‘Instead of me to enter street dey do prostitution, make I use the Keke take console myself’
•49-year-old mother-of-five, who rides tricycle, tells her story
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.”
Do you feel shame while doing this job?
The more you curse me ehnn, the more I dey gather heart. How I go shame to find money chop?
What challenges are you facing in the Keke business?
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 won spoil, na one month e dey spoil. When the Keke good, if I come outside maybe 12:00 noon, I go don work 3,000 then at the end of the day, if na the day wey I go all those village market, I dey get like 6,000 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 them “hire killers.” Those “hire killers,” dey can kill and run and you no go see their back.
What’s your advice to women who have taken to begging and prostitution?
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 working, them dey miss something. E good make woman dey work. Nothing like when you work for your own money.
There’s this micro finance bank that buys keke for interested people. Can’t you approach them?
I get am oo, but na to get person wey go sign for me. Na like N75,000 them go collect in advance to take carry am for you. When them don sign am for you, you go dey balance them N3,000 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 naim I take dey follow up so far say I no go beg and I no go inside street go sell my body.
Between the food business and the keke business, which one is more lucrative?
Aaah Keke good! Na Keke good; 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 N7,000.
Why have you not gone to change the engine?
You know as we human beings dey think, instead to go change engine, wey be N260,000, why you no just gather money add take buy new one? New Keke now na almost about N670, 000.
Are your children proud of what you are doing?
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.
What is your advice to young girls and women that are into prostitution?
Prostitution no bi 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 no bi all. 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 as her husband. This Keke do 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.
How do you cope with ticketing issue by keke union?
When I first start, I dey buy ticket. Na N200 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. If them see me for road, dey no dey talk. They go just say ‘madam go go women no dey buy tickets.’ Sometimes, if all these agberos wey dey dey where we take dey load passengers won 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 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.”
How can the government help you?
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 watin 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 try 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.
Have you trained any girl to ride keke?
The girl wey I dey try teach before now don get belle.
How is the keke job affecting your health?
No no e no dey affect my health at all. Like the day wey I no work, I dey feel pain, if I no go work, na that day I dey tire pass; but if I go work, I dey dey okay. If I dey wake 5:00a.m, if I no go work, I go wake 6:00a.m.
What is your qualification?
(Laughs) I go school, but I no know book na him I stop.