Away From The Crowd: The Only Woman In “Okada” Business In Nnewi
By ogemdi udegbunam
Igbo women are known for their resilience and hard work. When other women were “properties”, Igbo women-owned Properties.
Yes, They are that industrious.
Mrs. Chikaodinaka Amangeh is one of the Igbo women who has not allowed her gender to dictate how she fends for herself and how she supports her husband in fending for their young family.
She’s a 28 years old beautiful lady with one of the most disarming smile you will ever come accross.
Eight years ago, a man, an indigene of Benue State, a man who has spent almost all his adult life in Nnewi, travelled all the way to Abia state to marry her. According to Chikaodinaka, it has been eight years of an adventurous and happy marriage. No doubt, Chikaodinaka looks happy.
Their marriage has been blessed with three children
Prior to her marriage, Chikaodinaka’s dream was to trade on foodstuffs on a large scale. However, as years went by in the marriage, as a housewife, it dawned on her that the proceeds from her husband’s menial job will not be enough to give their children the life that they deserve and will definitely not provide the capital needed to start her foodstuff business.
“I always wanted to travel to the North and buy foodstuffs that I can sell here”
I asked her if she had any prior experience in that line of business, she was in the affirmative
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“My mother used to be a trader and I was helping her” she explained
The Igbo woman’s survival instinct in Chikaodinaka kicked in, she decided to go in search of a job; unfortunately, she didn’t find any.
How her Journey into “Okada” Profession began?
Mr. Amengeh, Chikaodinaka’s husband always carry their children to school with his bike before driving to the building site where he does menial Jobs.
One day, he was running late to the building site and there was not enough money in the house to enlist the services of a commercial bike rider (Okada) to carry the kids to school, so he asked Chikaodinaka if she could help out. She Obliged;
While driving them to school in her husband’s big motorcycle, the thought crept into her head.
In her own words,” I was driving the bike so well, like the men I passed on the road, even the Okada people. That was when I knew I could be an Okada woman and save money to start my foodstuff business”
Since then, the thought never left her head, however, the snag was convincing her husband to buy into her plans, so she kept it in her chest, bidding her time, waiting for the right moment to lure her husband into the lonely part she has decided to tow.
The right moment eventually came, she told her husband who predictably refused outrightly.
It took another three months before she could convince her husband to allow her to become a commercial bike rider (Okada )
The first step she took after her husband gave her permission was to visit Okada-white house to announce herself, the Okada executives welcomed the idea and gave her every needed support.
Chikaodinaka said,” The Chairman immidietly summoned his task force officials and asked them not ask me for any ticket whenever they see me on the road.I even ride to Ihiala, Osumenyi , and all the surrounding towns . i have a free pass provided my papers are up-to-date “.
“My male collegues have been most accomodating and supportive”
The only place she is stopped by task-force Official is when she drives out of Nnewi , but she whenever they stop her , she calls the Nnewi Okada Chairman who speaks to them .
“If the current chairman leaves , i will go and see the incoming chairman”, she said ( Laughing ).
“When i first started this Okada buisness , people didn’t want to enter my bike , they were scared i will throw them away, but now , they even call me on the phone asking me to come and pick them,” she said
According to Chikaodinaka , her husband still restricts her from going out to to look for passengers.
She said,” Sometimes , my husband sieze my motorcycle because his co-workers mock him , asking him why he allowed his wife to drive okada”.
Despite these hitches , she makes enough to help her husband in the family , and to also able to save for her dream buisness.
Throughout this interview at our office , Chikaodiri’s Phone kept on ringing , her responce to the calls , were “biko nwee ndidi , anam abia” ( Please be patient, i’m coming)
“They are my customers,” she said (grinning)