How I Became A ‘Keke Marwa’ Driver – Mother Of 3 Shares Her Experience


The world is full of a number of strong women who would do everything in their power to help their partners or spouses to sustain their families. These kind of women have the can-do spirit and look straight ahead to what they want and they believe in what they can achieve above what anybody else thinks. This sort of women are special.

Ayo Abdul-Waasi, a mother-of-three, who rides a tricycle (keke) for a living in order to help her husband with the upkeep of the family and educating of their kids after their businesses failed. She tells the story of how she overcomes the odds in her job to help her family.

Before November, 2014, Ayo Abdul-Waasi didn’t have the faintest clue that she would turn a tricycle driver in the city of Lagos. She had thought her business, which was hitherto booming, would continue unabated to complement her husband’s but the reverse was the case. Her business went down while her husband’s business also suffered a setback due to harsh economic situation plaguing the country.

female tricycle driver

Ayo Abdul-Waasi in her tricycle

When things became hard for the family and their children’s schooling was being threatened, she decided to learn another trade that would earn her money to cater for family while her husband struggled to pay their rent and the children’s school fees.

Ayo Abdul-Waasi, a 35-year-old who lives at 7, Adeyinka Osho street in Dopemu area of Lagos state, was contemplating on a new trade she would learn when destiny caused her to meet a female tricycle driver, popularly called ‘Keke-Marwa’ at College bus stop around Pen Cinema, Lagos. She was motivated by the woman’s courage and thus, shelved her initial idea to learn a trade and she eventually learned how to drive Keke-Marwa for two days.

female tricycle driver

Ayo Abdul-Waasi Picking up passengers

In a chat with, the mother-of-three revealed that she took up the job mainly to assist her husband and to ensure that their children continued with their education, adding that she wants them to be educated up to the university level. Recalling how she found herself in driving business, Ayo said she felt that driving Keke-Marwa would afford her the opportunity to raise some money to keep her home and educate her children. She said, “For me, learning how to drive Keke-Marwa is an act of God because when my business collapsed, I was thinking about what to do to help my family because my husband alone cannot cater for me and our three kids.

The economic situation has badly affected his business as well. And because one of my three kids is in Secondary School, I knew that it is better for me to engage in doing something to assist my husband so that our children can continue their education. “Prior to the time I decided to learn how to drive Keke-Marwa, I saw a woman at College bus stop around Pen-Cinema and I was motivated by the way she was driving the tricycle. And I told myself that if this woman can drive like this, there is nothing preventing me to also learn it and become a good tricycle driver despite that I was aware that the business is meant for the men.

Although, I didn’t ask the woman any question about how she learned it or why she ventured into the business, I was only motivated by her courage. “Also, I felt that driving Keke-Marwa would afford me the opportunity to raise some money to keep my home because when a husband knows that his wife is complementing his efforts, definitely he will be happy with such wife and there will always be happiness and joy in that home.

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I learned how to drive Keke-Marwa for two days and I started driving the third day despite that I have never learned driving before then.” Challenges Ayo noted that since the Keke-Marwa business is dominated by men, she has been insulted by her co-drivers on many occasions. She also added that she that despite the abuse, she was always at peace with them. “I understand that men will always behave like men and I don’t overstep my boundary while dealing with them.

At times some of them are angry with me especially when there is no market-when there is scarcity of passenger but I am always at peace with them and whenever they told me that I have offended them, I apologized because I don’t want anything to disrupt my business. And with my good attitude towards them, they were forced to like me and in some occasions they would allow me to load before any of them could load at the park. “Also, since I started this business I don’t have any health issue but the only challenge I have is that my eyes were always beclouded with dust when I started and this affected my driving before I surmounted the challenge.

I can say that to the glory of Allah I don’t have any issue as regards my health since I ventured into this business. I resume work at 8am and close 4pm from Monday to Friday and I use Saturdays and Sundays to be with my family because that is the reason I work, may Allah crown our efforts. I am the first female Keke driver on this Opebi-Allen axis but another female driver recently joined us on this route. I give glory to Allah that I have achieved a lot since I started driving Keke and I have not regretted doing it for any reason”, she said.

One of the Ayo’s passengers simply identified as Dele, who was at Allen park , said that she was also surprised the first time he boarded her tricycle, adding that she has been a point of reference for him and others who has had one encounter or the other with her in the last few months. He said, “This woman has proven that what a man can do, a woman can do, even better. And apart from her driving skills, she is also sending a serious signal to everybody especially women that no situation should make them engage in any illicit jobs like prostitution and the likes. If a woman can be so skillful in driving tricycle to earn a living, there is no excuse for men to be lazy.”

She advised Nigerian women not to be overwhelmed by any difficult situation they might find themselves; rather, she enjoined them to engage in any legitimate and profitable job that could help them keep their homes. She noted, “I want to advise women generally that whatever situation they find themselves they shouldn’t engage in any illicit jobs, rather, they should try and learn a trade so that they would be able to cater for their family. They should also learn how to assist their husbands both morally and financially in raising their children because husband and wife should be helpers to each other. They should not allow their ego to deprive them of doing the right thing at the right time”.


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