10 January 2013

Rwanda: When You Aim to Achieve Something, Nothing Can Stop You - Taxi Conductor Clementine Uwamahirwe

If you happen to live in Nyabugogo, Remera or Gikondo and travel by taxi 'twegerane', you definitely have met taxi conductor Clementine Uwamahirwe. More often than not, you'll find her hoarse-voiced, as she moves around trying to get passengers into her taxi. In an interview with Women Today, the 21-year-Clemetine explains how she embraces a job that is still considered a 'man's job'.

All in a days work: ClementineÂ’s job includes looking for passengers. All photos by Cedric Ntwari.

Speaking in Kinyarwanda, she narrates how she ended up as a taxi tout.

"I never got the chance to meet my parents nor my siblings. While growing up I was told that they had died. I was only able to go as far as Primary five. If I had the means I would go back to school but it's now too late," Clementine says.

"Before I became a taxi conductor, I used to sell vegetables. I would carry a basket on my head and move around all day long. In June 2012, I decided to become a taxi conductor to try and see if I could make ends meet. Luckily I have not encountered many challenges so far," she expresses.

People often openly comment on her being a female taxi conductor, as I found out while travelling with her in the taxi. One woman was quite rude, "Oh My God it's the first time I have seen a female conductor in these small taxis", she exclaimed. Clementine chose to ignore the unfriendly remarks and concentrated on her work. "People make fun of me, but because I respect what I do, I just laugh it off and continue working," she reveals.

Her daily routine is waking up at 3:ooam to make sure that she reaches Nyabugogo as early as possible to get customers and goes back home at 10:oopm.

"On a bad day I take home Rwf3, 000 and on a very good day, I get Rwf10, 000. All I have to do is work hard. The earlier I get to Nyabugogo the better. I'm a resident of Muhima so it is easy for me to walk to Nyabugogo," she discloses.

She further said that her first day as a conductor was very tiring that she went back home after just one route.

"My voice was over-strained that I could barely talk. I was extremely tired. But because I badly needed the job, I calmed down and told myself that all I needed was extreme determination and that helped. You see when you aim to achieve something, nothing can stop you. I currently do countless routes and wake up early eager to work," says Clementine.

She has plenty of advice for other women. "Hard work pays. Every step you take counts. Therefore they (women) should not undermine any job. For instance I'm planning to go to a driving school so that I can become a driver as well, hopefully in two years", she says.

Because of her line of work, she says that she has no free time. But that's a sacrifice that she's willing to make to achieve all that she wants in life.

Regarding her plans of starting up a family in future, she said: "I have not thought about it as yet but God willing, I will get married one day and have children."

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