The story has been told of Tina, the Nigerian keke operator from Southern Kaduna.
Standing tall, bold and soft spoken, Tina is best described as a straight talker with a strong personality that transcends the ordinary notion of feminism.
Her venturing into a predominantly male vocation, therefore, presents to the world a heart-warming story of changing roles and perception in a gender sensitive environment like Southern Kaduna.
Our reporter, who meet Tina in her village, Madakiya in Bajju Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, reports that the female tricyclist, popularly known as ‘One Chance’, started the job in early 2020.
Telling her story in a matter-of-factly mood, Tina joyfully revealed that she is proud of the decision she made in choosing what majority see as a male-dominated profession.
“When I looked around and saw how males are running hotels and restaurants, cooking and serving customers in female-dominated ventures, I asked myself ‘why can’t I try something that people think will be difficult for women to choose as a career’? So, I decided to be a commercial tricyclist so as to be a role model for our beautiful ladies in southern Kaduna,” she revealed.
She said she started her business with operating a ladies hair salon but quit the job for driving Keke which she said is more lucrative than salon business.
Nevertheless, she’s now an example of the emerging class of independent Southern Kaduna ladies as she now supports herself and her family with the earnings she makes plying Madakiya – Kafanchan route.
Tina (aka One Chance) is not new to those plying Madakiya-Kafanchan, Kafanchan-Ungwan Rimi, Madakiya-Zonkwa routes and other neighbouring communities. However, Keke Napep riders are usually male, and the job is considered to be strenuous.
How she got into Keke business
As a typical southern Kaduna native, Tina grew up to became a farmer, helping her parents in small-scale farming as their major source of living.
“I am from a poor home. I decided to go into the business when I realised that life was becoming more difficult, especially for the low class. Sometimes in 2020, I received a call from the incumbent council chairman of Zangon Kataf that a politician and philanthropist, Sunday Marshal Katung, gave out some tricycles as part of his youth and women empowerment project. That was how I got the Keke and started conveying passengers from one place to another.
“We went to Jos in Plateau State to bring the tricycle and it took me less than two hours, thirty minutes to ride the tricycle from Jos to Kafanchan. Two days later, I started carrying passengers, mostly women from Madakiya to Kafanchan. This was how I started operating by myself without anybody teaching me because I used to ride motorcycle before,” she added.
She said rather than staying idle, when there’s the responsibility of taking care of her younger one and an aged mother, she is now supporting them without much ado, courtesy of driving Keke Napep.
Tina, 44, mother of a baby girl, told our reporter that she is very fond of her business and appreciated Marshall Katung, who empowered her with the tricycle, which she operates by herself.
How it feels to operate in a male-dominated career
Tina said she doesn’t feel different working alongside male colleagues.
“Like men, I am working to earn a living and solve my financial problems and that of my family too, so I don’t feel different. I am working and the men are working too. My male colleagues always crack jokes whenever I pass because people now patronise me more because I am the only female in this job from the zone. I want more women to join this work because it’s better than staying idle and waiting for your parents, husbands, brothers and other people to help you. Don’t depend on anybody, go out and make a living in a legitimate way, that is my call to the women, especially the young ladies.”
She said her days are filled with interesting scenarios as men and women scramble to board her vehicle.
The attention Tina Madakiya got when she began riding around town was something she will never forget in a hurry. The people praised her courage and determination.
Presently, she make about N5, 000 a day driving passengers around Kafanchan and other communities like Abet, Ayagan, Kagoro, Ungwan Rimi and Madakiya which cut across three local government areas of Kaura, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf.
Apart from operating Keke, Tina has other responsibilities to shoulder at home, like preparing food and other domestic activities for her mother and child. “I work for 3 to 4 hours everyday and go back home to cook for my mother and daughter when she’s back from school,” She added.
“I am now taking good care of my mother – all her medications and my daughter’s school fees. I also expanded the ginger farming I am into from a small piece of land to a hectare. We were really suffering before I started this job, The farming was not stable because of the hike in prices of fertilizer and insecticides. But through driving Keke Napep, I can now buy enough fertilizer for farming, pay labourers and buy other farming materials without sweat.”
She said many ladies are motivated by her determination but complain about how they would acquire Keke Napep if they learn how to drive.
“I told them that whoever is ready to go into Keke driving, I will be willing to teach her for free, but nobody has come. Some who are interested told me that they don’t have the means or anyone to buy the vehicles for them even if they learn how to drive but I told them that whatever you learn or any skill you acquire remains in you. Chance and opportunity can come to your doorstep at anytime.”
She noted that she hardly faces any real challenge, and that people are always happy seeing her driving the tricycle.
“I am not expected to pay back any amount of money to anybody because I am the owner of the tricycle.
“There is nothing to be ashamed of in what I am doing. It is all about the determination and passion. We have to support and take care of our families,” she stressed.
She said many people, including women, have finished universities and colleges with various kind of certificates but are idle.
“Government cannot provide its graduates with jobs. It’s better for us to choose a career or businesses and be self employed. Because of the economic hardship we are facing in Nigeria, entrepreneurship is the answer. I am calling on youths and women to acquire one or more types of skill than waiting for someone to help you or waiting for government’s job. I don’t have any certificate but I am self-employed and proud of it.”
Tina added that women groups like Zumuntan Mata and others are patronising her business by always booking her to and from places of worship in Kafanchan, Madakiya and others.
“Let me use this opportunity also to call on the government to create skill acquisition centres in every local government area and also equip the beneficiaries with the materials needed for their work. Also, government should provide subsidised fertilizers for farmers and soft loans for small scale business men and women.”
When our reporter visited her home in Madakiya, her 75-year-old mother, Monica Patrick, said she was very proud of her daughter.
“Seeing my daughter driving Keke Napep evokes past memories of when I was the only female bicycle rider in our community, even before I gave birth to Tina. I was then the women leader of Banye Batadon – a clan of Bajju tribe, and used to ride my bicycle to meetings and ceremonies within our locality.”
Source: Daily Trust
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