Mrs Rachael Essin, a tricycle rider from Ujewve community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, plies her male-dominated trade in Warri. The mother of five, who told her story in Pidgin English, said she took to the trade ahead of food vending and prostitution after her marriage failed. She said her tricycle, which she nicknamed ‘Ogheneruemu’ (God does wonders), has been her source of consolation and income through which she supports the education of her children. In this interview by EBENEZER ADUROKIYA, she said government should train young girls and ease them out of the destructive trade of prostitution. Excerpts:
Are you married?
Abeg, leave that one. Na that thing make me carry Keke.
How many children do you have?
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.
Are they with you?
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.
How many of them you dey pay their school fees?
Na me and their papa dey pay the school fees. Na three of them dey school.
Why you dey do Keke job?
I look am like say I fit do am. Before I carry the keke, I dey cook food dey sell. Along the line 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 con 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 things happen all the time.
Why did you give the keke that name?
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 con 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.
How did you get the tricycle?
Na ‘lapo’ people buy am for me; I dey pay small small. I dey save dey take from them before, so they say they won buy Keke for women I show my interest so na like that I take get the Keke. They buy am for me for about N420,000.
So, how much have you paid out of the amount?
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 well, na of recent 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.
Were you good at driving before you began riding keke?
No, I never drive motor once as dem they dey go buy keke give women, I con see one woman, she dey Hausa Quarters 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 naim I say if that woman fit ride Keke, that means me sef fit ride Keke. Though nobi she teach me how to ride, na one elderly man teach me.
Keke business na mostly men dey do am, how you take dey cope?
E no easy oo, like one park for Otokutu wey we take dey load, men dey insult me well well. Some go say “come on, comot from the road you no see tomatoes sell wetin men dey do na him you won do,” me go return give them say “you no know say your age dey offshore? Na Keke be the highest.” So I dey make sure say I dey challenge them back if they taunt me. Some men go say ‘Aaah madam your eye strong oo.’
When do you resume work for the day?
Sometimes I dey comot from house to six in the morning; my closing hour no get time unless them say make Keke no move by 10p.m. So, sometimes I dey work enter night well, For security reasons, na God dey save person oo. But I never get any ugly incident with the ‘boys’ 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 naim she dey fine oo.”