Theresa John’s life went downhill with the collapse of her food company in the Iyaganku neighbourhood of Ibadan, Oyo State. She found that riding a keke, a type of tricycle, helped her deal with her new circumstances. She told our correspondent during the week that she had been riding the trike for almost a year on hire-purchase due to the country’s poor economic realities.
She said she didn’t care what others thought of her and that she ignored the prejudice she encountered since she was too busy looking out for herself.
She felt that it was not good for a woman to sit inactive without getting engaged with something in order to support her husband in running the family.
More than a year has passed since I first got on a keke. The current state of affairs in Nigeria inspired me to get things rolling again. Previously, I worked in business. I used to run a food stand in Iyaganku, but once I saw where things were headed, I knew I had to switch gears.
I financed the keke to suit my needs rather than worrying about what other people thought of the decision. My spouse was originally opposed, but as he saw the positive effects on the economy, he relaxed. It’s not simple for a woman to be a housewife and accomplish nothing in the world we now live in.
“And once more, the husband cannot be providing for his family on his own. So, after taking stock of the situation, he settled down. Even though she knew she would stop taking the keke one day, her husband constantly reminded her that she would. “Amen, I’ll leave it, but I’ll do it for some time before I quit,” she remarked.
Theresa stated she had suffered harassment from some guys because of her gender but she had always kept in mind her focus on why she started riding trike.
Because I am a woman, I have had many instances where people, especially alfas, refused to get into my keke. Stopping the keke, they saw the driver was a woman and immediately thought, “God forbid, I cannot enter a woman’s keke.”
Sometimes when I question their actions, they respond, “How could a woman possibly be driving a keke?” It’s because of the situation that we’ve begun riding; when the keke first arrived in Nigeria, very few people owned one, and even fewer women rode them. There was a question in her voice.
But while it’s pouring outside, nobody cares if a man or a woman is riding. So, when they walked in the door while it was raining, I shouted, “abeg this is a woman’s keke don’t enter oo,” and they insisted that they did not.
Some of them would remark, “Oh, never mind; we don’t have a say in this matter anyway.” She continued, “But once it rained, they’d remember right away that they shouldn’t ride in women’s keke.
She responded to a question on how she dealt with challenging situations by saying, “I have a jack because I cannot lift it like the men, so whenever my tyres are flat, I use the jack.”
Theresa noted that keke drivers are uncertain of their potential earnings due to the increased price of fuel.
But if I’m chartered and the trip is distant, I’ll stay open until 8 if necessary. At no other time will I be permitted to bike at night. “With the new cost of fuel, we cannot say this is how much money we can make per day,” she added. “Some days we make up to N10,000, and other days we make even less than N5,000.”
She has been in three accidents since she first started riding a tricycle, each one more terrifying than the last.
I’ve been in three accidents, but thank God I’m fine and my keke is too. My first mishap occurred when my brakes failed, and my second occurred in the Iyaganku area. The keke somersaulted when I tried to climb it. The third accident happened around Apata. I give thanks to God that neither I nor my keke were injured. She expressed her gratitude to God, “because all I had to do was switch out my side mirror.”
Children pray for maturity so they can relieve their mother of her “workload” and care for her independently as she works hard to support the family.
My kids have been asking God to help me get off the keke too. They insist that I pray for them to become mature and capable of caring for me. They told me there’s too much work for me to handle,” she explained.