A Maasai Woman Doing an Unusual Job to earn a living
Women in the Maa Community are marginalized and in turn treated like children as well as instruments of bearing children.
This aptly explains why numerous teenage pregnancies and early marriages in the community are on the upward trend raising concerns in the government departments of education, Gender and children services.
In education for instance, 2, 487 girls are sitting for the Kenya Certificate Secondary Education (KCSE) in Narok County this year compared to 3, 454 boys.
The County Examination Officer Mr. Anthony Makori attributed the decline of girls sitting for KCSE to cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages and early pregnancies common in the Maasai Community.
The trend has however, forced women shy away from male dominated jobs such as running the matatu industry, engineering, medicine among others as dictated by community myths.
Nevertheless, Ms. Cecilia Naserian is among the few women “hustler” who has risked to venture outside these myths defying all odds to eke a living.
Despite having dropped out of school at a tender age of 16 due to early pregnancy, she did not shy away from doing what many view as a masculine job to earn a living.
The 32-year-old lady, from Olorropil area in Narok North Sub County operates a Maruti Matatu that plies between Narok Town and Total area along the Narok Bomet Highway.
Ms Naserian admits facing opposition and ridicule from immediate family members who thought she was bringing shame in the family. “At first, it was challenging as the society and my family members could not accept, but due to my persistence, they had no choice,” she explains.
Just as the saying goes, what a man can do, a woman does better, Naserian starts her work at 5am and closes at 9pm attracting most commuters. Some of her loyal customers include kindergarten schools that hire her to transport their children to and from school.
“She is a smart lady, I feel comfortable working with her as she is very patient and vigilant while driving,” says Mr. Justin Memusi who owes a kindergarten.
Ms. Naserian earns Shs. 1, 200 to Shs. 2, 000, pocketing close to sh 40,000 per month.
“I comfortably take care of my two teenage boys as a single mother,” she proudly says.
Ms. Naserian dreams registering a matatu sacco creating jobs to many Kenyans.
“People rise from grass to grace and I am an exception,” she exudes confidence adding that she began as a mechanic, rose to a conductor and now a driver.
She urges women not to be selective in choosing work to do provided they follow their passion. “Let every lady go out there and hustle as much as they can, get dirty, let people laugh but at the end of the day you are the only one who knows what you want in life,” she advises.
She lauds the traffic department in collaboration with National Transport and Safety Authority for ensuring sanity on the roads. “The more you respect and follow the traffic rules, the better relationship you have with the traffic officers,” Ms. Naserian says.
However, her job does not come without challenges. “Once in a while old men decline to pay arguing that they were enjoying a lift from a daughter. In such cases you have limited options but to let go,” she says.
Francis Ngoshosh, a driver on the same route admits that Ms. Naserian is a hard working and seldom entertains nonsense. “She is the most active member of our driver’s sacco where we contribute sh. 100 daily,” he reveals adding that the sacco projects to buy land for members.
Finally, Mr. Ngoshosh challenges women in the society who do not have a stable source of income to join the industry.
“I want to tell ladies out there not to stop subservience to men and join the industry to earn a living,” Mr. Ngoshosh says.
By Ann Salaton and Cealviah S Naipanoi