Just like many young people who work in Accra, it is a routine for me to wake up early to get to work on time as I have to travel by public transport (trotro) on a daily basis.
I am so used to the male voice of a mate shouting ‘Accra, Circle, main road’ whenever I am leaving my mother’s to work until I moved to my uncle’s for a while.
Early Monday morning, I got ready for work and moved to the bus stop to pick a car. Not long after, I heard a thin voice shouting ‘Accra, Cricle, Kaneshie’. I started smiling to myself because I figured it was a male with the tender voice of a female (I know it is wrong of me to laugh but I still do).
When the car got closer, I was surprised by who I saw. The voice did not belong to a man but a beautiful lady in her mid 20’s. My first time seeing a female mate. I was both surprised and shocked because I figured such a demanding job which required early mornings and late nights was reserved for men only.
When I joined the bus, I made sure I sat by her and kept staring at her that it was obvious. She noticed and said, ‘Bra ad3n?’ which translates to brother why? As a shy person, I felt a bit embarrassed by the question because I felt the other passengers will assume I did something ungentlemanly to deserve such a harsh tone and question. I just kept quiet and looked away but soon found myself staring at her again.
Finding the courage to ask her why she was working as a mate, she informed me her name was Agnes and had no option than to help her brother quickly pay off the loan on the bus.
It was then that I realised I was in a family bus with the Agnes, the sister as the mate and her brother James as the driver.
When I asked why she opted to help her brother out in that manner, she disclosed that her brother had worked with many other mates (males of course) but they all ended up taking advantage of him and pocketing some of the sales. “This always left my brother high and dry and he couldn’t make his monthly payments to the bank. Now, they are threatening to take the bus from him”.
Surprised at her gesture, Agnes went on to surprise me further. She revealed that she was not the only female working as a mate and ever since our encounter, I have met and seen a number of female mates.
Most of these ladies may have their own reasons but I believe it is great for women to be this courageous and take the bold step of being a trotro mate, a job many, even some men frown upon.
Now, let us not equate this to the saying; ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’. To me, it is all about women not letting anything stop them from doing what they want to regardless of ascribed societal roles.