The women are coming is a refarin that was first uttered to indicate previously male-dominated spaces were being taken over by the women. It also means women are rising and moving away from the traditional home-based jobs.
Hadijah Mukeshimana embodies both dedinitions with her job ferrying people across Kigali on her motorcycle.
A Thursday morning fi nds me at Kayonza District, outside the Kayonza main Bus Park. I spot Mukeshimana waiting for her next client. I approach her, say hi, and we get into a light conversation with her wondering jokingly I knew she is a woman.
"My sharp sense," I joke back. In a t-shirt, pair of jeans, headgear, and sports shoes, Mukeshimana blends with group easily.
Her confi dence, having done this job for the past 10 years, is evident. “I'm a motorcyclist, just like the rest, since I can deliver as they do,” she confisays.
Born 29 years ago in Kiramuruzi, Gatsibo District, Mukeshimana — the firstborn of six children— studied up to senior three in 2003, then took up some training in motor technology before enrollingat Eto Ecole, Kiramuruzi, and qualified in motorcycle riding.
But her family wasn't amused. “It seemed so queer for a Moslem girl to ferry passengers,” she says. “They were against it," she recalls.
Mukeshimana was by then a cyclist. She saved enough to pay for her course. "When I paid for my course, they started believing in me," she recounts.
In the middle of our interwiew, a woman approachs us and interjects. “Ufite umugenzi?” (Do you have a passenger?) She offers as a way of explanation that she prefers Mukeshimana to the rest because of her skill.
Mukeshimana recalls her first day at work as a motorcyclist at Kiramuruzi,. “I earned RFW7,000($7), which was much,” she exclaims.
She treats each day as a test she must pass because some clients choose her out of curiosity or to prove her capability.
“This job is my daily office, a powerful one which has uplied me,” she arms. She makes Rwf10,000 -Rwf15,000 ($10-$15) daily.
Her effort — Working daily from 4 am till 7 pm — has paid o and Mukeshimana has her own motorcycle, thanks to a loan she took and serviced to the last cent.
Now married, Mukeshimana is also a proud mother and owner of a home. “If you are blessed with a job, and employed wife, life gets better, since women balance life in homes,” she remarks.
But how is it easy fitting into this male-dominated space? “Once here, you have to live like them, which helps you learn more,” she says.
“Though many think of it as a job for men, the fact that Hadijah does it well, goes to show anybody is capable of pursuing their dream,” remarks Donati Nzanyihoro, a motorcyclist, who shares a parking station with Mukeshimana.
“There is one woman whom I admire. She drives heavy tracks even across the Rwandan border” she states.
“That is where I hope to be someday,” she affirms.