go school .I no know book na I stop.
Reporter: It’s been nice talking with you.
Rachael: Thank you my, sister!